In Boozo Veritas #67 by Teege Braune
Lady of the Lakes Ren Faire with the Silvias
On Friday night as I was finishing my shift at Redlight Redlight I fortuitously ran into Jared and Lesley Silvia who had popped in for a drink. After a couple rounds the conversation took a lively turn.
“I can’t believe you guys have never been to the Lady of the Lakes Renaissance Faire?!” I nearly shouted.
“No,” the shook their heads. “Never.”
After a few more rounds we decided to cancel all of our Sunday appointments and go. I had planned on meeting them at their place after dropping Jenn off at work at Bookmark It, but Saturday morning my van broke down as it sometimes does. Jared and Lesley were not only kind enough to pick me up for the fair, they also gave Jenn and ride to the bookstore. The day was grey, overcast, and cool, a nice change from the muggy heat of early fall.
“It feels just like summer in England,” Lesley aptly commented.
The fair is in Tavares past some hills, deciduous trees, and terrain that bears very little resemblance to most of Florida. It had moved a few miles away from the clearing that had been its location the last several years and was now situated on a trail winding through a small pine forest that lay between a firing range and a landfill. Seeing cars parked in a grassy lot, we jumped the gun and turned, too soon, into the firing range. Jared drove us down a red clay rode, but we realized our error when we came to a sign that read: “Warning! Do not enter! Live ammunition being fired!”
We quickly turned around were soon able to locate our destination on the opposite side of the landfill. Lady of the Lakes is not the biggest or fanciest Renaissance Faire in Florida. It’s not quite Halloween, not quite MegaCon, but there are a lot of people in costumes, the food is fried to perfection, and they have alcohol, which imbues any occasion with that extra air of festivity. I don’t dress up for the fair, but neither do I judge those who do. It is in fact the vast array of knights, fairies, lords and ladies, a few dragons, and plenty of pirates that make the renaissance fair a worthwhile experience.
Ren fair novices will go straight to the jousting tournament. This is a rookie’s mistake. The splintering of lances is about the only excitement one can hope to expect from men who have never officially been knighted, the chances of someone falling off a horse or getting hurt slim in the era of insurance companies and workman’s comp, so we skipped that event and merely soaked up the delightful anachronisms and counted the number of Daenerys Targaryens we could spy as we made our way down the trail past booths of merchants and various drinking tents named things like The Drunk Monk, Pirate Cove Pub, and Lord Edward’s Tavern.
We got beers and Lesley went to the birds of prey exhibition while Jared and I enjoyed the final set of Celtic Mayhem whose upbeat renditions of Irish drinking songs are an annual tradition at Lady of the Lakes. A misprint in the fair schedule made us miss the bulk of the raunchy comic stylings of the Washing Well Wenches, another one of the fair’s highlights. I was happy that we caught the tail end of their raucous and over the top performance, but immediately afterward, we listened to a few minutes of Johnny Phoenix’s own hackneyed standup act, which promptly ruined any waves of residual humor that continued to delight us. We had to be extra funny to make up for the atrocious bit comedy that was only stupider than it was offensive.
After a few more beers, we discovered the archery and ax throwing tents where the most cantankerous old carney attempted to show us the proper way to shoot a bow and arrow.
“You’re still holding it wrong. I don’t have time for this!” she shouted throwing our arrows to the ground, yet nevertheless, refused to leave until we were able to fire the arrows within a few yards of the bulls eye.
We were mostly unsuccessful at landing an onslaught of small throwing axes onto a fence that was painted to look either like a dragon or a large menacing cat, but after inadvertently nailing it a few times right where its balls would be, Lesley proved that if you had to take one of the three of us into battle with you, she’d be your greatest warrior.
We purchased a final round of beers and Jared and I went head to head in a duel of a more cerebral nature in a game of man-sized checkers, but soon learned that we were not much better at that than ax throwing and called it a draw once our few remaining kings began to wander aimlessly, chasing each other to no avail around the checkerboard.
The fair was more subdued than in past years, but we were well satisfied as we strolled through the parking lot, the sun setting majestically over the crest of the landfill’s largest mound.
We met up with Jenn and all went to dinner at Garibaldi where they serve the largest glasses of sangria and margaritas I have ever seen. What better way, I thought, to finish a day at a paint and cardboard version of the renaissance that with a steaming plate of enchiladas? With the help of some alcohol and a more than healthy dose of imagination, I was able to travel to historically and culturally inaccurate versions of both medieval Europe and Mexico in one day. We are blessed.
Teege Braune (episode 72, episode 75, episode 77, episode 90, episode 102, episode 122) is a writer of literary fiction, horror, essays, and poetry. Recently he has discovered the joys of drinking responsibly. He may or may not be a werewolf.