Renaissance Festival opens at Cauley Square

Men and maidens will joust, swashbuckle and breathe fire in Cauley Square starting this Saturday for the Florida Renaissance Festival’s fourth year in Miami.

Last year was the 22-year-old festival’s first year at Cauley Square, said founder Bobby Rodriguez, and it went so well that organizers added a third weekend to the 2013 performance schedule.

“The people who came fell in love with the show, and the people who worked on the show fell in love with the location,” said Rodriguez, who expects about 2,000 people a day in attendance.

The festival, which starts at 10 a.m. Saturday, will run until sunset on three consecutive weekends at Cauley Square, 22400 Old Dixie Highway in Goulds.

Events will include performances by swashbucklers Buckle and Swash, the full-contact jousting group The Freelancers and comedy stunt duo Kamikaze FireFlies.

The jousting, Rodriguez said, is the heart of the show.

“It’s impressive,” he said. “If you can imagine two pickup trucks charging each other at 25 mph with 12-foot broom poles sticking out – that’s what it’s like,” he said.

The massive draft horses used in jousting are twice the size of an ordinary horse, he said, and the knights with their armor weigh about 300 pounds.

Performers said they hope to bring smiles to the crowd with energetic acts that teach attendees something about history.

“I just like making the audience laugh -- that’s the highlight of any of my days,” said Tom Zadoyko, 40 and member of Buckle and Swash.

Zadoyko and partner Ryan Gigliotti met in a Pennsylvania Renaissance festival 20 years ago and perform together when they get the chance.

“It’s a lot like dance,” said Gigliotti, 40. “You’re using your athleticism in special, technical movements to tell a story.”

This year, the Renaissance Festival also will bring lions, tigers and assorted reptiles to Miami for the Predators Unlimited animal show, Rodriguez said.

And Juan Ponce de León will roam the festival grounds in honor of the 500th anniversary of the discovery of Florida as part of the state’s Viva Florida 500 event series.

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