How could they be out of chicken legs? One of the biggest events in Pennsylvania that spans several weekends in the fall, and they run out of chicken legs?? Regardless if it was my first time at this event, I felt robbed of the experience because they ran out of chicken legs! I had to settle for mac-&-cheese and a ham and cheese baguette sandwich instead, which both were still delicious and satisfying enough. But, I suppose when you have hundreds to thousands of people attending this event over the course of the several weekends it takes place, you're going to run out of things.
And the PA Renaissance Faire is popular enough where I can believe not just their chicken legs tend to disappear as the event goes on.
I remember as a kid sitting in the car after my mom would pick my sister and I up from daycare, the radio would be on - and occasionally, the Renaissance Faire commercial would play a few times during the ride home; signaling my favorite time of the year (Autumn and Halloween) and that one annual event I had yet to attend. I still remember the commercial to this day, roughly the script, but the overall tone and music were always something magical and historic feeling. And yet, the answer I'd always receive after asking if we could go - a child's cue to throw a tantrum - was no. However, my mom would always, without failure, back herself up with the comment, "People are weird there. I don't want to spend money to see people my age - or older - dressed up in bad-smelling costumes dancing around."
Alas, instead of a tantrum, I would sit back in my seat rather embarrassed and ashamed for even asking in the first place.
And for years, I would forget about the event as a whole and never think about it as I'd go through high school and college. I would go through 2 graduations, 4 jobs, and a few years into my adult life before ever thinking about the Renaissance Faire or the serious thought of using my own adult money and car to attend. Besides, the pandemic kind of threw everything off as well, there's no way this event could get away with having so many people in one area at once. Of course, after being completely vaccinated, I ended up being a tad more open-minded as to what I could and could not feel comfortable attending. So when the opportunity came, I was rather quick and enthusiastic to jump on it.
At the age of 24, a good dozen+ years after the last time I was determined to try and go to the Faire, I was already starting to become comfortable with myself in terms of becoming an individual after living at home all throughout college. I have my own apartment, my own full-time job, car, and routine; it was only a matter of figuring out how I wanted to decorate my space to reflect who I was as an individual - which I'm honestly still trying to figure out. However, the one thing I was quick to include in my space and incorporate into my daily routine, was my "new" religious/spiritual practice. I call out "new" in this sense as it was the first time I could practice this freely and without push-back or judgment from family. As someone who's grown up in a very Catholic household, I've since moved from this and have started a new spiritual journey that involves modern - and traditional - witchcraft practices.
I was so excited to put my altar up in my apartment and carry around stones, crystals, and spells with me throughout my daily routine. However, the dream was to feel comfortable enough - not only in my own skin - but in my practice to just dress the part, and to include the "aesthetic" of witchcraft into my personal space. I always saw these witches on Pinterest or Twitter in these amazing dresses, robes, and clothes influenced by Wiccan and witchcraft, and it was my dream to also be able to dress like that and be able to express this internal part of myself. But, I do work an office job where the dress code is a strict business casual; and I don't think many people would either feel comfortable or think it's appropriate if I were to stretch that dress code.
You can imagine now, after getting the invitation extended by my life-long best friend, to join her at the Renaissance Faire, that years of longing to go to this Faire sort of slapped me in the face and I had never said yes so quickly to anything recently. Nor had I thought twice about putting the $30 towards the ticket or the money for an outfit to wear during this trip.
Now, if you've ever been to the Ren Faire, you know that there are different types of people: those who don't wear costumes, those who wear the bare minimum of a costume, those who dress up enough, those who go all out and put together these amazingly detailed costumes, and those who wear costumes - but they really don't "fit" the Ren Faire theme (i.e. a Sonic costume, but I saw a 2-year-old wearing this and it was super cute, so it didn't matter). As it also turns out, hearing from my best friend's boyfriend, over the years more people started wearing costumes to the point where it's almost weird to go without one. This was a shock to me as I always assumed that you just wore something to this because it was just the nature of the event. At the same time, how can I make an assumption about an event I've never gone to and have only received information about from a radio commercial? So, as I was a little scared and anxious about getting and wearing a costume, it made me feel better that participating in this was a norm for Faire goers. After all, I needed to make it look like it wasn't my first time. It didn't take much convincing after that for me to put together the outfit I've always wanted to wear. A medieval witch complete with the dress, shoes, corset, jewelry, and - a personal touch - a decorated witches hat. It was the event and costume, the dream, I never thought I needed that badly. What I felt when I put that final outfit on was so different, so unfamiliar, and yet it felt so right.
Turns out, when I actually arrived at the Faire, I was definitely in the category of "just dressed up enough where you'll fit in". But the costume and attitude that I had, the persona that squared my shoulders and tilted my chin; all of it felt so out of place to me if I had been anywhere else. But, at the Renaissance Faire, it was absolutely perfect. And for the first time, I felt like me. Unfiltered, not even a touch of my usual social anxiety, not even as I sat there in a crowd of people with a beer in hand during a medieval drag show yelling and laughing along with the people around me. Not even as I linked arms with my best friend (dressed as an adorable forest spirit) and sauntered throughout the Faire grounds giggling and pointing to every booth and shop, talking with each shop owner and becoming this person that was - in the end - me.
And all it took was a Faire and a costume to bring this person out within me who I always thought was separate from my conscious; but was a part of me, just unable to stand out from the crowd and from society who pressures you to hide all that makes you unique and real. For some, it's a dream job to allow their talents and skills to blossom and reveal their personality through their work. For others, it's hobbies that showcase their true selves. For me, it was a witch costume and a Faire. Getting the outfit together, playing with different jewelry pieces and ornaments to decorate my hat with, putting on makeup that just makes me feel surreal and celestial as a Lunar Witch; looking in the mirror and seeing this face that had been hidden under the mask I wear for the normal and every day. It was a dream, and I went so many years not knowing it was a dream I needed to experience and to understand who I was actually hiding.
Now, a good several weeks after the Faire, I wish that night had been longer. I wish I would have brought my sister, or had gone a second weekend. But, there's always a Faire every year; and I don't plan on that costume to be going anywhere except on different hangers in my closet.
This is honestly not an extreme event that changed my life for the better or worse. It wasn't an earth-shattering revelation that took me a few days or years to understand and absorb. But it was a simple event that was only a day long, where it had literally just taken me the week prior to put my costume together. My friend came an hour later than expected to pick me up the day of, we had to park really far from the entrance, and alas - the Faire had run out of chicken legs. But regardless, it was the simplicity of the event, the spontaneity of my decision to go, the fact that I had just enough extra from my paycheck the previous week to buy the $30 ticket to enter. It was something that really didn't hit me until the final jousting event, as I was sitting there with my cider and kettle corn realizing that I had smiled the entire day, nor had I taken any photos because I was so immersed in the true persona I was finally portraying and the fun I was having. I felt like I was a part of something bigger and yet was able to stand out as myself, as this person I've always wanted to be - this fantasy I had just assumed was a fantasy and nothing more.
It may be dumb as I look back on this and the Faire. She found herself by dressing up and doing archery and drinking and laughing with people dressed as knights and warlocks and dragon tamers? But, come 2022 when I get the text from my friend, you're sure as hell gonna see me again in my witch hat and corset with a beer in one hand and a chicken leg in the other.
About the Creator
Young, living - thriving? Writing every emotion, idea, or dream that intrigues me enough to put into a long string of words for others to absorb - in the hopes that someone relates, understands, and appreciates.