A crack rings out from the jousting arena as armored knights clash in the pursuit of honor, while sword-swallowers thrill crowds with their death-defying art, jesters spin windy jokes, and townspeople in 15th-century garb roam the grounds tearing into turkey legs with their teeth. The Connecticut Renaissance Faire hosts these medieval-theme blowouts every year, including the Robin Hood Spring Festival and King Arthur’s Fall Harvest Faire. Under the themed umbrella of each gathering, actors caper about a constructed medieval village, engaging in Old English–flavored conversation and clapping games with fair-goers. In a tented marketplace, vendors sell beaded crafts, art, and tyrannical-king repellent alongside stands serving mead, beer, and other satisfying sundries. Although the shows and events vary at each fair, past spectacles have included archery displays, pub sing-alongs, and costume parades.
Although its name does hint at the long, sharp-scented ranks of Christmas trees, Mark's Tree Farm acts as a gateway to many more of nature's marvels. In tribute to the powers of Mother Earth, Mark grows the trees without the use of any chemicals. The expert stargazer also invites groups to follow his laser pointer and the aim of his telescope during astronomy tours on the farm's enclosed viewing space.
Among the whispering leaves, the sharp tang of evergreen boughs mixes with the aromas of hickory and apple wood in the cooling air. Mark lubricates all of his cutting tools, which slice chips and chunks for smoking meats with canola oil, rather than petroleum-based lubricants that can carry carcinogens. He also packages firewood in custom lengths to fit in different stoves and underwhelming time capsules.
At Alternative Approach Acupuncture and Therapeutic Massage, Mark treats patients with ancient Chinese medicine while Elizabeth finds and finesses painful muscular knots. The husband-and-wife team collaborate to blend acupuncture and massage therapy to ease stress levels, ease muscle aches, and help rehabilitate from specific injuries. Mark also offers specific acupuncture programs for smoking cessation and weight loss while Elizabeth treats children with special needs through specialized pediatric massage techniques.
Kaleidoscopic ribbons of fabric, including cotton, canvas, silk, and satin, unspool across Colchester Mill Fabrics’ expansive aisles, enveloping crafters in vivid designs from the industry’s most revered manufacturers. Hundreds of quilting books and patterns incite celebratory bellkicks beneath more than 5,000 bolts of cotton fabrics that dazzle retinas with soul-warming batik, oriental, and novelty prints from the wonder weavers at Hoffman, Timeless Treasures, and Moda ($8.98 - $11.98/yd.). Decorative fabrics (starting at $4.98/yd.), including tapestries and canvas coveralls from Barrow and Robert Allen, reanimate one-note living spaces, and cushion foam and upholstery fabrics soothe threadbare seats ravaged by sandpaper skirts and pantsless porcupines. Cozy crafters find knitting tackle lines and crochet hooks lining aisles alongside felt, stencils, and beads and complementing oblong tubes of yarn, and brilliant bundles of faux flowers wait to be gathered into a festive holiday centerpiece or a chic everyday bouquet.
Owners Carolyn and Stan Giliberto of Over the Rainbow Toys, one of CBS Connecticut's Best Toy Stores of Hartford, regale youngsters with specialty toys from trusted U.S. manufacturers and importers, as well as one of the largest selections of toys from Playmobil. A cheery sales staff stands by to help parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles discover age-appropriate gifts, while warning customers against common child-gifting flubs, such as presenting second graders harboring tightrope-walking aspirations with wire and a balancing pole. Arts-and-crafts projects, science and learning kits, and both kid and adult jigsaw puzzles fill the bright store. Young ones can sputter airplane impersonations with a Playmobil Click and Go jet ($11.99) or hone pin-toppling skills with the sunny colors of a Happy Giddy bowling set. A set of frog-shaped baseball mitts ($12.99) enables kids to impersonate their favorite major leaguer in the backyard and prevents calamities in china shops. The shop also offers creative, free gift-wrapping, sparing parents the inconvenience of hiding toys by putting them inside of other toys.