Saturday, October 26, 2013

Renaissance Festivals: not so historically accurate but fun! By Gia Volterra de Saulnier

The Renaissance era had Royalty, Maidens, Lords, Barons, Jesters, Bards, Knights in shining armor and the Plague – all of which you can find these days if you or your family go to a Renaissance Festival in the United States, but you will also find modern things such as Turkey Legs (from North America), bathrooms and credit card machines.

The reason that Renaissance Festivals are so popular these days (and the most popular ones are in Texas and Maryland) is that people from today’s modern world can experience a time from the past.  They love to see the Queen up close for tea, they can experience something out of the ordinary.  Even as magical as most Festivals seem to be, most folks want to also have a good time.

These days with the advance of modern technology, it allows Renaissance Festivals to be found around the United States with such ideas as buying tickets in advance or having an ATM machine.  However, most Renaissance Festivals do strive to be from the past which includes the Attire (made from today’s seamstresses but with accurate patterns but made with a machine) and some instruments that you may see at some of these events, however, most of those instruments are rather expensive.

Some Renaissance Festivals around the United States have Guilds and rules that you must adhere to if you are a vendor, performer and especially if you are a cast member.  These rules apply mostly to Faires that have Royalty.

Still, for smaller events such as the ones we produce here in Massachusetts as much as we strive to be historically accurate, we recognize that most folks want to have fun.  We have pirates and Knights in shining armor battling it out and we speak in Ye Olde English or with an older accent that we hope guests can see up close and personal to get a grasp on what it may have been like in those times.  We also want to maintain safety and see some patrons (audience that come to our events) and playtrons (folks that come to these events dressed up in Renaissance Attire that are not part of the event) to partake in our event. 

Most merchants at today’s Renaissance Festivals make their own items by hand or have learned a craft from the past.  Almost all of the merchants not only make one of a kind items that you cannot find in a mall or in a retail store but they seek folks to learn about what it is that they do or make to appreciate the craftsmanship that comes from two hands.  Young kids can see some of these merchants do demonstrating up close to see how it was done.  It does take money to make these one of a kind items that no one else can make.  Therefore, most merchants these days take credit cards or have electronic devices cleverly hidden so that folks can buy these items.

It is a delicate balance between hand crafted goods and well-seasoned performers along with an amazing talented cast (and behind the scenes crew) to pull off a great Renaissance Faire or Festival.  We as performers (and producers) of these smaller events, we endeavor to interact with the folks that come through the gate so they feel like they are going back in time.  This way they can escape the modern world of today and go back to a time that was full of love, laughter and creativity.


Author/Writer of “Journey to Jazzland” 
Marketing Co-Coordinator 
Abbadia Mare Festival 


Owner of Renaissance Performers and Merchants