When the Minnesota Renaissance Festival started in 1971, more than 25,000 people came out over two weekends to celebrate in 16th-century style. The festival has since grown exponentially, welcoming nearly 300,000 people each year and becoming the largest renaissance festival in the country. So why should you visit? Here are a just a few reasons:
1. More than 120 food booths line the property, so try a famous turkey leg, bangers and mash, scotch eggs, crepes, cookies, pork chops, and more. Plus, lots and lots of beer!
2. Nearly 300 crafters and artisans sell everything from jewelry, pottery, woodwork, leather, hand-blown glass, paintings, and more. Even better, several of these artists can show you on the spot how they create their wares.
3. A family friendly destination within the fair, the Children’s Realm offers a place for kids to get crafty. They can even make a free magic wand.
Photo courtesy of Mid-America Festivals
4. A truly unique experience, the Feast of Fantasy is held daily during the festival. For a little more in cost, you receive a six-course meal (think French onion soup, roast beef and mashed potatoes, and cake) and two hours of entertainment. Jugglers, storytellers, belly dancers, and your hosts Laszlo and Jim keep you entertained throughout your meal.
5. One of my family’s most favorite traditions at the fair, Puke and Snot throw insults at each other and leave the audience in stitches.
6. Held three times each day, jousting matches, with knights in full armor, offer a chivalrous peek into the past when jousting demonstrated the physical strength of the knights and the horse.
7. Play darts, practice fencing, try your hand at archery, toss axes or knives, get lost in a maze, take a ride on a pirate ship, and so much more.
8. Each weekend revolves around a theme. Italian Carnivale (Aug. 18 & 19) features an Arabian horse show and a spaghetti eating contest; Royal Ale Fest (Aug. 25 & 26) offers free beer tastings and a BBQ competition; Silk Road (Sept. 1-3) showcases belly dancing to Middle Eastern music; Shamrocks and Shenanigans (Sept. 29 & 30) focuses on Irish traditions; and the remaining weekends provide more fun. It’s hard to pick when to go!
9. You can bring your dog! ($10 fee and registration required.)
10. Why not? Get down there and have fun (or off with your head)!
Info: The 42nd annual Minnesota Renaissance Festival runs weekends and Labor Day, Aug. 18-Sept. 30 and Friday, Sept. 28 from 9 a.m.–7 p.m., rain or shine. The festival is located on Hwy 169, three miles south of Shakopee. Price of admission is $21.95 for adults; $12.95 for children 5-12; four and under is free; pets $10. Parking is free.