W H A T   I S  A   F A I R E?  

A Renaissance Fair or Festival (also called Rennefaire, Renfair, Renfest, Renne Fest, etc) is an outdoor weekend gathering focused on recreating life as it was during the Renaissance. The first Faire was in May of 1963 when a school teacher and her husband put on the first Renaissance Pleasure Faire, an outgrowth of school projects, in California. From there, the Renfairs began to pop up everywhere.

While historical reenactments aren't exclusive to the United Sates, the Renaissance Fair is, arguably, a uniquely American variation on the theme, having as much the flavor as an amusement park or mall as of an historical reenactment. Some Faires are more 'fantasy' oriented with an abundance of swashbucklers, princesses, fairies and inhabitants of Middle Earth as much as there are those who try to stay as historically accurate as possible. But you can see wizards, monks, gypsies, barbarians, elves, knights, assorted clerics, visitors from other lands and perhaps an angel or even a Klingon. Cosplayers unite. Some Faires limit their scope to a fairly narrow slice of history while others may attempt to cram everything from the Crusades to the High Renaissance. They are held in 'castle keeps', others on an open field or in a wood. There are often jousts, feasts and a variety of entertainment on both stage and in the street. And of course there are lots and lots of merchants with wares ranging from jewelry and costuming to weapons, herbs, art and housewares.

If you've never been to a Faire, its hard to explain how great they are. Most people who go for the first time don't know what to look at first. We're not talking just wares, but the buildings, the people in costume...the whole other world you walk into when you walk through the gates. I myself tend to go twice. One in costume as a character, the other to shop and enjoy shows. Most Faires are weekend events, ranging from one or two days for the smallest to eight or nine weekend runs for the biggest. They can range from half a dozen actors to a costumed 'cast' of over 1,000 and from a handful of merchants and booths to more than a hundred of all kinds. Most Faires charge admission though some are are fund raisers for worthy causes while others are purely profit. If you have seen one Faire you have definitely NOT seen them all. They are a blast and I recommend going to at least one in your lifetime.


F O R   M O R E   I N F O R M A T I O N
Credit: Wikipedia.
I am not an expert on the history of the Faires, but if you would like more information, please visit Faire.net or Renfaire.com