09 April 2007

Jubilant Scots, Knife-Throwing Acrobats, and Variations of Honey Mead

Don't let the headline fool you...it wasn't that an eventful weekend. (And on the occasions when it is, I know better than to write any of the activities down either via the pen or the keyboard. Some memories are best left for me to remember, and then forget, when my memory starts to fail.) Instead, I'm recovering from a chest cold I've predictably picked up as a result of my idiotic stupidity this weekend (well, mostly Thursday night in Durham). One day I will learn Cold Weather and I really don't get along and, if faced to meet one another, I should always be more prepared for the elements. God knows Cold Weather always is. I will not complain here, because I only have myself to blame...as lame as an excuse as that is.

However, the cold had not started bubbling up by Friday, so unawares the WR and I ventured out to the NC State Fairgrounds and to the North Carolina Renaissance Faire. Ideally, it was to see our Scottish fave band, Albannach, at their 4pm show, but that quickly was bookended by other activities as the perpetually lively Jamesie et al only played a 30 minute set. It was a good set, mind you, and they seem to have made some loyal fans who came back after seeing them the first time last year, but it was only 30 minutes. Thank heavens the Faire had much more to offer...namely in the form of clothing and crafts vendors.

Some of the wonderful leather, satin, and silk handmade items on sale...and there was a lot...for Renaissance ladies, wenches, or just the wannabes. And, yes, bosom lovers, the corset on the left is made of leather, and the cups do have the words "Treasure Chest" hand tooled on them.

As you might imagine, some of the folks attending take this event very seriously. Quite a few of the attendees, and not just the 'characters' of the Faire proper, came in proper attire. I was just trying to be warm that day, any 'traditional' wardrobe suggestions be damned.

Food vendors were sparse, and the 'beer garden' (which is using the traditional meaning of that word very loosely) was even leaner. (You know the 'beer garden' was lean when the WR and myself...both beer snobs who generally would wholeheartedly embrace the stronger beers presumably found at a Renaissance Faire...could not find anything pleasing, out of the whopping 2 or 3 choices of honey mead variations to choose from, and decided to take our money and sinful tastes elsewhere in town.) I can only hope that after we departed at about 6pm that the variety of both improved a lot, as the crowd turnout was certainly there to make a few bucks for some enterprising food and drink staff.

For what it it worth, I did try and take some pictures. Unfortunately, I could not get any decent pics of Albannach this time (I had a Grizzly Adams-like character standing in front of me), nor of the second-best act we saw there, an acrobatic and knife-throwing threesome called Barely Balanced. While I had a great seat for the Barely Balanced show, unfortunately they were performing just as the sun was in every one's eyes. They could see us, while we were all squinting and with sunglasses trying desperately to see them. They did, though, put on a very good show and I was sorry I didn't have more money to contribute to them when they passed the hat around at the conclusion. While sadly I only got a very few pics of them early on in their set, I do, however, have some really spectacular later ones of the sun blinding me, but I'll spare you those.

The Barely Balanced kids with an (thankfully) unflinching volunteer from our audience. And, yes, those are knives the fellas are tossing back and forth. Knives above, knives below, and even around and in between when the ladies walked even further in and then eventually through the knife pattern. And while I missed it, Barely Balanced also does a fire show during nighttime performances as well.

Go see these kids (well, I think they're mid to late 20s in age, but I tend to call people younger than me 'kids') if you see they're coming to your local Renaissance Faire or festival. Their website is Barely Balanced.com, where, thankfully, you can see what these flexible folks can really do.

Doing whatever it takes to get the crowd in, Cameron from the Barely Balanced acrobatic troupe rounds up his audience in the most noticeable way he can.

All in all, it was a good, sunny, and relatively warm afternoon. The entertainment was lively, the vendors friendly, and the participants enthusiastic...and these pluses made the other shortcomings with the food and drink easily forgiven. I think the WR was quite pleased to lose his Faire virginity at this one and I'm glad we went. Now if they can just do something about the damn honey mead for next year...

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