[quote_box_right]WHEN YOU GO
What: Arizona Renaissance Festival & Artisan Marketplace
Where: East of Apache Junction on US Highway 60, near the Superstition Mountains.
When: Eight consecutive weekends (Saturdays, Sundays, and Presidents’ Day Monday) from Feb. 9 through March 31, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., rain or shine.
How much: Advance Tickets $26 for adults & $16 for kids ages 5-12 at Fry’s Food Stores statewide. Children under 5 are always free. Tickets purchased at the gate are $2 more and tickets available on line at www.RenFestInfo.com,
Senior discount tickets (60 and over) are $25 only available at the box office. Free parking
Information: 520-463-2700 www.RenFestInfo.com[/quote_box_right]Longing for childhood days of make believe? Mythic heroes slaying dragons, sea maidens appearing from the sea, steel clad warriors jousting atop mighty steeds and knights in shining armor saving damsels in distress, this can all be found at the 31st annual Arizona Renaissance Festival.

There is definitely something for the children and the child in all of us to be found at the Faire. Arizona’s annual festival is one of the largest in the nation, held on weekends in February and March in its fanciful European style village constructed on a 30-acre site just below the foothills of the Superstition Mountains, east of Phoenix and northwest of Tucson. This is where you’ll find theater, circus, an arts and crafts fair, acrobatics, a jousting tournament, people-powered rides, and a feasting – all rolled into a non-stop, day long family adventure.

Merchants hawk their wares, selling everything from clothing to custom ceramics. Observe in awe at the demonstrations displaying skills of blacksmithing, jewelry making, glassblowing, leather work and pottery throwing. Over 200 artisans are housed in the market lanes filled with whimsical storybook shops.

There are 14 open-air stages where you can listen to raucous music and roaring comedy. Catch the swordplay and wordplay of festival favorites Don Juan and Miguel. It’s hard to miss the wild antics of The Tortuga Twins (three unrelated men in tights), and more than amusing to decipher Zilch the Tory Steller (the misspelling, like his miss-speaking is intentional). On or off the stage you are bound to rub shoulders with delightful characters. Don’t miss the-The Living Fountain. Or the Sea Fairies.

A variety of food and drynk is available to satisfy your appetite; bread bowls, stews, steak-on-a-stake, roasted chicken and so much more. In the midst of this enormous feast you’ll find the King of festival foods – the huge roasted turkey leg. Tempt your diet plan with desserts from the Cottage Bakery, the Cappuccino Inn, or the Chocolate Shoppe. Pubs serve beers, wine and soft drynks to quench your thirst.

And kids love this place. Dozens of activities bring out their smiles. Guests young and old will revel in the magic and mystery upon seeing the varied attractions at the Faire; Living Mermaids, witness the wonder of these lovely, elusive and charming sea fairies of the deep.

A Festival favorite with children is Mother (and Father) Goose brought to life, with costumed ducks and geese, Maggie, Mimi and Matilda. Kids will cheer for their favorite knight at the 5,000-seat jousting arena or try their hand at archery. Children delight in the return of a falcon, the King of sports, at the Falconer’s Heath. Kids also, love riding the people-powered Da Vinci’s Steam ship, the Swan Swing, Christopher Columbus’ “Voyage to the New World,” the Slider Joust, as well as, the Piccolo Pony, a rocking horse bigger than an elephant.

In addition to the people-powered rides, the Festival offers interactive games like the dragon climbing tower, the castle siege, Jacobs’ Ladder, a maze and an archery range. Kids will surely be asking for a hat, wand, garland, wooden sword, shield, or to have their face painted, or to make a sand dragon, or perhaps purchase a pet gorgi or drabbit along with other unique and interesting items available for purchase at the Festival. Those bolder of heart may feed the dragon or play King of the log.

The Renaissance Festival is Saturdays, Sundays, and Presidents’ Day Monday, Feb. 9 through March 31. For more information contact the Festival at 520-463-2600 or on the web at www.renfestinfo.com.