Olde tyme Europe wasn't a very happy place, what with pestilence, famine, war, and death joyriding around the continent on a pretty regular basis. Luckily, there were also some entertaining parts: jousting, booze, and theater principal among them. Minnesota's RenFest provides the fun without the fuss over 22 acres and seven weekends, mostly filled with vendors selling everything from custom-made velvet capes to handcrafted candles. But you can also catch a Puke and Snot show, heckle some jugglers, or drop by the pickle vendor for a bit of bawdy phallic humor. Each weekend of the festival boasts its own theme: The "Highland Fling" weekend hosts the Scot-centric World Highland Heavy Games Championship, where burly, kilted men will toss improbably large things through the air; the "Wine Gala" weekend celebrates festival-goers' intoxicant of choice. Be especially sure to show up for the last day of the festival, when most of the staff will be in their cups in celebration. Sure, the historical accuracy of RenFest is somewhere between that of a game of Dungeons and Dragons and a high school production of Taming of the Shrew, but why not embrace the silliness, slip on your tights and tunic, strap on a rapier, and bring a few miladies and milords along for the fun? For more information go to www.renaissancefest.com or call 1.800.926.8215.
Saturdays, Sundays, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Mon., Sept. 1, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Fri., Sept. 26, 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Starts: Aug. 16. Continues through Sept. 28, 2008