Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival offers unique entertainment

Here Ye, Here Ye, the Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival (PRF) opened for the season on August 24. Only at the PRF can you find beautiful handcrafts, swords, archery, German rappers, fire jugglers and large turkey legs.

Weekends all through September, the PRF offers a entertainment every weekend, rain or shine. Though tucked away in a little rural area, the fair is full of period looking buildings, including a castle and gates. The area is pretty large spanning from an open field down into a forest.

The cast, which includes Seton Hill University students and alumni, do parades, compete in a joust and talk constantly to attendees. They start shouting before you even enter. Then, they squire ladies around or encourage men to buy their ladies a flower. There is a homeless, drunk peasant running around and a couple of rowdy pirates. Men should beware the washing wenches, lest they try to take their clothes off for a washing.

Vendors range from beautiful jewelry, hand blown glass and pottery to costumes, fake mythical pets, elf ears and art. Bartering is often welcome, and vendors are very friendly and interesting to chat with. There are pieces for purchase that are exclusive to the medieval period, but others fit very well into modern, everyday life.

The food is also a big draw of PRF. There are perennial favorites like pizza, chicken strips, and fish and chips. More exotic food choices include huge turkey legs, macaroni and cheese on a stick and alligator jerky. Free royal nut samples are always a must as well.

Several shows are worth watching as well. The Washing Wenches are a good choice, especially for couples. Attendees usually regret sitting in the  front, however. The carillon bell player, Cast in Bronze, gives a dynamic and soniferous performance. There are many different kinds of folk musicians as well.

There are several jousts throughout the day as well, though the last one is “to-the-death” and therefore the most dramatic.  They do the whole deal up right: the royals parade in, the knights joust and swordfight and blood is spilt.

When planning a PRF trip, make sure to check out the theme weekends schedule on the website http://pittsburghrenfest.com/. Options include children’s weekend, wine revelry, irish festivalis, celtic fling and oktoberfest. Many attendees dress in full costume for the festival, while others just wear flowy maxi skirts or dresses with fun jewelry to get in the vibe a little. Street clothes are totally acceptable as well, but a little less fun.

For the average student, the PRF might seem like too much of an expense at nearly $17. Buy tickets online, however, and the price is lowered a little bit to $14.95. You must expect to spend a good bit of money inside the festival as well, you won’t be able to help yourself. If you can put away some money for a special weekend, though, the PRF is well worth the splurge.

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