How To Survive Your First Time at ORF

How To Survive Your First Time at ORF

So you’ve never been to a renaissance festival before! Well, congratulations! You couldn’t have picked a better one to start with. Maybe it was the call of bagpipes or the belly-dancers swirling skirts. Perhaps it was the promise of beer on Sunday or the wine and mead tasting. Whatever it was, you decided this was the weekend to go on an adventure and try out the Ohio Renaissance Festival.

Maybe it was the call of bagpipes or the belly-dancers swirling skirts. Perhaps it was the promise of beer on Sunday or the wine and mead tasting. Whatever it was, you decided this was the weekend to go on an adventure and try out the Ohio Renaissance Festival.

But where do you go? What do you do when you get there? With the crowds of people, the colorfully dressed cast, and all the shouts pulling your attention in their direction, it can be hard to know how to make the most of your experience here. Relax! Faire is all about enjoying the moment and letting yourself discover what lies around the next corner. But there are a few things that will help make your experience a much more enjoyable one.

KNOW YOUR FORECAST!

ORF is known for having a wide variety of weather through the September and October months. Everything from hot and muggy to freezing with snow on the ground. So check the local weather forecast and make sure you dress for the occasion. The first weekend especially tends to be hot and humid.

Dress in light fabrics like cotton or linens

I know! You are very eager to get into your first corset, but let’s not invite heat exhaustion to the parade. Make sure to bring your shade with you if you can. Wear a hat or buy a parasol as soon as you walk in the gate. Apply sunscreen liberally and bring water. The last thing you want in the middle of a beautiful faire day is a trip to the emergency tent.

ARRIVE EARLY

ORF may not open until 10:30 a.m., but believe me that parking lot fills up quick! Not to mention the traffic on I-75 can get backed up with folks heading to the faire and Caesar Creek. Do yourself a favor and head off early. A good parking spot near the front will save you a lot of trouble after a long day at faire, and you’ll want to get in line at the Will Call to get your tickets.

Throw wide the gates, and fire the canons

Queen Elizabeth I welcoming visitors atop the front gate.

Before ORF opens its gates, there is a show from the cast to welcome you to this glorious day at faire! Think of it as part 1 of a 4 part show that can be continued throughout the day by attending different shows and events.

To continue the story, make sure to catch the Pirate Comedy Stunt Show, the Chessmatch, and the Closing Gate for the story’s conclusion!

CLEAR THE LANES!

Here come the Parade! The parade occurs every festival day at noon. Photo credit: Checkmate Photography

Every day of ORF at noon starts the parade, your perfect opportunity to watch the entire cast of the faire walk through the streets along with performers, banners and the ORFans! Find a good place to sit back and watch! For my money, the best spots are the 1572 BBQ, the Y Bridge next to the Marco Polo Grill, the Swordsman’s Theater, and the seats at the Kamikaze Fireflies Stage. Make sure to stick around after and watch the stage acts. You’ll be happy that you did.

BUT FIRST WE FEAST!

Giant roasted turkey legs weighing in at nearly 2 pounds are the signature menu item at the Ohio Renaissance Festival. Photo credit: Checkmate Photography

There is always a lot of excitement going on and plenty to do during the ORF season, and of course, you’ll want to see it all. But I strongly recommend taking a break for lunch around the time the first joust begins at 12:30 p.m. Not only is it the hottest time of the day, but once the joust ends the crowds will head straight for the food and drink stalls. Take a break and get your food early.

Not only will this ensure you have your pick of the amazing selection available, but you’ll be more likely to get a table in the shade and be on to the next show while everyone else is waiting in line for their turkey legs. There are three Full-Armored Jousts during the day, so never fear! You have two more opportunities to see knights clash on the field of combat!

LIMITED TIME ONLY!

Every weekend has its own theme. In keeping with this, there are usually many events exclusive to that weekend. Take a look at the marquee board just as you enter the village and look for anything not listed in the map/schedule. A lot of these events are audience participation, like the turkey leg eating contest during Barbarian Weekend. Some are just pure pleasure to watch, such as the herding demonstration on Highland Weekend. Find time in your day to attend and take plenty of pictures. Be sure to tag them #orfstories!

DON’T RUSH!

There are fourteen different stages at ORF, each one with a constant rotation of singers, jugglers, comedians, and performers waiting to entertain you. No matter where you go there will be something to do and something to see. Find a spot, grab a drink, and see what happens. You may be surprised at the next act to walk up on the stage. Especially when it comes to hot days, you want to take the opportunity to relax frequently so you don’t get overheated. Wherever you are at ORF, the entertainment will find you. So don’t worry over missing a showtime, because in the end all the world’s a stage.

THE PUB SING!

What’s the best way to end your day at ORF? Hit up the Aleing Knight Pub across from the Jousting Arena and join in with all the songs and bawdy humor as you toast to the faire! The Aleing Knight is by far one of the busier pubs, so take a friend with you so one of you can grab a seat while the other gets in line for an ice cold drink. It makes for the perfect closing experience. A hot day, a very cold mead, and listening to the Wenches-a-Wailing recount their romantic exploits before Father, Son & Friends belts out a ribald sea shanty. It just wouldn’t be the end of a faire without this.

Y’ALL COME BACK NOW!

Faire is something that gets into your bones. It gives you a rush to come and play for a few hours and leave all of the 9-5 behind. Bring your family, bring your friends, and let everyone delight in the whimsy.

The Ohio Renaissance Festival runs for nine amazing weekends and each time it is an utterly different experience. Every time you will meet new people and find new things to try out! So buy a season pass and visit as often as you can. I promise you’ll be glad you did.

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