This weekend, K and I made our way over to the Maryland Rennaisance Festival to go and see Albannach, the celtic battle music band mentioned earlier. We hadn’t been there since the time we went with Liephus and GuitarCJ, something like five years ago. It’s hard to believe I’ve been going to this thing, on and off, since 1993. As the larger than I remember crowds jostled us about and we stood in line for 20 minutes to grab a cafeteria-level packet of fish and chips, I reflected back to the first time I came here and how things have changed for me.

Mind you, this place is something of a local institution now. It’s run very efficiently and the number of “stuff” to play, buy, watch, and consume is enormous. The consistency of quality has remained at a high level the whole time, which is amazing. I’m hard pressed to think of too many other venues where people can dress up, get bombed, and generally be themselves in large numbers. It’s that last part, the “large numbers” one, that gets on my nerves. Both K and I felt we had outgrown this place, and perhaps the squalid crowd of drones and walk-ons is getting a little too authentic for our tastes.

Albannach was outstanding. Their energy and enthusiasm were at a high level, and the crowd was into it. I think the decision to place them on the Market Stage was probably not the best one. Although it probably can accomodate more people, it’s too flat and structured. I think there were several other stages they could have been placed on which would have allowed more freedom of movement and a better view. Listening to these people made you want to dance. I can only wonder what the drones sitting on the benches must have thought, surrounded by a mass of people dancing and blowing horns like maniacs.

There’s a place where you can buy coin medallions. You choose a design for each side, and the artisans use a large weight to stamp them into the metal. K bought herself a bronze coin with a black leather strap. The strap technology has improved since I first got mine, as she had a bead to adjust the front length with, and a tie to allow for a larger loop around the neck. She chose a tree-of-life on one side and a hummingbird on the other.

Seeing her wear it made me want to get mine out. Back in 1993 I bought one in silver with a black cord, with the face of medusa on one one side and the moon on the other. So when we got home I dug mine out and we compared, and wore our medallions together. I had to use some polish on mine, because I hadn’t worn it much since I put away my altar works back in the late nineties.

It turns out I spent the same amount of money on this visit as I did the first time, which brings back memories of when I got my medallion. K getting her medallion so that both of us have one feels like a meaningful coincidence, because I think this is the last time I’m going to go to the Maryland Rennfest. “The Carnival is Over”, to make a Dead Can Dance reference.

My first visit to the rennfest was a giddy and deeply meaningful adventure. I dressed as a fool, with a jester’s hat and bright colors. This last time, I looked like all the other drones, even though I could have dressed up like all the other walk-ons (having invested the requisite several hundred dollars for basic costume and accesories). K and I didn’t feel like standing in line for 20 minutes to get a drink, so we passed on the inebriation factor. That struck me as another change in the equation, as the drinking is one of the highlights. Oh well, the booze money went into the prize fund, and we bought some wonderful beeswax candles to burn while we do our various crafting activities at home.

What’s the next step in evolution for a young fool? Old dope? Looking back, it’s nice that this place has been a rock of dependability when so many other fun places turn sour. Good times. When I think back to the young man wearing the image of medusa and compare him to the person wearing it now, there is sorrow for me in leaving the place behind. I’m just uninterested in going back now, which has an unexplainable sense of the inevitable to it I never would have guessed at the start.

If it’s a story, it resolves. So what comes next, right? A door closes, a door opens. I bring my new Albannach CD home (I support artists I like with the cash on general principle) and K and I listen up. The stuff with the vocals blow, but the other two-thirds with the rumbling drums and the piercing bagpipe is pure chewing satisfaction. I’ll tell you what time it is! Time to get up and dance like a stupid fool. Because at the end of every story the fool shows up again to get you going on another madcap adventure.