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U.S.A. Popcorn Adventure #59
July 02, 2008

Fair Thee Well!

Princess Bride + Renaissance Pleasure Faire

Family movies don't get any better than The Princess Bride. A clever story-within-a-story, this film opens with a very modern boy home from school, intent on spending the day playing electronic games. When Grandpa shows up to babysit with a very un-modern idea -- to read a book together -- the young boy retorts "I'll try to stay awake." And oh, does he ever! With fencing and fighting, giants and monsters, there's plenty for the young lads. Our maidens were just as captivated with the fairy tale story line -- Buttercup, a beautiful maiden, falls in love with a farm boy, who promises to make his way in the world and then marry her. Of course, no romance goes untested, and the couple must battle evil Princes and dread pirates to rescue true love. Lest adults worry that this film is just another romp in routine fairy tale land, be corrected. With quips as sharp as swordplay, a cast of delightfully kooky characters and outlandish plot twists, we were as caught up in this fanciful fairy tale as our kids.

Within seconds of passing through the gates of a Renaissance Faire, your family will be swept back to a simpler time. Nearly everyone attending the fair gets into the spirit of the age (Elizabethan England, that is) by dressing in costume and speaking with phrases sprinkled with words like "thee" and "thou". Our kids were briefly stunned by the complete, enthusiastic involvement of the crowd but were soon throwing out their own versions of Elizabethan phrases. Get thee to a jousting match, indeed! Our kids quickly grew accustomed to seeing wandering minstrals, jugglers and bagpies and did some sword-fighting of their own. Family favorites at our Faire included a dragon maze, a swing set so large that a giant could ride it comfortably, and pony rides. The pleasure was all ours as we found ourselves knawing on gigantic turkey legs, shopping for cool leather pouches and enjoying the vibe of a crowd that is nostalgic for years gone by.

Film Title: Princess Bride
Directed By: Rob Reiner
1987, Rated PG, 98 minutes

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Film:

  • Why It's Worth It: We never tire of this modern classic, and love its anachronistic mix of modern dialogue in a fairy tale storyline. Robin Wright stars as Buttercup, Cary Elwes as Westley and Mandy Potemkin as the venerable Inigo Montoya; with cameos by Billy Crystal, Fred Savage and Peter Falk. Both hilarious and heartfelt, we promise this title will win your heart.
  • Red Flags: Buttercup and Westley must trek through a frightening forest, with deadly quicksand and nasty creatures. The cartoonish nature of the film makes this more friendly than fearsome, but little kids may need their hands held.

Our tips for talking to your kids about this film:

  • Famous Quotes Savvy:  "My name is Inigo Montoya.  You killed my father.  Prepare to die."  This movie's most famous line is uttered by a swashbuckling cavalier intent on avenging his father's death, played by Mandy Patinkin.  Ask your kids if they have ever heard those words, and what are their favorite lines from movies they love.   
  • Cinema Savvy:  Written by William Goldman, one of America's most talented screenwriters, this movie has grown in popularity over the years.  Some critics suggest that it is our generation's Wizard of Oz.  Ask your kids to compare The Princess Bride to modern fairy tale films and see what they come up with -- Shrek?  The Princess Diaries? 


A Renaissance Faire

Age Recommendation: Six and up
Time Allotment: All day, if not all weekend

Our Buttery Bits of Wisdom about this Adventure:

  • What Worked for Us: It is impossible to drop by an event like this without spending a healthy portion of the day. Prepare to stay until nightfall, so that you can let the kids explore at their own pace. Some kids like rides, and others just crafts so don't rush them. Our kids had never seen anything like this event, and had a blast once they gave over to the past.
  • Before You Go: Many fair participants enjoy dressing up for the day. If you're game, rent a costume for the day or improvise from the Halloween closet. Our kids were happy looking at other people's crazy outfits, and were content to go in their every day shorts and tops.

Our tips for enjoying this Popcorn Adventure around the USA:
  • Anywhere: Google your city + renaissance faire or festival. This Faires and Festivals site includes a state by state listing.
  • Boston: King Richard’s Faire is a fun re-creation of a 16th century English marketplace at festival time. Actors, dancers, puppeteers, jugglers, minstrels, mimes, magicians and musicians perform each weekend from August 30-October 19, 2008, including Labor Day and Columbus Day weekends. Located on 80 wooded acres in Carver, MA, it’s worth a visit. Open 10-6, cash only.
  • Houston: The Texas Renaissance Festival is the nation's largest, most acclaimed Renaissance theme park. Located in Plantersville, about an hour’s drive northwest of Houston, the 33rd annual festival will be open to the public every Saturday, Sunday and Thanksgiving Fri, October 6th through November 25th.  Costumed performers inspire continuous laughter on stages located throughout the festival with hundreds of daily performances. Visitors meander along shaded cobblestone walkways stopping in over 340 shoppes overflowing with unique arts and crafts or offering delicious foods and beverages.  Buy tickets online and don’t miss out!
  • New York: There's something for everyone at the New York Renaissance Faire. Enjoy entertaining shows packed with swashbuckling tales of loyalty and love, shop the 16th century Renaissance village, and test your skill at games like archery or knife throwing. The faire runs August 2-September 21 in Sterling Forest, Tuxedo, NY. Order tickets before July 24th for a buy 2 get 1 free special.
  • San Francisco: Come one, come all, faire maids and goode sirs: In August, the Golden Gate Renaissance Festival in San Francisco features feasts, storytelling, battle reenactments, and comedy acts, and all the heart-racing live entertainment associated with knights in shining armor, plus several living history re-enactments, including the account of Queens Jane Gray and Mary Tudor, and of Princess Elizabeth and their struggles for power.
  • Washington, D.C.:  The year is 1540 and King Henry is awaiting the arrival of Anna, Princess of Cleves... step into the past at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Enjoy games, music, dancers and entertainment for all- wee lads and lasses will enjoy Bob's Majik Show and Daniels Acts of Danger. Stroll the village in search of leather goods, swords, jewelery and costumes.  Food is plentiful and ranges from crab cakes to the traditional turkey leg. The fair is located in Crownsville, Maryland, about 30 miles from D.C. and is open weekends August 23 through October 19. 

Want more? Here are KOTC's picks of films, books, music, and websites that connect your family to more culture.

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