Bay Area Renaissance Festival

Text Bay Area Renaissance Festival reads over a shield with a starburst design

Multicolored flags and banners hang under a canopy of trees

Fully vaxxed and ready to explore, my family had the distinct pleasure of visiting the Bay Area Renaissance Festival in the Tampa Bay, Florida area on May 22nd. Two weeks post vaccinations placed us at the final day of the event and I am so happy we were able to attend before the season ended. To be honest, after fourteen months of being isolated, it was a little overwhelming to get back into the world for such an interactive occasion. All things considered, I am happy we could experience it together as a family. In Florida the mask mandate has been lifted, however, the event’s website did have COVID restrictions listed. I was encouraged by the consistency of social distancing we experience in this open air event and most patrons still wore masks.

Female airel artist hands upside down from a pink and purple silk hung high in the tree tops

After many long months of social distancing and lockdowns forcing so many artisans to lose out on much needed revenue, I was excited at the prospect of meeting some creators! Once at the festival I learned that the event was much smaller this year than is typical, but they hope to return in full force in 2022! That said, there were still plenty of artisans, activities and entertainment to occupy ourselves with. Upon entering, the air was thick with the sights and sounds of various performers setting the tone for the fair. There was an actor looking for participants in a pickle eating contest, a tinsmith, and an area for professional photos at the front of the event space. I particularly enjoyed talking with the tinsmith. He taught me about his profession within the town holding the fair, and told clever jokes while crafting me a purple rose. He even added some rose perfume for a sweet scent!

A hand holds a purple rose made from tin foil
Throughout the event there was a wide assortment of artisans and food vendors. I had myself set on purchasing a new hat or head adornment. There were many pirate hats, top hats and flower crowns to choose from. I came upon Precious Plunder, a shop selling twisted wire circlets, and with the help of the shop owner I found a beautiful purple and silver piece that I gleefully purchased (and plan to wear every day)!

Two women in purple shifts sit behind a skull with a jeweled headpiece. The women are also wearing circlets.

While there were many booths offering a variety of goods that would be excellent for cosplay, the following are the booths of note for us!

The Dragon Hatchery – Handcrafted leather dragon barrettes and pins.

Leatherworker in front of display of leather dragon hair clips and pins

Pirate Arms – Leather and metal work

Monarch Armory – Weapons and Armor fit for a king

hand made wood and metal maces

Below Deck – Wooden shields and other crafts

price list for custom shields

Whittlewood Woodworks – Walking sticks, wands & weaponry

display of wooden walking sticks and magic wands

While it was a little too hot outside for us to stop and eat, there was a surprising variety of food, including decent vegetarian options! We did manage to get some fresh lemonade to help beat the heat, as well as plenty of water!

The performers we interacted with included Unicorn and Mermaid photo ops, Lorelei the singer, Acrobellum the acrobats, Equus Nobilis- the jousting act, the Plant Guy, and The Splatter Time Players Mud Show. We even happened upon our host, King Henry! All of the performers were very friendly and took the time to interact with the crowd.

man dressed as a shrub, standing in a pot

The biggest highlight for the family may have been the axe throwing. We spent a lot of time at the booth all trying our best. J beat us all with 3 bullseyes!

Three generations of nerds all had an excellent day at the festival. We are excited to check it out next year in its full splendor!

The King of the faire with his entourage

Note: If you know any of these untagged creators, please reach out to me via email so we can properly link and credit them.
*Photo credit: Variant Berry

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