My family goes annually to the renaissance festival. It’s been something my wife and I were doing for years before children, and there’s little to stop us from keeping up with it now that we have them.
Of course, the worst part of the Maryland Renaissance Festival is the terrain involved – the ground can get very muddy if its rained recently, there are trees everywhere with roots that cause trouble navigating, and the back section is down a steep hill, all of which is trouble for a stroller. Still, we’ve managed to go every year and struggle away with the stroller, even if we’ve not had the opportunity to dress up anymore. (The other festival we’ve been to – New York’s – is just too much of a schlep really, especially with two kids, but the terrain there is far more level, and most of their paths are, IIRC, paved.)
Fortunately for us, the Monster doesn’t have sensory issues that would preclude his going out to what is a crowded, noisy environment. He’s been plenty of times before, and he’s never shied away from strange people, crowds, or loud, sudden noises. This year was quite different since we brought the double-stroller for him and his brother, as well as the fact that a lot of the acts we go to see weren’t around… but he seemed to have a good time. That said, except for the fact that we enjoy it, I don’t know in general that we’d be taking him there, since it’s not really well-suited for him between the vendors, shows and strange food. (We got him a hot dog and he was perfectly thrilled. My wife was not so much so at the cost.)
If asked, I think his two favorite things were the pirate playground towards the back of the lot – down that horrible hill I mentioned – and a pony ride. The latter brought about the only meltdown of the day, when his turn was done and he didn’t want to get off the pony. I’m half-considering seeing if, perhaps, there’s a hippotherapy outfit in our area that might take LISS funding (or if one of the LISS providers will pay for it, even), given how he seems to enjoy it…
Since the renfaire is a big place, we did put one of the ChildIDCode stickers on the Monster (see my review of the product here). The renfaire is a perfect example of how this sticker works, since much of the lot has poor/no cellphone reception, and it’s so easy for him to get away from us. I like that it’s very clear what the sticker is for without calling attention to the fact that he’s special-needs from a distance. The added level of comfort actually allowed us to let him walk a good portion of the day with us without a child-leash this year… that and the fact that I like to think he’d put up a fight and fit if some stranger tried to walk off with him.
I should say that it’s clear what the sticker is meant for to a sober person, actually. The one runaway incident we had was after a changing (renfaire is horrible for potty training) – he just got away from me while I was packing up the changing pad and tossing the soiled pull-ups. Fortunately for me, he was running over to a fence nearby so he could stare at an elephant and a camel. Unfortunately for me, it was right near a bunch of drunk college kids, who spied the QR code on his back. Being drunk, they of course did not notice the very obvious and decent-sized cartoon elephant on the sticker, or the words ‘SCAN IF LOST‘ which are in a quite legible font. They all got their camera phones out immediately to scan it, babbling something about how it’s probably for a free game or song or something. Idjits. I managed to get him away from them before they either removed the sticker or scanned it (which would probably have entailed calls to my cellphone, in my pocket) with a minimum of eye-rolling on my part.