Fairburn, GA – It’s a warm spring afternoon and rising above the din of the crowd around you is the sound of galloping horses. It grows louder and is followed by a booming thud and the splintering of wood. The crowd gasps as one of the knights teeters in the saddle before regaining his balance.
A missing page from King Arthur’s tales? Not exactly. This is the “original extreme sport”- Jousting- and it is a scene that is played out each weekend in the spring in Fairburn, Georgia. The festival is located just eight miles south of Hartsfield-Jackson Airport on I-85 at exit 61 (Fairburn, Peachtree City Exit). The festival brings together an outstanding group of performers, artisans, and actors that take visitors back to the 16th Century. The festival is highlighted by the jousting tournament and there are three contests daily.
Now in its 24th year, the Georgia Renaissance Festival features over a thousand costumed characters that mingle with the guests around the ten stages filled with an incredible variety of entertainment offerings. From jugglers to jousters, the festival offers such a variety of shows that the hardest part is scheduling your day. All of the shows are included in the daily admission that remains under $20 for adults and under $10 for kids ages 6 to 12. Children under five get in for free. Before your visit, check online for additional offers for discounts, free tickets with purchase, family packs, and food specials.
Two new acts for this year’s festival include performances by the famous Royal Lipizzaner Stallions and a five-ton bronze Medieval Carillon. But don’t discount some of the returning favorites like Dextre Tripp, the amazing juggler, tightrope walker, and knife thrower. His displays of skill and nerve will leave you speechless, especially if you are the target, I mean assistant that is pulled from the crowd to help with the show. Several of the acts present more than one show each day, but be warned, a few shows are definitely geared toward adults. These are clearly marked at each stage.
Over 150 artists fill a market of over 30 acres where you can purchase weavings, blown glass ornaments, pottery, jewelry and other items that you’ve watched the artisan create just moments before. You can rent period costumes for the day or even buy your own.
And then there is the food. The traditional turkey legs and “Steak on a Stake” from previous years are joined by new favorites like “Toad in the Hole” (a seasoned pork sausage baked in a pasty and served with gravy) that may cause delays in the concession lines as you and other guests struggle to decide which savory option to enjoy.
The Festival runs through June 7, 2009 and is open Saturday and Sunday 10:30-6:00 EDT, rain or shine. There are several hotels near the festival, and there are discounts for adding the second day to your visit. More information can be found at www.garenfest.com including discounts for ordering your tickets online.
Article by Keith George
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