jousting Ren Fair/Fest

Surely they joust, three times a day, at the festival, which runs Feb. 9 through March 31. Jousting is among the top attractions.

Eagerly searching for his next customer in a crowd of tunic-wearing patrons munching on turkey legs, Shamus the Insulter parades through the Renaissance Festival grounds announcing, “Insults! Insults! Step right up to get your insults.”

Maidens and monsieurs alike approach Shamus to insult them or their loved ones, “from the ages of 4 to 98.” For the right price, Shamus will give a beautifully articulated insult, or compliment, rated “family-friendly G all the way through adult NC 17.”

Shamus, along with several other characters, can be found at the Renaissance Festival from Saturday, Feb. 9, to Sunday, March 31, in Gold Canyon.

The Renaissance Festival launches visitors into the 16th century to enjoy a time of jousters, kings and queens, said Marketing and Sales Director Sanja Malinovic.

“This is an incredibly interactive event with a variety of amusements,” Malinovic said. “There are over 2,000 costumed characters in authentic and elaborate period garments roaming the festival village.”

The 30-acre grounds house 14 stages with performances including “tall tales, acrobatics, song, dance and tomfoolery,” Malinovic said.

Born Tony Miller, Shamus the Insulter describes his job as a “street act” who interacts with the crowds all day.

“It is what I like to call intimate theater,” he said, “Part of the draw of coming to the Renaissance Festival is to have interactions with the characters.”

Along with performances and character interactions, Malinovic suggests guests go shopping and see the works of over 200 artisans with crafts like glassblowing, leatherwork, weaving, wood crafting, blacksmithing and pottery making.

Another major piece to the Renaissance Festival is the culinary experience, Malivonic said. Visitors can try foods such as turkey legs, steak-on-a-stake, sausage-on-a-stick, skewered chicken, ears of corn, Scotch eggs, baked potatoes with toppings, and filled fresh bread bowls.

In its 31st season, the festival has grown, Malinovic said. What started off as nine acres and 43,000 visitors has now become 30 acres and more than a quarter-million guests.

Malinovic said as soon as the festival ends in March, planning and maintenance begin in April.

Malinovic highlighted three new performances this year. The first is CRAIC, a Celtic band featuring “roguish vocals, rhythmic violin, intense percussion and blaring bagpipes.”

The second is Rick the Hypnotist, who picks volunteers “to take them on a journey they’ll never forget.” Read more about Rick at rickthehypnotist.com. Finally, there’s Rick and Jan Stratton, who juggle and move with Snorkel the Dancing Pig.

While there may be an additional cost for some activities, Malinovic points out several free activities and performances like the knighting ceremony, the three daily jousts, the petting zoo, the Mermaid Grotto, contests and glass-blowing demonstrations. Food and vendors require cash. ATMs are on-site.

Malinovic suggests wearing sunscreen, comfortable shoes, getting to the festival early and staying all day.

“There’s nothing like it in the entire state,” Malinovic said. “It is an event that brings the state of Arizona together in celebration of a period of enlightenment, bringing smiles and shenanigans to attendees of all ages.”

Shamus the Insulter is there to bring the shenanigans.

“I am a spoken wordsmith,” he said. “All in all, I am a professional insulter. This is the best thing I have ever done in my life.”

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