“Why do you keep going to the renaissance faire?” The New Jersey Renaissance Faire only graces our presence for three weeks out of the year but we’ve gone every day, both Saturday and Sunday. Since we live over an hour from the faire and drive home at the end of each day, it really gets our loved ones asking why we’re so dedicated to it. “Did you get free tickets?” “Are you covering it for work?” The answer is an emphatic “NO!” I’m doing it because I’m having some of the most fun I’ve had in years! Let me start at the beginning…
We’ve gone to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire once a year pretty much since we met. It’s huge and there are a lot of shops and shows. We were pretty happy with the ambiance and didn’t really know anything was missing from the experience. We were excited when we found out a few years ago that New Jersey had its own ren faire but after attending it our first couple of years, we honestly weren’t sure about returning. It was nice but seemed small so we felt like we didn’t have enough to do to justify the trek from home. Now, we have a season pass. How exactly did we get here?
Fast forward to 2017, we heard about the renaissance event at Smithville and decided to give it a go. The event gave us a taste of how the NJ Renaissance Faire was truly growing. The hilarious Shakespeare Approves did his improv shows and we learned about the biggest thing that keeps us coming back for more…the new adventure game by the Armchair Wizards.
Original photos by Jamie Kassa Photography
In previous years, our children have participated in the scavenger hunts. Our daughter was the first of our kids to take the initiative and complete her scavenger hunt all on her own this year. She approached cast members with no fear, asking if they had a clue for her. By the end of the day, she’d completed her scavenger hunt and been the youngest kid knighted on stage. It was a really proud moment for us as parents, too. She’s a smart and outgoing kid.
The new Armchair Wizards adventure game has been amazing particularly for my husband and I. We go up to cast members to receive quests, which we complete to further our own characters. You can duel players and although you start off with a six-sided die, you can eventually and gradually advance to a d20 as your character increases in levels. There is a raid toward the end of the day where you will band together with other players to defeat a cast member. Reach a certain level and then complete quests to join a guild. I’m currently questing to join the Bard Guild and I’m tasked with things such as writing a poem and “wooing” three cast members who will then sign off on my quest.
My daughter, the Festivus Pole (gotta see his shows to understand!), is besties with Will Shakespeare!
To tell you the truth, this forced interaction with cast members is absolutely necessary to the ren faire experience. It helps that the faire grounds are not huge so you can get to know your way around both the area and the characters. The majority of the cast members are genuinely enjoying what they do, challenging and joking around with you. My husband and I have already made friends with people who are all just so genuinely sweet and clever. These cast members know and greet my children; my kids could point out each character and tell you their names. The fairies are teaching them spells and I think they’ve put a “no speaking” spell on poor Da Vinci like forty times now but he just plays along and makes them laugh, eventually running away.
This is what I always imagined a nerd con experience would be like, a bunch of awesome people who just want to have fun together. No other faire has been like this for me and that’s why this has legitimately been the best experience of all. It’s been all I can talk about (sorry to my friends!) because I’m having such a good time. Plus, I’m always pondering ways to complete my quests. The only downside to the New Jersey Renaissance Faire is that it doesn’t last longer! I’m hoping that changes in the near future.
An outfit I purchased this year at the NJ Renaissance Faire!
Now that I’ve written a long post about my favorite parts of this event, I want to make sure I cover what else is included. There are a variety of shows, be it comedy, musical, action, or a bit of everything. The singers have beautiful voices, the knights are astounding with their swords, and much of the comedy will keep you laughing. You can buy jewelry, handmade items, weaponry, or renaissance garb to dress the part. Get a lesson in how to shoot a bow and arrow, knife-throwing, or glass blowing. Two playgrounds on the premises offer something extra for the kids to do. Don’t miss the chess match, joust, and other shows that will follow a themed storyline, which is art this year.
The kids attending a fairy tea party!
I want to take a moment to truly thank everyone at the New Jersey Renaissance Faire, both on stage and behind the scenes, for totally making my year! I mean it from the bottom of my heart, I love you guys!
Don’t miss the last weekend of the NJ Renaissance Faire, romance weekend, coming this Saturday, June 10th and 11th! You can also catch the Righteous Blackguards After Hours Show this Friday, June 9th at 7pm. Tickets for the faire or after hours show can be purchased at NJRenFaire.com.
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*The Quirky Mom Next Door received no compensation of any kind for this post. All thoughts and opinions are our own only.