By: CJ Boat
NOTE: as of this writing, the event is still on, weekends until April 6, 2014.
The Geeks landed for the second time this year over at the Bay Area Renaissance Festival in Tampa at the MOSI fairgrounds. This is an unique event in the Tampa Bay area, where nothing else really exists like it in the area. Were going to go over food, vendors, events, and performances, and you can make up your minds to visit or not (you should go, several times). We have been twice, and I am going to cover the last time we went, celebrating Saint Patricks Day weekend.
When you think of food at the Renn Fest, you think of a couple of things instantly, turkey legs and mead.
There was much of these things and more here. We had a few things to eat here, a broccoli and cheese soup in a bread bowl, turkey leg, pork kabob, some apple cider, and mead! MEAD! The bread bowl was good, but nothing really amazing, it filled the spot, it being a 80F sunny Tampa day, and us being hungry. We ate that, then turned toward the main portion of the Festival festivities, what is lovingly called Pipers Valley.
In Pipers Valley, we have all of the theme weekends celebrations: in this case St. Patricks Day merrymaking. This leaves everything in a lovely shade of green, most of the tents are green, and of course all of the beer is green as well. There is a lot of beer! Not being a beer drinker myself, we opted for more of the finer things in life: cider. It is an amazing thing being in summer-like conditions sharing an ice-cold cider (Woodchuck in this case) and hanging out with friends. (Image here)
After this, we left the madness that is Pipers Valley on an epic quest (we split the party during this part, and the outliers never returned - never split the party) to get actual protein in our systems. Some of us opted for the almighty Excalibur of turkey legs, and some of us opted for a pork kabob(I opted for the pork, which wound up in my cider, and made it AMAZING, much to my surprise, but it may have been the mead talking) both of which were delicious, and there are plenty of other items of food here (including a wide selection of vegetable and vegetarian choices - dont do the portobello mushroom burger, its not good) and lots of drink to be had.
Of course other than Faire food, you are thinking of things to buy, and there are dozens of vendors with varying merchandise, from handmade soaps, to homemade walking canes, wands, swords, leather garb, pirate swag, and so much more. In particular we found an awesome vendor who made remarkable blade replicas made of leather, and another really awesome leather workshop, where they would run lectures through the day, and if you paid the right amount, the artisan would do custom work for you through the day. The main thing to remember is make sure you have enough money to get that mead, because you can easily break ye ole bank on the merchant rows.
A specialization of this particular Renn Fest is the amount of events going on. There are hours and hours of events outside of the performers. There is high tea at 4 PM, human chess matches, jousting, the Kings Court, massive brawls, and more! We sat and watched a few jousting matches, the human chess tournament, and the grand melee. There may be other events that I am missing, but that is what we were able to cover, and they are all really fun events, and your time will be wisely spent going to these amazing things.
Our personal favorite thing to do is going to the performances. The Washing Well Wenches, Johnny Phoenix, a random time-travelling rabbit, mud shows, the wheel of doom, and lots more. We saw a couple of Johnny Phoenixs shows his adult show and a normal show (watch the adult show - its infinitely better), the Washing Well Wenches doing their raunchy comedy act, and a very cute rabbit being coerced into doing things with carrots and that kind of thing. After the Johnny Phoenix adult show, we sat and talked with him for over a half hour, and booked him for an upcoming podcast! This was by far the most interesting event, because we were discussing very personal things with a man well theres a photo-dump below, and hes the tall bald man.
As always, if you are in the Tampa Bay area, and have some fun things for us to cover, send us an email over at TampaBayGeeks@gmail.com.
Here are some pictures of the event. Click to progress through.