Ahhh, the Arizona Renaissance Festival. This was my 10th year going. It's been a tradition for Chris and I, ever since it was our first* date. We traditionally go during mid-March to mark our anniversary, but this year we finally decided that from now on we'll go in February. What prompted this decision? It was hot on Sunday. Rumor has it that it was 90! And as you can see, I was not dressed for 90.
Yep, the above is me in my Gothic/Tribal dance clothes, with my little shoulder dragon! This is the same thing that I wore for Halloween (well, I didn't wear the dragon then). You can see the yarn belt that I made, although my yarn hair isn't showing too well. It isn't full enough, I think I need to go buy some more green chenille and add to it. The skirt and the lace top are both thrift store finds, and the choli is something that I asked Mom to make to go with last year's costume. All in all, I feel that it turned out fairly well. A random little girl who was walking by looked up at me and said "You look really pretty" which basically made my day. Plus at one point, a woman grabbed my belt and showed another lady that this is what she was planning on making for herself.
Chris doesn't like me sharing pictures of him, but you can see his shadow in this picture, and see that he is wearing a cool hat. He bought it in NY from a drum vendor that also sells at our Faire. It's a woven straw hat from Africa, with leather accents. They're pretty sturdy and pretty cool looking, and a lot of vendors, employees, and musicians at the Faire also wear them. It was like Chris was part of some secret club... he and another hat-wearer would see each other, and either say "Cool hat!" or give each other the chin**. And two separate people stopped him and asked him where he bought it -- including one guy when we were standing in front of the drum booth!
So, the Faire itself. Other than the hot weather, it was a good time. Not too crowded, but busy enough that you didn't feel bad for the vendors and performers. We caught two shows of the band Tartanic, because we like them that much. We saw the falconry show for the first time, and that was pretty cool. The white-backed vulture decided to go rambling, so I got some pretty close looks at her. What an impressive bird! She was so close that, had I been a stupid person, I could have leaned forward and touched her. And we also saw two different music and dance troupes, which are the highlight of the day for me!
Both troupes had sword dances, which were incredible. I was very impressed at both dancers' ability to balance the blade on their head while doing floorwork, including some serious back-bends. And the first troupe also had a dancer who did fire eating while dancing, which was very cool. Actually, I noticed a lot more fire at the Faire this year, as there was also a whip trick guy whose finale was performing with two flaming Kevlar whips, and more jugglers with fire tricks. I have to wonder if there was some sort of ban lifted or something.
Shopping-wise, I didn't see too much that was wow-inspiring. It was mostly the same things as previous years, and the new vendors weren't too impressive. I did notice that they seem to be down to one maille vendor, and there may have been less leather vendors than usual, too. Some of the vendors that seemed absent really struck me as major productions in the past, but I have to wonder if this bad economy is really hurting them, and perhaps like many bead sellers, they've decided to stay closer to home for their shows.
As such, instead of making lots of little purchases, we limited ourselves to one large purchase each: Chris got the pants to match his leather doublet*** and I got some beautiful silk dance clothes. Plus we picked up a new Tartanic CD, and got our traditional end-of-the-day chocolate.
All in all it was a great day, and as is usually the case after the Faire, I'm really feeling inspired to improve my dancing -- starting tonight!
*Well, we say it was our first date, because that was the plan, but the weather ended up being bad and no one wanted to go with us, so instead we saw The Man in the Iron Mask and then went to the Faire the next day. However, since the movie wasn't that great, and we went with a friend who slept through it, I'm not sure it even really counts as a date, so the Faire may technically still be our first.
**I don't know what the rest of the world calls this, but in our circle of friends "giving someone the chin" is the reverse nod where you tip your chin towards someone in acknowledgment. In our gaming, it's a frequent form of greeting among stoic samurai warriors.
***This is the main reason for going in February. Chris wants to wear his leather doublet, without getting heat stroke.