The Connecticut Renaissance Faire: Turkey legs, live shows and medieval fun galore

With temperatures and a few colorful autumn leaves already dropping, it’s prime fair season in Connecticut. While I like a good gathering, farmer’s markets are commonplace and harvest festivals are a dime a dozen. Why not switch it up from corn and cows to jousts and jesters?

The Connecticut Renaissance Faire is here, and it’s running every weekend from now until Oct. 14, including Columbus Day. It’s a medieval mashup with live shows and actors, interesting shops and some good, ye-olde fashioned fun. What’s not to love?

Located in Lebanon (about 20 minutes drive from UConn), it’s easily accessible to students, and the admission (about $15) is pretty reasonable. When you enter, you’re greeted by saucy wenches, hooded monks and royalty galore, along with a whole row of vendors begging you to buy their stuff. So, it’s pretty much like the Renaissance, but without the nonexistent plumbing.

The nice thing about the CT Ren Faire is that it feels like a genuine, immersive experience. Pretty much everyone, vendors included, is dressed like they’re in a Shakespearean play. Musicians play around every corner, alternately playing tunes from times past and scores from Skyrim and Game of Thrones.

There are multiple actors that wander around the fair ready to throw insults, quips and banter at you. At one point I saw the Town Sheriff give somebody a ticket for looking ‘suspicious.’ There was also a ‘plumbing’ duo dressed like a medieval Mario and Luigi.

There’s also plenty of content for adults. There are booths selling mead and hard cider, and on certain nights the fair opens after hours for some drinking and bawdy humor. The actors often slip in dirty jokes and a group of “wenches” sings at one of the bars.

I spent a large amount of time perusing the shops, which offer everything from incense to garden gnomes to swords (yes, they actually sell swords there). Some of the stuff is kind of expensive, especially if you’re looking at some of the hand-crafted cloaks, but there’s always something for everyone.

There are multiple shows and demonstrations happening throughout the day. There was a full-out bird of prey and falconry display with opportunities to see the birds up close, a jousting match and an armored combat display, along with a fire-eater.

Two knights get medieval at The Connecticut Renaissance Faire. (Eric Wang/ The Daily Campus)

Education is an element as well. There was a mini-Renaissance camp you could visit to see how people lived their lives back in the day and a functional forge demonstration. Some of the shows, like the armored combat and the falconry show, talk about the history and technique behind them. Others are purely for entertainment alone, such as the fire-eating show. Hey, it’s a balance!

If you get hungry, there are a ton of food booths selling turkey legs, sandwiches and other standard fair food. The turkey legs, while historically inaccurate, are tasty. They’re a little on the pricier side for a college budget ($10 for one leg) but they’re huge enough to almost justify it. I couldn’t even finish mine.

While this fair was on the smaller side, I can say that it definitely had a lot of heart. The actors were a whole lot of fun to interact with, the shows were interesting to watch and the whole shebang was an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday. On top of that, there are multiple themed weekends and rotating shows, so if you go on more than one weekend, there’s something new to see.

My one gripe? I spent way too much money. What can I say? I can’t resist a nice, hand-crafted leather vambrace. I may not be an archer, but now my Dungeons and Dragons sessions will be way cooler.

All in all, I had a blast. Catch a ride over and visit the faire. I give it 10 out of 10 Mary Tudors.


Marlese Lessing is the news editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marlese.lessing@uconn.edu. She tweets @marlese_lessing.