Florida Renaissance Festival: Old-style family fun in Deerfield Beach

By Jennifer Jhon

Broon and MooNie the Magnif'cent
Broon and MooNie the Magnif'cent celebrate successful fire juggling during their show with the help of twin brothers chosen from the audience.

From swordsmen and superheroes to fire jugglers and fairies, the Florida Renaissance Festival has plenty to keep families entertained.

The fest, at Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield Beach through March 22, has themed weekends to appeal to various interests, including the upcoming pirate weekend (Swashbucklers & Sirens) on March 7-8, a Celtic weekend and the magical final weekend, Potter’s Witches & Wizards.

Although many of the women’s costumes flaunt ample bosoms, most of the festival is family-friendly, with the exceptions (Christophe The Insulter and everything in the Great Hall) clearly marked.

This isn’t to say some of the on-stage entertainers don’t make sexual innuendos or occasionally curse during shows – although MooNIE the Magnif’cent, who doesn’t speak at all during his solo shows, is sure to avoid the salty language. But most of the adult humor is masked by convenient jokes about swords and other props.

There is plenty of music, storytelling, games and rides for all ages to enjoy, as well as a petting zoo, a wealth of foods and drinks, and demonstrations of weapons and horses.

Looking for a champion to cheer? The Joust happens three times a day, pitting knights in armor against one another both on horseback and on the ground. The last joust of the day, at 5 p.m., is billed as a fight to the death, so the 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. shows might be better for little eyes and little ears.

If your kids like getting messy, encourage them to sit on the front row of the mud pit to see the Splattertime Players. This duo puts their own spin on classic tales, complete with singing, costume changes and face-first dives into a mud so black that I’m not sure it will ever come out of clothing.

The front rows at the Washing Well Wenches also allow the audience to get in on the action, although the soapy water doesn’t inspire quite the fear that the mud does.

Many of the shows will pull one or two audience members on stage for various jokes and tricks, so sit front and center if you love the limelight. Also, bring bills for the performers after the shows — most of them work on tips alone.

Throughout the Renaissance Festival, encampments are set up to teach visitors about the Ottoman Empire, pirates, weapons, the Silk Road and more. There are also dozens of food and drink options, vendors selling everything from clothing and jewelry to dragons and wings, and glassblowers who make customized wares.

The Renaissance Festival opens its doors at 10 a.m. and closes at sunset every Saturday and Sunday through March 22. Tickets are $27.50 for ages 12 and older, and $11.50 for ages 6-11. The park entry fee of $1.50 per person (ages 6 and up) is collected at the ticket booth, and general parking is free. For schedules and more information, visit www.ren-fest.com/.