Renaissance Festival adds feast worthy of a royal

Serving up food at the Ohio Renaissance Festival's Royal Feast
Caption
Serving up food at the Ohio Renaissance Festival's Royal Feast

Credit: Alexis Larsen

It’s a 5-course meal with a murder mystery added on

The Ohio Renaissance Festival never fails in its mission to be an enchanting feast for all of the senses, and this year has been no exception.

The 30-acre, 16th-century English village of Willy-Nilly came back from a year off bigger and better than ever.

Featuring more than 120 daily shows on 18 stages and more than 150 artisans, organizers are always looking to add to the special experience for guests and this year they’ve found some serious winners.

ExplorePHOTOS: Scenes from a Royal Feast at Ohio Renaissance Festival

Here are several new ways to enjoy your time in merry old England:

The Royal Feast: Each day at 3 p.m. in the Feast Hall, they are now selling tickets for a cozy five-course meal served up alongside live entertainment that will take you down a who-done-it murder mystery theme. It’s limited to 100 seats and is intimate and engaging and so worthwhile (more on that later).

Serving up food and entertainment at the Ohio Renaissance Festival's Royal Feast. CONTRIBUTED/ALEXIS LARSEN
Caption
Serving up food and entertainment at the Ohio Renaissance Festival's Royal Feast. CONTRIBUTED/ALEXIS LARSEN

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

The Ale Trail: They are doing their own version of an ale trail this year. Pick up a card at the souvenir booth or any of the 13 participating locations, get all 13 stamps and be entered in a drawing to win a 2022 season pass prize pack and a special T-shirt for your efforts. There are plenty of craft beers, ales, ciders, meads and specialty cocktails to choose from, and there’s plenty of time to do it so remember to drink responsibly.

New acts: They’ve added a handful of new stage performances to the schedule this year, including Celtic Mayhem, a new joust troupe, escape artists and the wheel of death.

ExploreRenaissance Festival meal planner: Fill your day with deliciousness

A new stage: An impressive new stage was built in 2020 for the KamiKaze FireFlies. “We’re so excited to share it with everyone this year,” said Marketing Director Cheryl Bucholtz.

Wood fired pizza: Across from the KamiKaze FireFlies stage at the Queen’s Pub, they have added wood-fired pizzas to the menu.

Special tickets: For $10 you can buy premium seating to the joust competition that includes cushioned seating under the covered viewing stand, choice of beverage (water, Pepsi products or bottled beer), a pennant to cheer your knight to victory. There’s also the Naughty Bawdy Pub Show at the Feast Hall for $20 per person which gets you an hour of songs, jokes and limericks that are for grown-ups only. The ticket buys two beers, ciders or wine cocktails and a commemorative pin. Online ticket sales end on Fridays at 4 p.m. preceding the weekend. A Whiskey Witches Whiskey Tasting ticket ($35 per person) and a pub crawl ticket ($30 per person) are also available.

Far and wide the best ticket out there is for the Royal Feast. It’s the perfect way to beat the crowds, get great seating for live entertainment in the form of a murder mystery madrigal, access to a nice bathroom and five courses of impressive food, plus a cool copper mug engraved with the Ohio Renaissance Festival logo.

Serving up food at the Ohio Renaissance Festival's Royal Feast
Caption
Serving up food at the Ohio Renaissance Festival's Royal Feast

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

When we arrived last week I loved the fact that it was nicely spaced and I didn’t feel like I was on top of anyone. They had a flag system to notify servers of anything guests needed, including all you can drink refills on alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

The first course sitting out to greet us was an underwhelming fruit and cheese “platter,” which thankfully wasn’t indicative of what was to come.

ExplorePHOTOS: Viking Weekend at the Ohio Renaissance Festival

Shortly after being seated, the entertainment started and didn’t let up for the next 90 minutes. The second course was an onion and mushroom bisque which looked and tasted more like a gravy than a soup. It wasn’t anything I’d encourage someone to seek out. I began to worry, but I should have known — these are professionals and just like 400 years ago, it’s all about the meat.

The two entrée courses were where this meal shined brightly. The third course was smoked turkey, pork shanks and honey roasted carrots. The turkey was tender and moist with the lovely smoke it was billed to deliver on and the pork shank fell off the bone with terrific flavor. The carrots weren’t anything special, but we were there for the meat and laughs and getting plenty of both.

Some of the food at the Ohio Renaissance Festival's Royal Feast. CONTRIBUTED/ALEXIS LARSEN
Caption
Some of the food at the Ohio Renaissance Festival's Royal Feast. CONTRIBUTED/ALEXIS LARSEN

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Next came a peppery prime rib and smoked sausage course with herb roasted whole potatoes. Again, the meat was the star of the event.

Each course was served by staff who came back offering a second round for those who hadn’t said uncle yet. The portions were generous and I was ultimately uncomfortable leaving with my body demanding several laps around the festival before navigating back to the car.

The final dessert course was a caramel chocolate pecan cheesecake slice that was a very nice way to cap it off.

Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Guinness, Harp, Smithwick’s and Woodchuck cider were all available on draft. Red and rose wine and Pepsi products were also available.

It’s a great ticket for those who want to experience some of the festival without the crowds and the long lines. It’s a great value for the $75 per person based on the amount of food, drink and access to entertainment in comfort.

Enjoy a drink and a murder mystery at the Ohio Renaissance Festival's Royal Feast. CONTRIBUTED/ALEXIS LARSEN
Caption
Enjoy a drink and a murder mystery at the Ohio Renaissance Festival's Royal Feast. CONTRIBUTED/ALEXIS LARSEN

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Credit: Alexis Larsen

Because it’s limited to a small number of people each day, it’s a hot ticket. There’s just one seating per festival day from 3-5 p.m. Ticket sales end at 4 p.m. the day before. Each seat requires a ticket for any child 5 or older due to limited seating. There is suggestive humor, but overall the show is family-friendly.

The service was great, the beer flowed steady, the entertainment delighted, the meat came in tender heaps and the guests left satisfied. Each year I wonder how they’ll top what they’ve done and each year they find a way, but the Royal Feast is definitely going to be a tough one to beat.

HOW TO GO

What: Ohio Renaissance Festival

When: Saturdays, Sundays through Oct. 31

Where: Renaissance Park in Harveysburg. Located just minutes off I-71, exit 45 or I-75, exit 38 on State Route 73 in Warren County.

Cost: Tickets: $25 (adults), $10 (kids aged 5-12), $60 (adult season pass). Children 5 and younger get in free.

Themed weekends: Romance weekend, Oct. 16-17; Feast of Fools, Oct. 23-24; Tricks or Treats, Oct. 30-31 featuring free entry for kids 12 and younger

More info: www.renfestival.com


Dayton Eats looks at the regional food stories and restaurant news that make mouths water. Share info about your menu updates, special dinners and events, new chefs, interesting new dishes and culinary adventures. Do you know of exciting outdoor spaces, new exciting format changes, specials, happy hours, restaurant updates or any other tasty news you think is worth a closer look at? E-mail Alexis Larsen at alexis.e.larsen@hotmail.com with the information and we will work to include it in future coverage.

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