Renaissance Pleasure Faire: A Taste of History

 

Ren Fair: Parade

You never would have known that May 22, 2011 was the last day for this year's edition of the Renaissance Pleasure  Faire and Artisans Market  as people, despite the overcast skies, crowded the grounds.  Lasting seven weekends from April 9-May 22, 2011, the fair had been held at the Santa Fe Dam recreation area in Irwindale.  Built to recreate a 16th century English sea port town's faire and marketplace, the Ren Fair covers 20 acres of shady glades and lake side meadows. 

 

Ren Fair: Spinner Wm Lockienelle

Music filled the air as we wandered among approximately fifteen hundred costumed performers and town's folk as they brought to life the parades, pageants and entertainment of this Elizabethan village. 

Our first stop was at the Guild of St. Ives. History is more than just names and dates, as many of us were taught in school.  It's real people and real lives.

 

Ren Fair: Baroness DuShane, Don Diego Delos Angeles, and Sir Q Stuart

 Headed mistress Donna Flood, the guild represented the every day middle class of the period.  They had weavers, spinners, ship and map makers, limnaers (who illuminate manuscripts), as well as children playing in the yard. 

 

Ren Fair: Kammi Mannchester and Yvette DePain of Hatmando Clothing

The Guild not only performs,  but holds classes for those wishing to learn the ancient arts.   They meet all over California.  For more information on them go to http://saintives.com

 

To get into the spirit of the fair, many people, who don't have their own costumes, will rent from Belrose Costume. This costs 30-40/day.  Here wheelchairs and strollers can also be rented.  Costumes can also be purchased from many of the shops lining the fair grounds.  There you can buy Elizabethan blouses, dresses, capes, hats and many other goodies. 

 

Ren Fair: Belly Dancer, Meryl Jenfew

Other things for sale included incense, perfumes, love knots, hand made soaps, woolen cords, leather goods, knives, swords, and other accessories of the time period.

 

Ren Fair: Belly Dancers Jill Ethan and Meryl Jenfew

There were the usual fair events like Knife Throw, Dunk the Knave,  Jousting and Cannon balls. 

The food court held many Elizabethan treats as Turkey legs, Scones, Fish and Chips, as well as steamed artichokes, corn on the cob and other gourmet  delights as chocolate dipped cheesecake.   Wine, beer and sodas were prevalent.  Because there are only outdoor privies and no chance to wash, you might want to bring some hand sanitizer with you.

 

Ren Fair: Jousting

It was also possible to have four o'clock tea with the Queen at St. Cuthbert's. For $21 you received not only tea but little sandwiches, scones, tarts  and a number of English delicacies. 

 

Ren Fair: Seraphim Mora Dance Troupe

Entertainment was plenty there.  My first stop was to watch the new dance group, Seraphim Mora.  Mark Bissell, the director, said that while most of the musicians are dressed in Turkish costumes, the players were doing both Egyptian and Middle Eastern dances. 

 

Ren Fair: Lutist Owain Phyfe

Several of the belly dancers, Jill Ethan and Meryl Jenfew, later performed with lute player Owain Phyte of the New Renaissance Band as he joked and  entertained us with English, Spanish and Russian ballads popular at that time.

 

The Queen's College was another hands on workshop where kids and adults could learn basket weaving, candle making, belly dancing, chain mail and numerous other skills.   Sponsored by the Nor Cal Renaissance Institute for Renewal of Past Arts and the Artist, this non profit organization can be reached at www,reninstitute.org.

 

Ren Fair: The Magnificent Humble Boys

Also new this season were the Magnificent Humble Boys - Shelby and Vinnie.  Their acrobatic improv humor was funny if a bit raunchy, but typical for the time period.   

 

A separate kids section was available, too, for children to play at jousting, improv and other skills and there was even a baby sitting service present.   

 

There were so much to see and so many entertainers that I didn't get to, I would have needed several days of attendance to catch them all. 

 

For $40 you can become a Friend of Fayre and have separate privies, treats as well as other membership goodies. 

 

General entrnace was $10 for parking and $25 for admission with discounts for senior, student, and military. Children  under 12 paid $15. 

Come next year for the 50th anniversary. It promises to be even greater.   For more information go to www.renfair.com

 



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