My five year old has been telling all our neighbors that we went back in time on Sunday. People laugh and
think she’s pretending, but they don’t understand that she believes this to be true. This weekend we went to King Richard’s Faire in Carver. Once you leave the parking lot and enter “Carvershire”, it feels as though you’ve stepped through time directly into an English Renaissance village. There are finely crafted cottages that serve as “shoppes” throughout the town, with charming details such as a roof in the shape of a dragon. It really was impressive! We visited on a cold and gray day, which meant there were not a ton of visitors and there were more actors interacting with just us. This really helped immerse us into the time period represented and made the girls feel like they were experiencing history.
Of course we HAD to dress up! My big girl decided that she would not be a princess, but a knight instead!
A flurry of messages was sent off and another awesome Cape Cod mama helped me out by letting me borrow a knight costume for her. The little one, as she does most days, dressed as a princess. I dressed up too, my husband laughing at me as I added jewels and crowns all the while saying “It’s for the children!” Sure, sure!
In my preparation research for this trip, I kept reading how very expensive a day at the Faire could be,
since we are on a budget I wanted to try to minimize as many of the costs as possible. We packed a bag full of lunch and snacks for the girls and ourselves to decrease food costs. We also set limits with the girls on the number of rides they could go on and the number of purchases that could be made.
The ride to Carver was an easy 1 hour trip from the Lower Cape and we arrived at 11:00am. We spent the
WHOLE day there, finally leaving at 5:30! Even though it was chilly, the girls never wanted to leave.
Upon arrival we went straight to the costume rental shop, Seams Like A Dream, which is right by the entrance and all the costumes are made by an onsite seamstress. We rented a villager’s outfit for Matt (who clearly married above his station in his marriage to me, a princess). This can be a bit pricy ($30 is the least expensive men’s outfit rental) but it is really fun to feel like a part of the Faire and the quality of costume and service provided by the staff there made it worth it. They have costumes for men, women, and children (even babies!) that range from peasants to royalty. Very fun to explore!
After Matt was appropriately attired, we familiarized ourselves with the schedule for the day and talked
about which shows we really wanted to see and planned out our day. The girls were dying to see the horses and the knights, so we went to see the first joust of the day. One of the cast members, upon seeing that Fiona was a girl knight, explained that girl knights are called Dames instead of Sirs and told her about Joan of Arc and how she led a whole army. There is no charge for the jousts and they are amazing to watch. The skill of the knights is amazing, the horses are beautiful and their bond with the riders is very clear. It’s obvious how much training and work goes into learning the historic knightly skills that make these joust so exciting! Each quarter of the jousting field is represented by a different knight, and you cheer for the knight closest to you. Our knight won the joust and the girls LOVED it!
After the joust concluded, we went to see Jacques Ze Whipper’s show, which was really fun and I will let
you mommies know that many of the women in the audience enjoyed seeing Mr. Ze Whipper take his shirt off and perform his flaming whip finale. Everyone in the audience enjoyed seeing his skills with the whip as well, but maybe not quite as much as the ladies.
One thing to be aware of is that the performers in the Faire’s shows are not paid by the Faire, they instead
earn their living through the tips they make after the shows are finished. This means it’s very nice to put some money into the hat for these skilled performers. We never felt pressured by the performers but they did let you know that a tip was greatly appreciated. In truth we were happy to do that and the girls enjoyed meeting and thanking the performers afterwards.
After that we brought Fiona to “Knight School” which is also free. There a “Grand Prince” and his knight
give some history about the knight’s roles and duties and gave some sword instruction to the students. All of the young knights were then brought to a stage where they were introduced to King Richard himself. The young knights were then knighted by King Richard and introduced on stage as Sir (or in Fiona’s case Dame). Coco and some of the other young princesses were also made “Ladies of the Realm” at that point and introduced as Lady to audience. The King and his court of nobles then invited the young knights and ladies to parade through the Faire with them, which both girls really enjoyed. Everyone bowed and clapped as the
parade went through. The parade ended on the jousting field and King Richard congratulated all the young knights and ladies and then invited them to stay for the next joust.
This was a real highlight of the day for them, Fiona has been telling everyone that she was knighted and it made the girls feel so special to be involved in the show in this way. The school, the knighting, the parade,
being on the jousting field – this was all free and simply a part of attending knight school. For those who have been scared off from attending the Faire because of cost, I am here to say that it is possible to have a great time at the Faire without going bankrupt!
