Today, I took my kids to their very first Oklahoma Renaissance Festival at The Castle in Muskogee, Oklahoma. They’d never been to one before because, frankly, I didn’t like what I’d heard about Renaissance fairs and I really didn’t like most of the pictures I’d seen. The alcohol, the smoking, the scantily clad women, the scantily clad men, for that matter, and the bawdy, sexualized performances just weren’t our sort of family entertainment.
But today was a special event. For one day only, The Castle opened its doors to students from across the region for a toned down, less titillating, more wholesome experience. If ever there was such a thing as a family friendly Renaissance festival, this was it. Here are a few of the differences I noticed between today’s event and what might take place tomorrow.
For the student event, because The Castle was quite bursting at the seams with children, there was no alcohol permitted on the premises. Root beer was in great supply, and was even served in cool jugs and brown bottles, but there were no drunks to deal with in the crowds.
Of course, the clothing was still in keeping with Renaissance styles, but the staff and performers were dressed in modest ways, with not much more skin showing than a scoop neck t-shirt might allow.
Since most of the visitors today were from school groups, and tobacco use is typically not permitted on school outings, there was very little smoking at the event. As someone with asthma, I have a hard time being around tobacco smoke even in outdoor venues, and I really don’t want smoke around my kids, so I was happy to see the designated smoking areas going largely unused.
Reduced sexual content
Renaissance fairs and festivals are known for the bawdy entertainment they provide, and I know that’s one of the things that draws in many visitors. Like Halloween, a Renaissance fair gives participants the chance to embrace a personality much different from their own, if only for a short time. In an environment where virtually anything goes, almost everything does. But when the primary audience is children, things are a lot more restrained.
Crowded, but worth the trip
T=Attendance at the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival student event was so high, I was afraid I might lose my six-year-old in the crowd if someone didn’t hold onto her. I never did find the half a dozen or so friends from our homeschool group who I’d hoped to meet up with at the event, but I met other homeschooling families from all over the state.
If there is a Renaissance fair near you, and you are hesitant to take your kids for the many reasons I was reluctant to take mine, check to see if they have a student day. My children had a blast, and we plan to go back next year.
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