We were greeted at the entrance by characters in period costumes speaking the Queen's English - they stay in character the whole time, interact with the crowds, and even give impromptu music performances at times. Several times we saw them leading a family through the streets while proclaiming loudly, "MAKE WAY FOR THE FAMILY MARTINEZ, BOUND FOR THE PRIVIES" or running back and forth yelling messages from one person to another. Hilarious! At one point, one of them freaked out because our "iron chariot" (my wheelchair) was empty (I was walking since the path was level). "You've lost someone! They've vanished!" When we explained, they marveled at my miraculous healing and announced it to everyone within earshot.
The festivities began with the Queen's processional. We were taught to bow and curtsey, and yell "God Save The Queen!" anytime someone prompted us throughout the day. The Queen set herself against an famous Irish Rebel, Grace O'Malley, beginning a competition that ran throughout the day involving a human chess match, and eventually a joust. You could hear characters discussing the odds and who they favored on the streets throughout the day. There were rumors of assassination plots and other intrigues peppered throughout the entire Faire grounds. Each weekend is different - sometimes the theme is pirates or Shakespeare, or any other number of Renaissance-based stories.
Rich was pulled on stage at one point and announced to the be secret love child of the town hag and the Queen's sheriff. Keep in mind that a LOT of what happens on stage is improv, and the actors seemed to be trying really hard to crack each other up. The Queen totally lost her composure several times as the pranks were usually aimed at her.
The human chess match was awesome - The Queen and the Irish rebel called out the moves and the human chess pieces had to battle it out for the spot on the board. A nice mixture of sword play, staff fighting, fisticuffs, and taunting, with the crowd cheering on either Ireland or England.
The kids got to sword fight in leather armor. The winner had to pop all three balloons on their opponent. Brennan had trouble with the weight of his armor, but Rich and Kate battled it out for a good five minutes. A crowd gathered to cheer them on, and eventually Kate won. Rich wants to come back and just sword fight.
The Joust was without a doubt the most spectacular part of the production. The squires whipped the crowd into a frenzy, then we got to see some authentic jousting. The Irish champion cheated, and chaos broke out. There were large scale sword fights, explosions, and all together too much to watch all at once. Total spectacle!
Of course at the end, Irish and English made amends. The day ended with a huge cast music and comedy act at the main theater. The characters all lined up at the exit to bid us farewell on the way out. Exhausting, but the most fun we've had in awhile. We'll be going back in October if we can bear to stay away that long.
Earlier in the day, the kids were given Wish Rags by a beggar, who told them if they ever met the Queen, they should have her kiss the rag and whatever they wished for would come true. Which they did as the last thing before we left.