We stayed and watched the second joust because the girls really couldn’t get enough of the horses and
knights. One thing to know is that there is a storyline to the jousts that I wasn’t aware of, the first joust ends with all four knights having won a different contest within the joust. The second joust ends with a final victory
by only one knight. One of the defeated knights ends up being a very sore loser and has one of the other knights shot by an arrow – which fortunately doesn’t hurt him because of his armor. However this sets up a challenge between the knights for a final joust at the end of the day which is to be fought “to the death”! Having two very sensitive kiddos, we purposely chose not to attend the final joust of the day, knowing that it would involve death and fighting. Of course this is all a show, but my two are still young enough that this feels
very real to them and I knew it would be too much for them to process. I’m sure other kids would LOVE that part of it, but that’s for you mamas to decide for your own families.
After the second joust, we decided to have some lunch. We did end up buying $10 worth of food tickets – the
Faire choses to use this ticket system instead of cash which requires you to buy a minimum of $5 worth of tickets. With our $10 worth of tickets we were able to buy two big servings of French fries as a treat to supplement our food from home. Not terribly historic but warm and yummy on a chilly day. So, yes, food is
expensive there but you don’t have to buy it and there are some delicious options if you do chose to buy tickets.
Princess Academy was held after lunch and was taught by three princesses of the royal court. They gave
some historical background on princesses and ladies and their roles at court. They taught the girls princess skills such as curtseying and how to rise up those curtseying too you. It was much shorter than knight school, but enjoyed very much by my three year old.
We then went to see some of the amazing craftsmen who have shops at the Faire. Fiona was awestruck by the blacksmith and loved seeing him pound away at making a sword. She could have watched him work all day and would have LOVED to bring home one of the swords he made.
The girls were then allowed to pick two rides each (they all cost about $3/person). First they chose the pony ride, where they were able to ride a tiny pony (for Coco) and an actual large horse (for Fiona) along a wooded path, they really enjoyed themselves and said it was the best pony ride ever!
Next they picked a swinging boat ride where the riders sit in a large boat which has rope pulls hanging
inside of it and one person pulls one rope and the other pulls the other rope which makes it swing back and forth. There are also really large men there that help push the boats high and fast. The girls were shrieking with laughter. This ride also costs $3/person.
These were the only rides we went on as part of our cost containment system, though there were many others that the girls would have loved to have tried. After the rides we thought we would go see the Mud Show, but we didn’t last long as the raunchy humor was far above the girls’ heads and they were getting bored. The show was clearly hysterical for adults and I was bummed out not to watch it. Instead we went over
to see the Tale of the Tiger show. The girls were excited to see this as we had heard there is a Liger (a rare animal that is a combination of a Lion and a Tiger, which I had never heard of before I saw Napoleon Dynamite).
Everything I had read, raved about this show and I was looking forward to it as well. However, the show itself was kind of a dud. Ladies wearing animal prints parade out animals on a leash, including a tiger cub (SO cute!) and a few different tiger breeds, as well as a chimpanzee. They then put them on a table and fed them from a baby bottle. Two of the show’s performers spent the entirety of the show yelling at people that stood up or made any noise in the audience. It just felt weird, it doesn’t seem like the animals would be controlled simply by a leash as many of them are very large, and if it’s so dangerous that people can’t move or make noise in the environment surrounding the animals, it doesn’t seem like the safest choice having them at the Faire. At the end of the show, the performers noted that the liger has now been retired so we would not have the opportunity to see him anymore though they hope to bring some liger cubs to the Faire next year. Though I was disappointed in the shows, the girls enjoyed it and Coco even said it was her favorite part of the Faire.
This was our last show of the day, as it was about time to head home at this point. Though we only caught
a few of the shows, there are many, many more. The shows are repeated through-out the day on different stages throughout the fairgrounds, so there are plenty of opportunities to catch the shows you’d like to see. I’m not sure how appropriate the other shows are for kids, as many of them seemed aimed towards adults.
And this is my one critique of the Faire, it seems to have a bit of an identity crisis, not quite sure if it’s for adults or kids. A lot of it is aimed at adults, though they have created a few kid-specific options like the knight school and princess academy, but there is a lot more to the Faire that would best be enjoyed by adults. There
are tons of artisans there that I didn’t have the opportunity to appreciate and many shows that I would have loved to have seen if I was there without the kiddies.
It was my first time at the Faire, I’ve always wanted to go and I’m so glad we did. The day was full of shows, jousts, lessons, rides, and great people watching. It seemed like there was always a show to be watched and never a lack of entertainment. The cast members were really kind and helpful throughout the day, and went out of their way to make my kids feel special. The kids are already asking to go back and we definitely will, though maybe when the kids are a little older and can enjoy even more of it.
King Richard’s Faire is open until October 20th, go check them out and let me know what you think! If you’ve been before, what was your favorite part? What did your kids like?
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