We’ve been to two “Renaissance” festivals in our travels, one in The Woodlands area northwest of Houston where we saw, among many things amusing or weird, or both, people dressed in nothing but chain-mail, some of them gnawing on giant turkey legs. A guy making swords tried to sell us a blade he said was pulled out of some centuries-old fortress ruin in China (yeah, right). It was, nonetheless, a fun way to spend a long afternoon with good friends we were visiting.
The other festival — King Richard’s Faire — was a smaller, seasonal one held yearly in late summer and early fall in Carver, the heart of cranberry country, and it, too, was entertaining and a good place for people-watching. Spread over 80 mostly wooded acres at 235 Main St. (Route 58), King Richard’s will open this weekend and be populated with all sorts of entertainers including acrobats, jugglers, dancers, minstrels, fire-eaters, and jousting knights. There’ll be food and drink vendors, as well as face-painters, psychic readers, and artisans hawking pottery, jewelry, period clothing, scented oils, armor, and lots of leather.
Suspend your disbelief and bring imagination. The festival, touted as the finest in New England, opens Saturday, Sunday, and Labor Day from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and continues on weekends and the Columbus Day holiday through Oct. 20. For more information, visit kingrichardsfaire.net.
A long swim indeed: If you’re on the Cape or the islands, you might want to get out to see this in person: Doug McConnell, a longtime summer visitor to Martha’s Vineyard and veteran open-water swimmer, will attempt to swim 18 miles from Nantucket to the Vineyard on Monday to benefit “A Long Swim,” the nonprofit organization he cofounded to raise money for research on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, which claimed his father and sister and is diagnosed in more than 5,000 people each year. The publicity literature for the swim says McConnell’s wife and adult children will be part of the crew helping him make the estimated 10-hour swim, checking for fatigue and hypothermia, providing sustenance periodically, and keeping him on course. McConnell “will wear an ankle device equipped with shark deterrent technology,” the publicist says. The swim is scheduled to start at 8 a.m. at Eel Point on the western end of Nantucket and finish about 6 p.m at the Edgartown Lighthouse on Martha’s Vineyard. A landing party reception and press conference will begin at 5 p.m. at the Harbor View Hotel, 131 N. Water St., Edgartown. You could also track the swim in real-time at track.rs/alongswim, or follow McConnell’s progress on A Long Swim’s Facebook page, which will live-stream it. Visit alongswim.org.
Hopper on: On Saturday at 10:30 a.m., go see the Gloucester landscape and architecture made famous by realist painter Edward Hopper on “Hopper’s Houses Walking Tour,” offered rain or shine through the Cape Ann Museum, 27 Pleasant St. Reservations are required. Visit capeannmuseum.org.
Last days: Old Sturbridge Village, the immersive and interactive museum with costumed historians set in a 19th-century New England village, is offering free admission for up to three youngsters 17 and younger when accompanied by a full-paying adult. The program ends with August, so these are the last few days for families to affordably get a detailed look into the past and see dozens of antique buildings in the village, which opened in 1946 and is one of the country’s oldest and largest living history museums (it’s the largest in the Northeast). Visit www.osv.org.
Finally, here is the last list of attractions to which the Highland Street Foundation is sponsoring free admission on Friday for its “Free Fun Fridays” program: Cape Cod Museum of Natural History in Brewster; Capron Park Zoo in Attleboro; EcoTarium in Worcester; Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester; Hull Lifesaving Museum; Mass Audubon’s Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in Topsfield; Mass MoCA in North Adams; Museum of the First Corps of Cadets in Boston; Old Sturbridge Village; and Osterville Historical Museum. Visit highlandstreet.org.