Quite a few things were the same--a surprising amount of hand-crafted merchandise (like necklaces and even those little shoulder animals) were basically the same. But a lot was different. Unlike the Arizona festival, Florida's is set in a County park. That means that you have to pay $1.50 a person just to park.
Yes, seriously. I'd say on the up side that means you don't have to park in dirt, but actually, you park in...grass.
Since the festival is in a park, the buildings and stages are basically temporary.
Even the tickets look different than Arizona's!
So yeah, once you are inside, there are a lot more tents than Arizona's, and a LOT more trees!
Seemed to be a greater proportion of fried and fair-style food, but not sure. A lot more gyros than Arizona.
Two more things you won't see at Arizona's fest--numerous signs, and WATER!
(The signs are necessary because it is laid out like a meandering park--not more like a mall, like Arizona's.)
In some ways, it seems much more authentic than Arizona's. No giant mountains looming in the distance, lots more public areas where re-enactors are camping, some with displays...
(Careful where you take pictures, by the way. If you take pictures near the actual private tents, even if the area is fully open, you just might get accused of actually entering a tent that was closed, and get a long lecture on why that's not allowed. O_o )
On the other hand, some vistas in Florida are kind of wrong.
Park bathroom (before the lines got long):
For entertainment, we saw the Daredevil Chicken Club. Don't want to spoil the show for you too much, but that is a piece of banana in the air there. Unabashed silliness (and kind of gross).
And we saw Celtic Mayhem, a band that also plays local venues, evidently:
They had a musical version of Cinderella, which was rather unusual; I guess they do a different musical every year?
Florida really IS another world; it was rife with additional Disney references, like Cinderella singing "Godmother, please" (to the tune of "Under the Sea").
That's the prince there behind Cinderella (street sweeper Armon Hammer moonlighting as an actor):
After a brief bit of rain (just enough to make the benches wet!) we saw the falcon/hawk show, which was mostly the birds flying around randomly or being hooded while the man in charge told us all about falcons and hawks. Some of the information was interesting and some was repeated several times.
Hawks attack animals on the ground, and tear them up so much that you can only use the remains for stew, whereas falcons neatly kill their prey. Falcons were the birds of the nobility and hawks were the birds of the common man, he said. And falcons and hawks only hunt when they're hungry; they don't hunt to refine their skills, like cats do.
The Florida Renaissance Festival also had a "model pirate ship" that I'd expected to be somewhat larger.
And fry bread (it felt wrong to eat fry bread in Florida for some reason). It was really crispy; I couldn't even finish it, even with Maggie having some!
And later, this monstrosity (chocolate covered bacon!).
It was cold and wasn't very good (and I LIKE crispy bacon! Maggie doesn't, so she didn't care for it at the start). The bacon and chocolate were both good quality, but they didn't go together. I think I ate a piece, just to say I did. But it did garner attention while I was holding it while we waited for Maggie's deep-fried Oreos (delicious!). Everyone wanted to know how it was, and someone advised me to call 911 in advance before eating it, just in case.
The last thing--unlike Arizona's festival, Florida's has the greyhounds OUTSIDE instead of inside!
More pictures next Monday!