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B.A.R.F. Bay Area Renaissance Festival in Tampa, FL

No, I wasn’t throwing up, it stands for the Bay Area Renaissance Festival which we attended this past Saturday in Tampa, FL.  The locals refer to it as “BARF” which I find quite hilarious, so what better title for this blog post? That’s what I thought! Join me as I tell you all about our day and how it compared to other Faires- enjoy!

The original plan was to stay the weekend in Tampa, see the sights on Sunday and get a hotel night in.  After our car was acting up, we revisited the plan and decided to save the money on the extra stuff and just go to the Festival for the day.  With my experience on Faires, it’s always a good decision to get there early to get ready and experience the place before the crowds set in.  The plan was to get up around 7:00, shower and get the kids dressed up.

Well, sometimes our plan isn’t God’s plan, and Kyra’s dress didn’t fit.  I don’t want to get into it here about the girls dresses, but I will say that the expectations of them were not what either of us had wound up with. I tried every trick with Kyra’s but it was too small, so I had Emily left to dress up. Well, I get it in on her and the stitches fall right out at the top of the dress. Thankfully I had a needle and thread and sewed it all the way to Tampa so it would work- again, not what I signed up for but you got to do what you go to do.

Our car was STILL acting up, so we prayed and hoped that it would be ok on the hour journey to Tampa. It’s only acting up at certain times- drives great for a couple of days then BAM the power steering doesn’t want to work, or works at 50%.  Because this could go on now or a month from now, and yes, we have had it taken in to look at, we decided we would just go for it.  Nervously, we got there in one piece and made it with no interruptions- Thank you Jesus.

The Festival is located across from the Museum of Science and Industry and also the University of South Florida.  With free parking, we were parked under the trees of Spanish moss and  an overcast sky. Yes, with not only the drama of the dresses, and the car… the weather was crud. I kept thinking “Maybe God doesn’t want me going to this today” but we kept moving forward.

After everyone was ready and dressed, we walked to the Festival Entrance. If you brought 5 cans of food, you got $5 off your admission- since we don’t have an abundance of extra canned goods, I brought enough to save off one of our tickets. The total for the four of us with tax came to about $62.  Yes cheaper than Disney or Sea World, but also not as much to do.

When going on an opening day, to any Faire or Festival, you have to remember that it is opening day. What does that mean? Well, for this Festival, they were very disorganized. I understand that the first day is always crazy trying to run everything, but the very basics they didn’t seem prepared for.  We were at the Gate, and ONE window opened up at 9:30 a.m. Now, the Festival itself wasn’t opening until 10 a.m. , but BECAUSE it was opening day, they should have known many would be there early to buy tickets. Now, I don’t know their policy on this, as I am new to this one, but they only opened one window. The line was VERY long and all of us stood in it up until 10 a.m. – then all at once four other windows opened up and everyone rushed them. There was no clear signage at all above any of the ticket windows for which one was WILL CALL, CASH, etc..  After standing in the wrong line for half an hour, we moved to a different window where we handed the food good in and bought the tickets. For advertising about donating food, no one knew where to hand it in.  I was disappointed at how very disorganized they were.

We were in line for the gates to open, and the time was 10:15 a.m.- they held the crowd after the official opening time- not the best thing to do.  The King and Queen came out and welcomed everyone to the Festival, and I will say, I LOVED the King. In Bristol we save “God save the Queen” but in the small town of Fittleworth we said “God save the King, and long live the Queen!” Apparently they don’t want God to save their Queen, LOL.   We finally got inside the gate and were greeted by the cast of court royals and villagers. I wish I didn’t have Bristol so tattooed on my brain, because with everything I saw, I compared it to that.  They all seemed friendly, but I missed my Moonie, my Jane, my Craig Minstrel, and my Swordsmen.

We enjoyed the Tortuga Twins, the New Minstrel Revue, and loved the duo called “Nature of Mercy.” We spent some time talking to them and found out they had not only heard of Bristol, but they both had worked there before and one had met his wife there. After listening to the New Minstrel Revue, Craig of Farrington was in my thoughts and then I realized that these guys were from Bristol as well.  A small piece of my home Faire had shown its face, and it truly made me happy.  It also made me super excited to head to Bristol this summer to see all of my old friends again.

Emily rode her first horse, she has ridden ponies, but this was her first official horse. She chose the white one because it reminded her of Maximus from Tangled, but her horse was indeed a girl named Dotty. Emily looked so pretty on the horse, and I was so happy for her to have that moment.

The food was pretty good, but again, they weren’t ready. They scream and yell for people to try their sodas, food, and snacks. I went to get a soda, and they didn’t have any cups. They dumped a water bottle for me and filled it with soda for me. It was a nice thing to do, but odd to me there were no cups. Emily later wanted ice cream and it wasn’t “soft enough” to serve- what? In 10 years at Bristol, none of this had ever happened to me.  Advertising, then opening your booths when you aren’t ready just looks tacky.  They can justify it all they want with “Its opening day” but it is THE day you knew you were opening, so how should we feel bad? I dont mean to complain, I really did have a great time.

We had a great day, but it was no Bristol. After now being to two FL Renaissance Faires, I am getting nervous that I will never find anything as great as I did in WI. I guess I will have to fly back to Bristol every summer- I am sure my family and friends wouldn’t mind that.  It was fun to be with my awesome hubby and kids – and I enjoyed watching their happy faces. The kids both bought tails to wear, and I bought my Dad something special.  We stayed until 3:30 and then headed home, praying again our car would make it back in once piece. We did, it did, and we enjoyed some chicken wings while we all relaxed after a great day.  Thanks to everyone for their prayers – I hope you had a great weekend.

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  1. Have heard GA has an awesome Faire, will need to ask some friends who love going. They are big into Renaissance stuff, they have their own suit of armor and have a loom that they know how to use.
    I am hoping to go to BARF just to get into that atmosphere again, really do miss the PA Renn Faire and hope to be able to go up this year.


  2. I’ve never been to a Faire like this before, but until you started talking and mentioning how you enjoy them so much, I am interested in finding one in my area, if they do them? I am glad you went and had a good time, and enjoyed being with your family there. So glad that your car made it. Thank you Lord for provision! Am continuing to pray for car issues to be resolved 🙂


  3. Well, it didn’t live up to Bristol, but it sure is cool to see Emily and Kyra have so much fun. Nothing is ever like what we grew up with. And I suppose that’s where good memories come from. Thanks for sharing the stories and especially the pictures of your BARFy day.


  4. lovely pics, thanks for sharing them….shame about you having to sew/adjust the dresses yourself in the end – must say I was a little disappointed that Craig wasn’t wearing tights! lol


  5. Sorry to hear about the mishap with the dresses 😦

    I thought Craig was going to dress up too? I was looking for a pic of him in tights!!! ha ha


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