On an early Saturday morning in mid-springtime, time slips swiftly backwards and a magical town mysteriously arises from the beautiful scenic countryside in Spotsylvania, Virginia as Lake Anna Winery transforms into a 16th century town known as the Shire of Stafford. Here for a few short weeks, the winery grounds become temporary home to Lords, Ladies, knights, wenches, peasants, gypsies, peddlers, entertainers and other odd assorted characters. These friendly inhabitants happily greet visitors and curiosity seekers looking to participate in the merriment otherwise known as the 2006 Virginia Renaissance Festival.
Full of expectations of possibly catching a glimpse of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth who was rumored to have been visiting, Virigniawind paid a visit to this enchanted town. Upon entering the Shire, we saw so many costumed characters milling about that it was difficult to distinguish who was who. While we were trying to orient ourselves to and decide the best way to begin our visit we were approached by a young peasant woman who insisted that my husband was her long lost lover who left her when his horse kicked her in the head. From that point forward, we never knew when she would pop up and serenade us with song as we passed by.
Besides this type of “personalized” entertainment, there are also staged shows appearing throughout the land. Whether your interests are in music, education, juggling, belly dancing, fortune telling, greyhound racing, jousting, human chess games, or plain old foolishness, you can always find something to satisfy your needs. Every weekend has a different theme ranging from a Celtic Heritage Weekend, to a Romance Weekend and ending with Frolic and Fantasy Weekend.
If you wander into the forest at the edge of town, you will find a gypsy encampment, a children’s activity area and pens filled with alpacas – adorable animals with huge soulful eyes that look like a cross between a small camel and a sheep. For those of you who wish to show off your physical prowess there is an axe throwing game, an archery range and if I wasn’t imagining it, I believe there is even something akin to a sheep tossing game.
If food and drink is what you desire, you can also have a pint of ale at the pub while being entertained by one of the many musicians or dancers. If wine is more to your liking, you can participate in wine tasting at the Lake Anna wine tent. There are also several food vendors to choose from and tasty treats available throughout.
What festival would be complete without shopping for the perfect medieval weapon, costume, cloak, or fortune telling pendulum? There are numerous merchants displaying everything from jewelry to incense. If you really want to get into the spirit of things you can even arrange to have your own themed wedding or hand-fasting ceremony.
So whether you want to shop, be entertained, learn about the period or spend a nice after noon at in the beautiful scenic countryside, Lake Anna Winery is the perfect place to spend the afternoon. But hurry as the festival ends on June 18th and the Shire will only live on in your imagination as it slips silently back into the past from which it came.
Location: Lake Anna Winery, 5621 Courthouse Road, Spotsylvania, VA
Directions: I-95 to Thornburg exit. Take Rt. 606 west through Snell. Turn left on Rt. 208. Lake Anna Winery is on left.
Admission: ages 6 and up $5.00, under age 6 free
Dates/Times: Saturday and Sundays until June 18 from 10:00AM to 6:00PM
For more information visit: http://www.varf.org/
For more information on Lake Anna Winery visit: http://lawinery.com