Every 10 or 15 years, it seems, I have to remind myself why I don't do certain things. And so it was today as I beat a hasty retreat from the permanent Maryland Renaissance Festival in Crownsville. The last time I attended a decade or so ago, I had been married a few years, was
childless and thought it sounded like a good idea at the time. The searing heat and humidity quickly took its toll on me as we made our way across several acres of parking field. Once among the trees of the festival area, the heat and humidity was still distracting but I was
amused by the "period dress," antics, improvisation and other entertainment.
But for the weather, I probably would have been a regular visitor and I wonder if I would have noticed the decline in the quality of the festival "organizers" as well as the festival goers. Today's visit has shown that the festival has been reduced to an open-air orgy of every fetish modern western society has to offer. Now I am not narrow-minded and easily offended, but there is a reason why we don't take our children to leather bars and strip joints. They should be the same ones for not taking them to the Maryland Renaissance Festival. It should be treated as any other adult entertainment establishment. As such, it probably would have to be closed down for it's proximity to schools and churches.
There was an even mix of voyeurs and exhibitionists, with some playing dual roles. Within those two broad categories were the bondage and sado-masochist crowd. The women and girls were consumed with a game of who can push more mammary mass up and out while at the same time appearing self-conscious every time a voyeur's jaw would drop. The festival, it seemed to me, was the chance for all those people who for whatever reasons didn't make it to Mardi Gras in Rio or New Orleans, South Beach, or to the topless resorts of the world to let it all hang
out in Crownsville, Md.
Pretty much gone from the first festival I attended was any pretense at entertainment. The paying throng were entertainment enough, themselves. Gone also is the pretense that anyone will learn anything about the Renaissance, or about the Middle Ages by attending the festival. Gone also should be the pretense that YOU are going to witness quaint reenactments of a typical day in a Middle Ages market or town square. You are going for the cleavage contests! Why your wife is going is beyond the scope of this column (though I sense it is a form of Sadism).
Me? Truthfully, I had no idea how bawdy it had become. I loathed the idea of attending all these years because of the heat and crowds of rude, obnoxious people.
The really sad part is that I noticed that there were tourists in attendance. Tourists from Europe!