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I majored in History and Secondary ed, with an English minor… and I carefully tuck all that away when I go to Renaissance fairs. It is a lot easier, that way, to just roll with the anachronisms and have fun. One of the regular acts that comes through Ohio, The KamiKaze FireFlies, sells t-shirts that say “Just a bunch of nerds, playing dress up in the woods,” and I cannot add to that. This fair (faire?), whose grounds are permanently set up just south of Wilmington, Ohio, is nominally supposed to be set in 1590-ish. So they have a Queen Bess and royal attendants, and of course (during a normal year at least, which this is not) they have jousts and sorta-period-correct games, but any actual adherence to historical accuracy is no more than lip-service and happy accident. In any other year this would have been a massive affair, with long lines just to get into the parking field, long lines of people donning and fixing costumes while queuing up to scan their tickets under the portcullis, long lines for food and drink, and dusty hot crowds cheering on the stage acts and jousts.
This year it was like a ghost town. Tickets were strictly limited and purchased in advance. Half the grounds were roped off and closed, and among what was open there were numerous vacant stalls under the mock towers. But it all felt like a family reunion anyway; I recognized nobody in particular but they were all familiar anyway. The festival had been canceled back at the beginning of August. Then abruptly, near the end of August, they quietly posted on Facebook and elsewhere a partial reversal: for three Saturdays only, on a presale basis, they would open. The tickets sold out in days and the owners added a fourth Saturday. That sold out in 48 hours. We were among the lucky ones, doubly so since the day we got fell the day after our release from our family’s month-long quarantine stemming my Daughter #2’s COVID infection. For us, it was a celebration.