A Faire shake

A one-hour drive from Boston can take you back five centuries. Since 1982, King Richard’s Faire in Carver, Mass., has been heralded as the largest Renaissance Faire in all of New England.

Enter the sprawling 80-acre kingdom and you’ll find yourself walking among warriors and wenches, knights and paupers, magicians and musicians in a mock, yet majestic, celebration of a prolific period long past. While guests of all ages are welcome, this Faire is just as much for the aging young-at-hearts with a proclivity for the world of fantasy as it is for families with kids in tow.

Kids can go on the man-powered rides, while their elders participate in weapon-slinging contests, wielding arrows, throwing stars, battle axes and knives. And just about everyone can be seen gnawing on a turkey leg at some point.

Beware, though — while the Faire reflects a time of cultural rebirth, it may not yet have been a time of restraint. While actors play it safe around the kids, they certainly know how to spice things up around the rest of us. At any time, the busty wenches and town drunks walking the grounds are prepared to fill your face and crack your ego with crass and uninhibited humor. Add older audiences drinking yards of beer or cups of mead and then facing the option to buy swords or battle axes from local vendors, and you get the idea that this might be more of a party for the older crowd than an education for the younger one.

King Richard’s Faire prides itself on its actors and artisans — and for most of the hired participants, this isn’t a hobby, but a way of life that brings them from town to town portraying their characters and creating their craft for a different venue every couple of months. Blacksmiths actually make their goods in-house, and there are several other vendors with rare products perfect for their particular public.

At the end of each day, everyone gathers for the main event, the joust. The festival highlight, the ceremonious battle ends in a sword-fighting stabbing match to the (fake) death. With the use of real horses, real jousting sticks, great acting and fake blood, this is the perfect end to the day for audiences of all ages.

Lions and ligers and Faire, oh my!

A large part of the Faire is about the sideshow. “Tale of the Tiger” features live Bengal and white Siberian tigers and culminates with the long fabled, but very real, “liger.” A crossbreed of a lion father and tigress mother, special guest liger Hercules was recently recognized by the Guinness Book as the largest jungle cat in the world.


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