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Four hours at the Ren Fest

Note to self for next year…don’t wait until the last weekend of the Minnesota Renaissance Festival to go.

Well Saturday was a somewhat sunny day weatherwise. It wasn’t too cold or hot, and I guess everyone had the same idea we had — “oh, we haven’t been to the Ren Fest yet this year, maybe we should go?”

We got a late start, but we arrived in the Chaska area around 1:30. Google Maps was telling Ross that we’d have a half-hour delay. But judging from the traffic backed up on Highway 169 that led to the entrance of the Fest, we knew it was going to be longer than that.

A lot longer…

We’re all slowly inching along the highway. We amused ourselves by listening to “This American Life” and then “Radiolab” on MPR. I kept watching the actions of the kid in the truck in front of us. I swear he brushed the side of the door with a soft brush. A group of people wearing Renaissance garb made their way across the four lanes of the highway. I don’t know where they exactly parked, but I think they had a good idea. Granted they planned on trekking the roughly two miles to the entrance, but we figured they’d get there before us. Ross noted that they were making better distance than we were.

After an hour-and-a-half, we finally made it to the entrance that led to the parking area. Then came the task of scouting out a parking spot. It was pretty packed, but we managed to find a place to park. I had bought our tickets just before we left Marshall, so we didn’t have to stand in line for that. Fortunately, there wasn’t a line to get inside the gates (there was one when we went last year), so we stumbled on in.

Since all I had that morning food-wise was a chocolate chip cookie, I was a little ravenous. I was searching for the food vendor with a short line. The one was barely a line was for Italian pizza. I was surprised to get what amounted to be a personal-sized pizza. We headed toward Mac’s Pub to see a band we’ve been following for years, the Dregs. Their next show was at 3:30, so we had a few minutes before it started. I plunked myself on the grass and tore off hunks of the pizza; it looked like I hadn’t eaten for days or something.

It was a full house for the 3:30 show, so we had to stand. I didn’t mind as we sat plenty on the way there and on 169. The band was fun, goofy and silly as usual, and its fans appreciated them for it. For $5, they take requests, even if they don’t know the song. Someone requested the Dregs perform either “Piano Man” or “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel. The guitar player, Paul, was trying to look up chords for one of the songs, but Internet was not happening. Someone was able to get on the Internet on their phone and found the lyrics of “We Didn’t Start The Fire,” presenting it to Tim, one of the band’s founders. He made a production of lifting up his glasses in order to read the lyrics. I think they only got so far in the 20th century before quitting the number.

We rambled around the grounds looking for more entertainment as we were trying to make the most of the four hours we had as the fest closes at 7 p.m. That’s how we came upon a group called “The Understudies.” It was a trio of improv actors that portray themselves as the understudies to the stars of a play. They were performing at the Witchwood stage. They use props, a script and blocking in three acts to do their show. Saturday afternoon’s fare was about “slimy kittens,” and they took suggestions from the audience, as well as props. One of those props was a squeaky rubber chicken, which I think was the most amusing part of the show. I’m glad we stayed and watched, as they have potential.

For the rest of the afternoon, we wandered through the vendors, watched Zilch the Torysteller recite his version of “Romeo and Juliet,” ate a chocolate-covered strawberry, and then ventured into the Fairy Wing garden. Even though the fairy wing garden is mainly for kids, who oohed and ached at the miniature “fairy houses,” it was a pleasant walk through the woods. There were several activities in the woods’ clearing, and I posed next to a “dragon” for a photo.

We stayed several minutes past 7 p.m. and then came the time to leave the parking area. And we had a passel of other visitors with the same intention. It did take a while to get back on the road, but despite everything, it was a fun afternoon.

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