This weekend marks the last chance for locals to get out and enjoy the Bay Area Renaissance festival, a 28-year tradition that transforms an expanse of tree-dotted greenery into a 16th-century village.
Jugglers, magicians, fire eaters, minstrels and a cast of roaming performers in period dress offer constant live entertainment, and stage shows feature skits that attempt to engage fest attendees. The most appealing diversions in this vein are probably the Warhorse Productions Joust — which pits two horseman against each other in a dramatized clash — and Human Combat Chess, which has actors taking on the roles of chess pieces in a routine that's one part physical comedy, one part head-to-head combat.
There's food aplenty, from turkey legs and roast ears of corn to hamburgers, barbeque, scotch eggs, scones and apple dumplings served with a heavy scoop of vanilla ice cream, and beverages include the alcoholic variety — beer, wine and even mead. The marketplace features a range of artisans and craftspeople hawking handmade jewelry, scented candles and oils, leather goods, musical instruments, face and body art, and plenty more. Human-powered and animal rides, and several special offerings — from the six-course Feast of Fantasy to the Queen's Tea — round out a medieval good time.
Bay Area Renaissance Festival, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sat.-Sun., through April 1, Fowler Avenue and 46th Street (in the fields adjacent to the Museum of Science and Industry), Tampa, $15.95 adults/$7.95 children 5-12 (free for kids four and younger), renaissancefest.com. —