Located 40 miles from downtown Toronto, Milton is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Canada. Laetitia chose it for today’s destination not for that feature, but because it is the home of the Ontario Renaissance Festival, one of dozens of such events featuring re-enactors in period costumes held annually in the United States and Canada. Such festivals are often referred to by the abbreviation, “ren fest” and the word-of-mouth advertising by which many Mind’s Eye participants find out about particular tours led to a bit of confusion on this occasion. When she met her group in Milton near the festival’s entrance gate, she found one couple equipped with binoculars and field guides who thought the day’s tour was a wren-watching expedition.
The festival was a cornucopia of delights, featuring unusual food and wares to buy, but mostly it was an enormous outdoor stage where Laetitia’s group was surrounded by theatrical events. There were sideshows depicting troubadours and pirates. There were acts with repartee interspersed with swordplay, and others with gallows humor. There was a dairy-themed act called “Milque Maids” that featured performers with cheesy names like “Brie” and “Velveeta” and equally cheesy dialogue. And there was jousting.
The featured performers in the jousting event that Laetitia and her group watched were billed as “The Knights of the Grail.” Sir Pavel of Prague and Sir Brian of Bathgate wore resplendent period costumes, the latter dressed in shining plate armor and the former in chainmail. During the performance, Laetitia asked a woman dressed in heraldic finery who was working the jousting arena how she liked her job. The woman replied, “It’s fun, but it has its frustrations. My pet peeve is people who don’t pay attention when I introduce the knights, and then pester me later to find out which is which. I have a special retort for that.” Her retort engendered the limerick of the day.
The question that rose without fail
‘Bout those jousters, the Knights of the Grail
One from Prague, one Bathgate
One in mail, one in plate
Was answered, “The Czech’s in the mail.”