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Within reach This is not reality – this is FANTASY, one of the greatest places for geeks and semi normal people to gather, be entertained, fed and have a generally great time.

The New York Renaissance Fair is celebrating its 40'th year of knights and wenches, comedy and drama, royalty and beggars and more. Although it's a more than a day trip from Lansing, it's well worth the weekend.

It took about 4 hours to make it to our hotel in Suffern. Restaurants are everywhere. Janet had said she wanted Red Lobster and we found one about 10 minutes away and had a delightful experience – but that's another story.

Many of us have been to our Sterling Renaissance Festival. Imagine if you will, a faire about four times Sterling's size with only minor inclines as opposed to the mountain climbing our nearby faire requires. For one of my age and stamina, this was positive point number one. But don't forget comfortable walking shoes. You will be doing a lot of walking…

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We arrived about a half hour before the gates opened where the performance began. The gathered multitude was welcomed by the Lord Mayor, and warned by the Sherriff who ranted about the evil Robin Hood (whose merry men were placed within the crowd).

Once the gates opened, cast members of all types from jugglers to beggars to rat trainers (really…) offered their greetings. The aromas from the many food vendors mixed into an intoxicating, mouthwatering cacophony. This is going to be a rough choice choosing what to eat. When the time comes, of course…

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Entertainment runs from a single immensely talented harpist, acrobatics, the Armored Joust and comedy acts – some of which are more kid friendly than others. I would NOT take the kids to see Ded Bob (ventriloquist act). Pretty raunchy but hilarious. Blackenshear the Curious is a kid friendly magic and comedy show. "Hey Nunny Nunny" is a comedy act that has performed at Sterling. Serious fun – and it was nice to see them again.

The best show (in my humble opinion) was the Aaron Bonk Whips and Fire how.

Yes, his name is really Aaron Bonk. 
Yes, he went to high school with that name.

He is an artist with whips, performs acts of daring-do, sabers balanced on his forehead while juggling machetes and finishes his act with flaming, cracking bull whips. He has a disarming manner and curiously twisted sense of humor. It was easily the loudest show in the Faire, both from the whips and the cheers from the crowd.

We decided that next time we go, we'll spend two days. A single day isn't enough to take in the whole faire, though we got a good enough taste to want to go back. Plan on spending a few dollars though. This faire will extract money at every turn. Parking was $10, or free if you wanted to park in the hinterlands and take a shuttle bus. Admission tickets are $25 for a one-day pass.

The food is pricey - $12 for a pulled pork – or as they call it a "Boar" sandwich, $14 for a turkey leg, and so on. The food is really good, and the portions are generous, but it was more than we had expected. Drinks are correspondingly expensive, $8 for a 4-oz. cup of mead or wine. $4 for a bottle of Gatorade and $2.50 for a bottle of water. I saw no drinking fountains on the site.

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And at the end of every stage performance, they ask for tips. Though no tips are required, we felt the better the show, the better the tip. Several of the acts we saw were indeed worthy of a contribution. In all, the money we spent was absolutely worth it, both for the faire and the expenses of lodging, transportation and food.

No, it's not around the corner, but if I can make it there, it's definitely within reach!

'Within Reach' highlights the food, wine and fun of places 'within Reach' of Lansing NY.  Of course, your reach extends exactly as far as you want it to. I am Monroe Payne, Uncle Monte to some. Come with me as I visit, taste and play in our own back yard, the beautiful Finger Lakes of Central New York.

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