Fairy Dust and Mermaids, Huzzah! A Day at the MN Ren Fest

On September 19, our blog will be celebrating its one year anniversary! At our wedding ceremony, our officiant said, now that we were married, we need to exchange our wedding attire for work boots. At the time, I already knew what she meant, we were going through a long extended period of unemployment for Joel, our house would soon be in foreclosure in Fargo, we had just moved 4 months before, and we had survived planning and executing the wedding of our dreams in spite of so very many nay sayers to our union. At that time, in 2011, I thought “I know work. We’ve already been through it.”  Naive.

Joel is an amazing writer and so when we teamed up on this blog, I was so incredibly flattered that he would deem my writing good enough to sit next to his. I admit, I’m trying and honing skills, but I’ll never be Joel. One of the reasons why is because Joel has the most amazing wit. In one-liners he can capture a situation. Plus, to anyone who knows him in real life, he’s incredibly quiet, and then he’ll launch a one liner of observational humor at you and you can’t stop laughing.

So, when I said, you do the Ren Fest blog, it truly encapsulates his observational humor. He asked me to fill in the rest. So, in good creative writing fashion welcome to the Renaissance Festival experiment. HUZZAH!

Joel begins:

I got some Renaissance Festival tickets from my in-laws this year for my birthday because they are awesome like that.

We have a long, storied association with the Ren Fest. I first went when I was about 14, when I read fantasy books by the box load. I was overwhelmed and had no money to buy anything cool.

The second time, I was 22 and went with some friends. We watched glass blowing for about a half hour. I don’t remember much else.

Once we moved to the cities, I went with our good friends who like to dress up for the occasion with doublets, feathered hats and so on. It’s pretty snazzy. I have no such things and went in my own clothes.

This year, we went by ourselves. Saturday, Sept. 6, was extremely lovely weather, and we got there at 8:40, which was perfect timing for the walk around the ridiculously large mining pit between the parking and the front gates. The fest is literally having a moat dredged out from around it for fracking sand. By all accounts, that hole will continue to grow in the years ahead.

As we walked, we were passed by a guy in a full-on faun outfit, complete with hooves for feet. “Becky, you know he masturbates in that, right?” I asked. Becky hit me. I love her.


Walking from the car along the big giant pit has made the walk into the festival a much more close encounter with people. I have learned to accept and love the freak flag of others. But the faun. Dude was walking on heels that looked like hooves. I was just so taken aback, I stopped. I just had to stop and get some air. I realize that’s his thing, but he scared me to death.  Joel knew what to say to keep me moving.

renfest stuff
Somewhere, their mothers are very proud.


There are many things to be learned at Ren Fest. Here are a few:

  • People in medieval timey England were fond of eating foods like turkey legs, ale, cider, onion rings, cheese curds, pizza, soda, and a rustic treat called “funnel cakes.”
  • The inhabitants of this time in history were likely to wear chain mail and swords even when not actively participating in combat.
  • Other inhabitants liked to dress up as if they were pirates from hundreds of years in the future with a liking for eyeliner.
  • People who sell pickles were often shirtless.
  • Hundreds of years ago, everyone was extreeeeemly flamboyant.
  • You need to learn to be present in the past.


The trip to the Ren Fest came at the end of a particularly rough week in unemployment / overemployment ville.  I work for a company that just recently had a data breach. Now, I thought writing 10 power points on the same subject and being pretentious enough to call them “decks” was the 8th circle of hell, I was wrong. It’s a data breach. It’s being the only one in the department that can run the analytics for the “consumer” response from the breach. I taught them the program, their program mind you, but panic isn’t even the word I’d use to describe the environment at work. It was and still is so much more than panic.  So Joel declared, that we must BE PRESENT IN THE PAST.


  • People in the 1600s really loved pewter things. Especially if it involved dragons.
  • They also loved staffs, being experts in both walking and in the martial arts.
  • Ye olden times were known for relaxation, often in suspended canvas chairs that swung from a peg in the ceiling.
  • The silk-screen shirt began in England.
  • Outside every village was a sea of vehicles driven by internal combustion engine.
  • Port a potties were plentiful and well used.
  • Mead is actually pretty gross.
  • Getting kissed by a mermaid will make your wife weep with joy.



Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a weeper. I cry ALL the time for any reason. People have called me “over-emotional” and “extra sensitive” my whole life believing that feeling emotions so deeply that tears come as they may is some sort of defect, flaw, or deficiency.  Except for Joel.  He is one of the few who understands that feeling everything so deeply and compassionately can be a benefit, even though it may hurt sometimes because the same amount of caring towards others’ feelings isn’t returned. This is how I am wired.


