by Donny Yankellow
This weekend was my third time attending the Maryland Renaissance Festivalin about thirty years. For me, it is not a yearly event (obviously). I thought it would be fun to go with my family, and it was a fun day. We looked at art, watched some shows and the glass blower, ate some food, and played some games.
Surprisingly, most of the food was reasonably priced. Our lunches were $6-8 each, and the portions were not skimpy.
The festival itself seemed to have tripled in size since I was last there. There are a lot more games and a lot more stages and food vendors. Obviously, this makes for more to do. Of course, there are the wooden sword/weapon vendors that every kid wants to buy. Yes, mine did too, but he did not walk out with one.
Here's my problem with the festival. For a family of three it was about $60 for us to attend. That is admission pricing (it varies throughout the season). We expected to pay for food and drinks that we bought. I even understand having to pay extra to play a game, if it has a chance for a prize. Even theme parks like Kings Dominion and Hersheypark do this. Several of the games had no prizes or gave a wooden nickel for a prize when the game was $1.
However, charging $1 to go down a wooden slide or charging $1 at a game vendor to try one of the games is ridiculous. The slide and non prized games should be free. After all, you are paying a hefty admissions fee. The game vendor was truly wrong. You are charging me $1 to try a game you are trying to sell me (you get the $1 back if you buy a game)? Many people heard that and left the area. My son got lucky and the person helping him didn't ask for the $1. That is just bad business, and those were the vendors we saw doing this.
Don't get me wrong. The Renaissance Festival can be a fun experience, But nickel and dining the customer as we experienced is wrong. Hopefully when, or if, we go again (won't be for a while) things are better. Then again, they might start charging for seats at the shows!
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