Faires, Not Fairs, The Robin Hood Kind

A parade of performers marched around the grounds of the Robin Hood Springtime Festival on Saturday, May 31. Photo by Darryl Gangloff

I have been attending Renaissance faires for more than a decade, and I was thrilled to discover one in Connecticut running right now.

My wife, Kayla, and I visited the Robin Hood Springtime Festival in Guilford for the first time last weekend, and I was thoroughly impressed. As I walked through the gates, I was immediately transported back in time to Nottingham and Sherwood Forest.

Robin Hood himself brazenly walked by his wanted posters to welcome us to his festival. He even posed for photos with youngsters who were wearing his familiar green hat and carrying a bow. In fact, all of the citizens of the shire were incredibly friendly.

The size of the fairgrounds is perfect — not too big, not too small. After our first lap, we quickly learned the lay of the land and could enjoy the event without opening our map every few minutes.

Our first stop was the Garden of Eatin’ food tents. The classic turkey leg was on the menu, but I couldn’t pass up a bowl of macaroni and cheese with bacon and pulled pork. It was delicious. We also purchased a glass root beer bottle that not only acted as a great souvenir, but allowed us to receive free and discounted refills.

I was pleased to see so much ample seating under tents, helping attendees to get out of the sun, enjoy their meal and watch people walk by in wonderful costumes (you can rent an outfit if you’d like). The Thunderhouse Tavern always has talented musicians performing on a stage — in fact, bands of all sizes keep the music going constantly at various locations throughout the faire.

Next we decided to browse the tents with vendors selling their wares, such as garden statues, flowers, clothes, leather goods, armor and swords (both real and fake), incense, herbs, jewelry, art and more.

The festival offers ample entertainment opportunities. You can ride a donkey, get a psychic reading or pose for a photo. You can get your hair braided or your face painted or choose some henna body art. You can also try your hand at archery or darts, or throw daggers and javelins.

There are all sorts of shows to watch, which are held on various stages throughout the day. Luckily, the stages are very close to each other, so you can move between them quickly. Acts include a juggler, a sword-swallower, a freak show (both bizarre and entertaining) and armored combat. My favorite show was Gail Mirabella and her Dynamo Dogs; the animals seem to defy gravity as they soar through hoops.

The faire is a family-friendly event — both children and adults can find something to enjoy. We went on “Once Upon a Time” day, and the fairground was filled with youngsters dressed as princesses and fairies.

June 7 and 8 is the final weekend for the festival. I highly suggest making a day trip to meet Robin Hood and his Merry Men before they pack up the tents. Also, be sure to mark your calendar for the Connecticut Renaissance Faire, which will be held in Norwich on weekends and Columbus Day from Sept. 27 to Oct. 26.

The Robin Hood Springtime Festival will be held in Guilford on June 7 and 8 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tickets cost $16 for ages 16 and up; $10 for ages 7 to 15; and free for ages 6 and under. For information, go to www.robinhoodsfaire.com or call 860-478-5954.