The mermaids were magical, and they didn’t feel fake. So when I was in their presence all sarcasm and skepticism melted away. I sat on a rock next to one and she kissed me with sparkle dust. She saw me, and I turned into a 5 year old girl. They did an excellent job on Mermaid’s Cove because it was set away from the rest of the park, further adding to the enchantment they provide.

mermaid and becky


Some highlights of the day:

Becky accomplished both her goals: to see the mermaids and Twig, a well-known fairy that hangs at the Ren Fest every year. All encounters were magical. Twig, especially, hugged Becky and was just absolutely incredible.

Years ago, after reading an article about her, Becky and I asked our friends what was the deal with Twig. We didn’t get it. They said you just don’t understand. And we didn’t. We really didn’t.


Here’s how we met Twig: http://www.minnesotamonthly.com/media/Minnesota-Monthly/August-2011/Full-time-Fairy/

I’ll admit it, I had skepticism, and I was afraid of her in 2011. But, I was afraid of the Ren Fest as a whole. My one and only experience there was with an old boyfriend who wasn’t good to me in so many ways. Same old cliche story, nice girl, asshole boyfriend, she puts up with him because she doesn’t believe herself worthy of another. He wore wolf shirts. Grudges are my strong suit, so sometimes, when I allow myself, I hope his current partner (if he has one) treats him the way he treated me.

Needless to say, I only had unhappy memories of the Fest. But our best friends are REALLY into it. And our good friend, Pat, whom I have this neat connection with, said that Twig makes him cry every time he sees her. So when I went to the Fest last year, I looked for her but no luck. This year was ANOTHER story.


Twig was amazing with Becky and made her feel awesome without ever saying a word. We found her in her corner of one of the shops, where multicolored leaves and flowers cover the walls. She sits on some large mushroom seats and invites kids to come and hang out. She plays them a tune on her flute, gives them a magic rock and some fairy dust, and sends them on their way. One of my favorite things about Becky is that she is sometimes like a 5-year-old kid. She can just drop all the years between now and then and totally be present in a moment like this. It’s amazing. I tried to capture it all on camera.

twig and becky

Twig looked at me taking a picture, and started excitedly pointing at my Doctor Who t-shirt before pulling out her flute-like instrument and playing the Doctor Who theme song right then and there. So I ask you, How FREAKING amazing is that?


Twig is pure magic. I weep now even writing about her. I told her how I was looking for her for 2 years and to be near magic, REAL MAGIC, is so overwhelming. She called me beautiful without saying a word. I cried in front of her, telling her about how hard the summer has been, and the job search, and everything without having to say a word. She just understood. Hugged me again and again. Giving me her precious rocks and sprinkling fairy dust on me.  Walking away from that pure magic was unbearable. But staying would have been even more so. I was hysterical, and Twig magically healed so many wounds. If you haven’t met her, and you are all skeptical just like us. Seek her out.  You’ll get it then.  I asked Joel, when do you think she knew she was a fairy? Joel said, probably when she sprouted wings.


Becky got some memorabilia. I got a cool pin for my hat. We got lots of cider, noting that the price was the same as last year, but the cups are now half as big. Sad trombone.

Most years, nerd cleavage is on display all over the fair. You can’t hardly turn around without suddenly having to extricate your eyes from another pair of bosoms pushed up to the breaking point and coming at you. Becky and I like to keep a running tally of how often we see this during a day. Last year we hit 14. This year, just 5. And a guy’s butt crack. Like, ostentatious butt crack. There was no way he didn’t know he was doing it since he had no shirt on. Who flaunts their butt crack?!

Though the weather was about as good as it could be, we were hot and beat by 2 p.m. As the day wears on, the fair continues to gain people until you are walking around lines that stretch across the entire street and your walking path starts to look like one of Billy’s maps from Family Circus.

billy map

People carried swords with abandon. Women sported outfits that bared midriffs and spilled cleavage without prejudice all over the streets of yore.

Men wore kilts and cloaks without fear of reprisal. People let their nerd flags fly, and it was glorious.


Covered in fairy dust, Joel and I made our long trip home. Days later, Joel still has it on his face. Returning to the present is always hard, even more so when your future is in flux. But, as this blog turns 1, and is one of the longest commitments in my life, I’m ever grateful for it. And I’m ever grateful for fairy dust, magic, hard cider, the Red Sox (even this year), and my beautiful husband who understands and just “gets” me.

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2 thoughts on “Fairy Dust and Mermaids, Huzzah! A Day at the MN Ren Fest

  1. Huzzah!! I am so glad you had a great time. Who knew it would be an emotional experience as opposed to a day of sunburn, ale (Sam Adams), and turkey legs!! You have made me want to meet Twig just to be the recipient of some magical fairy dust to take me away from reality for a little while. OK, that faun person/animal is a bit daunting! I am afraid I would have not only stared at him but asked for a selfie WITH him (him?) !! You have also increased my vocabulary: “freak flag” and “nerd cleavage”! Wish I dared use them in small town USA!! I can hardly wait to see more photos from the day and to learn more about Twig. Thanks for sharing!

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