This lady was walking around the Faire selling ice-cold giant pickles. They were a surprisingly refreshing treat on a hot, sunny afternoon.
I don't think I'm alone in my near-crippling fear of interactive theater. If there's one thing I hate, it's an actor trying to drag me into their fictional world as an accomplice. If I pay for theater, I don't want to be an active participant; I want someone else to tell me a story. This fear of interactive theater is probably the reason why, up until this weekend, I never attended a Renaissance Faire; I didn't want to be bodily dragged to the stocks by a pair of underpaid weekend players, say, or forced to bow to a fictional queen.
But finally, my curiosity got the better of me, and I spent the better part of the day yesterday in Bonney Lake at the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire. It was a lot of fun! First, and most importantly, the WMRF is only as immersive as you want it to be. People don't come up to you out of the blue and start acting like you're part of the script. In fact, it was basically a state fair, with the usual booths full of people selling crafts, fried food, and plastic geegaws for the kids. In keeping with the time period, there are fewer rides—camel rides for the kids, and the chance to douse yourself with a bucketful of cold water in a loosely witch-hunt-themed attraction, but no enormous gas-powered ferris wheels and such—but it generally feels like a laid-back county fair, with more cosplay.
The other thing to know about WMRF is that you don't have to wear a costume. I certainly didn't, and I'd say more than half of the Faire-goers were in their everyday clothes. Although you do get to overhear some kvetching from Ren-Faire purists; my favorite was the woman who was complaining to her pirate friend about the how authenticity has gone out the window at WMRF with all the normally dressed people walking around, even though her corset-and-cape outfit was topped off by a Paire of Ye Olde Nike-Brande Runninge Sneakerres. I enjoyed walking around and seeing all the cosplay—the people-watching was definitely more entertaining than, say, the Puyallup Fair—and watching fire-eaters, gypsy horseback-riding gymnasts, and axe-throwers do their thing. It's not overwhelming in size and scope, and the daily schedules of events are manageable but varied. The WMRF continues for the next two weekends. If you're looking for something fun to do outside city limits, I recommend it.