Faire comparison: Colorado and Arizona Renaissance Festivals

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While the Arizona Renaissance Festival happens in the comparatively cool months of February and March, Colorado has their corresponding event in the dog days of summer — such as it is, here, anyway. (We rarely crack 100 degrees in Pueblo where I live, and the Colorado Renaissance Festival is about 90 minutes up north in Larkspur, so it’s even cooler …)

Colorado Renaissance Festival: The Ded Bob Sho

This year is the 40th anniversary of the Colorado Renaissance Festival, so some acts I thought had retired from the circuit actually came back for limited runs: Ded Bob, Hey Nunnie Nunnie and Puke and Snot made return engagements for portions of this year’s event. The weekend we went was Ded Bob’s last, and Hey Nunnie Nunnie was starting the following weekend — this weekend, actually. Those Silly Sisters of Sin will appear through July 17, and comedic duo Puke and Snot will appear July 23-24 and 30-31 and Aug. 6-7.

I think Ded Bob’s “handler” (don’t tell him I said that) has changed – he used to be called Smuj, and now it’s Sluj. But he’s as funny as ever, taking on Trump, legal weed in Colorado and inattentive audience members. I remember getting a bit “Bob”-ed out back in Arizona, but after a few years away and some updated timely jokes, the time was right to get Bob-mo-tized again. After five years away from the Colorado Renaissance Festival (the same amount of time I’ve lived here), he was explicitly lobbying to make a return visit with a full engagement in the future — so cross your finger-bones.

I’ve only ever attended two Renaissance Festivals, those in Arizona and Colorado. Both are equal parts medieval shindig, county fun fair and ye olde flea market. The artisans at Colorado’s show (many of whom visit Arizona’s Fairhaven, to be sure) seem really to have upped their game in quality and selection, and the food booths have more choices than ever before. I stick with the old standbys – turkey legs, or occasionally the Polish sausage.

Colorado Renaissance Festival
A knight of Gondor patrols after a hailstorm.

My experience this year was marred a bit by an all-too-modern drunkard in anachronistic, fluorescent Under Armour attire. He was holding up our food line by paying a costumed performer to woo his lady companion, who was in period costume herself but was clearly embarrassed and uncomfortable with her date’s inappropriate remarks, as were all of the rest of us unfortunate enough to be in the surrounding queue.

I remember getting rained on during many of our Arizona festival outings. This year, Colorado’s fair got drenched with rain and hail for about a half-hour straight, creating instant rivers of mud, so we took refuge in the Dreamstress’ pillow shop, and ended up buying a couple of her wares as she had so selflessly sheltered us. When the weather cleared, it was a nice, cool Colorado summer day — with smaller crowds that were much easier to navigate.

One major difference between the two events is that Colorado’s takes place literally on the side of a mountain, so it’s a lot more vertical of a hike than Arizona’s flat desert Fairhaven. That makes it much more of a workout — Colorado has one of the United States’ healthiest and most active populations, so in theory that’s not a problem …

I don’t remember Arizona’s festival hosting the Majestic Endangered Cat Show, but Colorado has for several years at least. It’s great to be able to see endangered species such as white tigers relatively up close, but I also agree with those who say it’s sad the animals are in captivity and get trotted out in this way. I think we can all agree it would be better if they could stay where they belong, but that’s not the fault of the festival or the sanctuary who puts on the show, and they do what they can to support protection efforts for the big and great cats like those in the show. It’s also educational. A domestic feline lover and big cat admirer all my life, I learned things I’ve never known — such as, cats that can purr can’t physically roar, and vice versa.

So, Arizona audience, if you’re in the area over the next month or so, or just happen to be up for something different, the Colorado Renaissance Festival runs through the first weekend of August. And it’s a lot cooler up here. Huzzah!

About Jayson Peters

Nerdvana's founder and owner. A former East Valley Tribune copy editor, page designer and website editor, he is now Digital Editor for The Pueblo Chieftain in Southern Colorado, a web design instructor at Pueblo Community College and president of the Southern Colorado Press Club. He has contributed to the popular GeekDad blog and taught online media at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, his alma mater. Lifelong Star Wars fan and Trekker who also worships all things Tolkien and Doctor Who.