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Renaissance knightmares

They lurk in corners, ready to attack at any moment. They invade one’s dreams, riding on horses, swords in tow. They even look pretty frightening.

Monsters? Not quite.

Knights in shining armor? That’s more like it.

They are some of the many characters at the Bay Area Renaissance Festival.My experience with festivals is limited, but after hearing how great and lively the yearly attraction was, I decided to check it out.

The festival was laid out on a huge field behind the Museum of Science and Industry, with various shops and attractions, including plays, tarot card readings and face-painting (though some were ridiculously overpriced).

I expected to see men and women dressed in 15th-century attire with olden-day accents to match. Of course, the actors were wearing flowing dresses, boots and vests, but characters should do more than just wear costumes to be believable.

Patel was sent to the stocks for criticizing several medieval performers’ anachronisms. MONTAGE PHOTO/CANDACE KAW

Upon arriving, I saw what I thought were two medieval pirates having a sword fight on a stage. In reality, only one pirate was in complete character, while the other man kept making references to pop culture, such as parents keeping their children away from Michael Jackson and his Neverland Ranch.

I am no expert, but I am pretty sure the King of Pop was not around during the Renaissance.

My most memorable incident was pulling a sword out of a stone for a mere $1. Two women asked me to step on an unstable slab of wood and find my balance “between good and evil.” When I found my balance, they asked if I “felt the power.”

After a quick snicker, I easily pulled out the sword, and the two women acted surprised (even though it was obvious that everyone is a winner in this game).

I received a hard clay necklace and was declared queen for the day. Apparently, the peasants were supposed to fall at my feet, but no such thing happened.

Jousting was another fun act to watch, though it was not quite as violent as one would imagine. Two knights in full attire rode in circles on their horses, egging on the crowd while trying to impress the ‘real’ queen, who was seated with her court.

The actual jousting was not the head-on collision I am used to seeing in the movies. It was more like two knights sword fighting when all of a sudden one pushes the other off his horse. It was not what I expected, but safety reasons probably limited the action. What they lacked in combat, they made up for in verbal performance.

The Festival was fun for the most part, but I will probably not be attending again because of the lack of renaissance in many of the characters. Furthermore, I don’t want to see another random person pull pink underwear over his jeans and yell, “In my man pants, I can do anything,” while running through a crowd.

There is nothing medieval about that.

The Bay Area Renaissance Festival runs weekends through April 1, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information visit or call (800) 601-4848.