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Ah, the dead of winter in South Florida, when temperatures plummet to the depths of briskness, and armored knights joust to the death in Quiet Waters Park.

Well, OK, maybe not to the death. But joust they will at the ninth annual Florida Renaissance Festival, which begins Saturday. This year's "Ren-Fest" features all the shops (shoppes?), events, and entertainment one has come to expect from these things. Festgoers can enjoy hundreds of performers, the aforementioned knights, games, rides, replicas of 16th-century encampments, and more food than even Henry VIII could eat. For those who fancy something a little more substantial than turkey legs and sticky buns, the King's Feast beckons. Tickets for the feast cost $49 and must be purchased in advance, but that price includes admission to the festival, a five-course gourmet meal, a special souvenir, and reserved seating at the jousting events, right up in the box with the king, the queen, and all the other noble types.

This year boasts a few surprises in the Crafts Village, such as porcelain dolls and period clothing at LadyFayre Dolls, and heraldry and genealogy information at Somewhere in Time. And one can't forget the History Channel's Time Machine. The cable channel, one of the event's sponsors, will haul in a 48-foot trailer for the opening weekend only. Inside it features areas with information on the channel's most popular shows as well as interactive exhibits, where you can add your name to the Declaration of Independence or get behind the wheel of a taxi in New York City during the heyday of the Checker Cab Company. A little out of place in the land of mud beggars and leather-tankard salesmen, you say? Come on, it's all in ye olde goode funne.

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Dan Sweeney
Contact: Dan Sweeney

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