Hear ye, hear ye! If you're missing your annual revel in the grove, let's recreate it with the help of a Virtual Maryland Renn Fest!

Several weeks ago, the Maryland Renaissance Festival announced that due to COVID-19, the annual event would not be happening this year. While sad, it was not unexpected. As anyone who has been to the Renn Fest knows, most weekends the word “crowded” doesn't even begin to cover it, and you can spend a large part of your day shoulder-to-shoulder with other attendees. Since slowing person-to-person spread is important, the decision to cancel was the right one, but it leaves the many artisans and performers in a bind. That's where Revel Grove Online comes in.

Audience at MD Renn Fest

Image courtesy of Shakespeare's Skum Facebook

For those of you who have never been to the Renn Fest, it is an outdoor festival set during the Renaissance time period. It runs for nine weekends starting at the end of August. The permanent structures on the festival grounds provide space for artisans to sell goods, performers to showcase skills, and vendors to set up activities. There are enough things to do that you can spend the whole day there and not get everything done, and many fans make a point to go multiple days during the season. There is a running storyline of royal characters, and many attendees dress up and get into character themselves.

MD Renn Fest Royals

Image courtesy of MD Renn Fest Facebook

It's important to remember that most of the performers and artisans make the majority of their income from festivals during the year, most of which have been canceled this year. To help them (and to give attendees a taste of their favorite time of year), the organizers have set up a website with a large interactive map of the grove and a listing of the many vendors and performers. It makes a great jumping-off point for recreating a “faire day” at home.

Revel Grove Online

Image courtesy of MD Renn Fest Facebook

The Shopping

There are so many amazing shops at the Renn Fest, from hand-blown glass to locally made honey. Take some time to explore the map and click the links for the various artisans. Many are selling through online stores, but even those who aren't are often open to phone or email orders and commissions. It will help them a lot if you're able to purchase goods this season, even though the faire isn't running. There are also souvenirs of the faire itself available online.

Blown Glass

Image courtesy of MD Renn Fest Facebook

The Food and Drink

For many fans, Renn Fest is a foodie event. The entertainment and shopping is nice, but what they really look forward to is smoked turkey legs, steak-on-a-stake, mac and cheese (and many other foods) on a stick, and warm chocolate chip cookies with milk. With a little planning, you can make and have some of your favorites for your faire day at home.

Scotch Egg

Image courtesy of Bon Appetite

Scotch Egg recipe by Bon Appetite

Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe by Nestle Toll House

Fried Mac 'n' Cheese by Damn Delicious (just pop 'em on a stick)

Candied Nuts by Sally's Baking Addiction

candied nuts

Image courtesy of Sally's Baking Addiction

Finally, Linganore is the official winery of the faire, and last year their Medieval Mead was available in many local liquor stores (mix it with cider to make the faire-favorite Bee Sting).

The Entertainment

Many of your favorite entertainers are listed on Revel Grove Online with links to webpages and social media accounts where you can interact and possibly see some videos or even buy merch, CDs, and DVDs. If you're able, please contribute to these amazing performers, since many have lost a whole year of revenue with all of the events that have been canceled. If activities are more your speed, getting an elephant ride in your backyard is likely out, but you might be able to do some archery or axe-throwing if you have the materials (please be safe), or there is a smaller open venue nearby. If not, here is a jousting video (it is our state sport).

Joust

Image courtesy of MD Renn Fest Facebook

The Je Ne Se Quoi

Let's be real: the bottom line is that you can't recreate the true feel of faire in your backyard. It's easy to flippantly suggest sitting in your car for an hour before starting your day (to simulate the inevitable traffic back up to the parking lot) or making yourself wait “in line” for 20 minutes before you can pee or have a drink, all while dressed in your favorite garb. But that's not the true je ne se quoi of the Renn Fest. The crowds and lines can be annoying, and the privies (port-a-potties) are pretty gross, but the sense of joy and fun and community of the shared space is impossible to replicate elsewhere.

But it will be there for us next year.

MD Renn Fest Crowd

Image courtesy of MD Renn Fest Facebook

Does this help sooth the ache of missing faire? Head over to the comments and share your favorite Renn Fest memories with us!