Say huzzah to the wizards, warriors and commoners who populate the Bay Area Renaissance Festival, a replica of a 16th century village with entertainment on multiple stages, street theater, live armored contact jousting, human chess matches, arts, crafts and other vendors, fire-eaters and more.
It runs on weekends Saturday through April 17 on the grounds of the Museum of Science & Industry at 4801 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. This weekend's theme is Buccaneer Beer Fest with a barbecue competition, arm wrestling competition and beer tasting.
Fans of the RenFest show up in costume to get in on the fun, and children dress like princesses and fairies. Heck, you can even dress up your pet, which you're allowed to bring this year. It'll cost you $10, though.
There's standard fair food, but get into the spirit and gnaw on a giant smoked turkey leg or try a Scotch egg (that's a hard-boiled egg encased in sausage and deep fried) and wash it down with a pint of grog as you take in a medieval comedy show or knights jousting on horseback.
The festival is part performance art, part craft fair and just a tiny part historically accurate tableau. The appeal is that it's everything a sterile shopping mall isn't: outdoors, with the sounds of lutes playing and swords clashing and the smells of wood smoke and perfumed oils and salespeople keen on charming dollars out of your pocket with a magic trick or a jig. Bring lots of singles for tipping.
Sharon Kennedy Wynne, Times staff writer