The Nottingham Festival - Best Small Faire

Photography  by  Greg  Autry

Nov 30, 2015

The Nottingham Renaissance Festival is a small traditional `Renaissance Faire,’ held this year, for the third year, in Semi Valley, California. Held weekends during of the month of November, it is one of the best Faire’s I’ve been to in quite awhile.



 `Notti  Faire‘ is the nickname I have come up with. [Double entendre intended.]



A Los Angeles schoolteacher named Phyllis Patterson, in  1963,  started with small class activities and then with her husband Ron Patterson presented their first weekend  “Faire” as a fundraiser for a local radio station. The Patterson’s `Faire’ grew and became the Renaissance Pleasure Faire.



It was Patterson’s mandate that her Faire be educational, and fun. She and husband Ron, partnered with The Living History Center to recreate a ‘Spring Market Place’ with booths, historical games, and vendors. I always loved how everyone at the Faire stayed “in character”.   Over the years the Faire, was sold, Phyllis and Ron Patterson passed, and the Faire moved to other locations.



The phenomenon has grown to include many other Faire’s throughout California, and around the country.   Lest we not forget the early seventies were a time when the sixties generation was exploring life.  There was generally a sweet smell in the air and the after parties were legendary  [I speak from experience.]



As a side note, Kevin Patterson (Ron and Phyllis’ son) , is now Executive Director of Red Barn Productions, and the Patterson family  now produces the Dickens Faire, held every Christmas in San ]Francisco. [Now ongoing at the Cow Palace. I dare say the Patterson family has managed to keep alive the traditions and excellence started by his Mom and Dad.



The Nottingham Festival was started by `A group of dedicated volunteers from the community along with the Actor's Repertory Theater of Simi and the non-profit Simi Valley Cultural Association. They set out to make this new dream a reality. The Nottingham Festival recreates the magic and revelry of an Elizabethan faire and marketplace with street performers and stage acts that provide entertainment for all ages. Craft workers and reenactors from various guilds will entreat you to experience a taste of the handicrafts and lifestyle of the 16th Century.’



Several weeks ago a friend, Bev Meza, emailed me to tell me that she would be working a booth at the Nottingham Faire in Simi Valley. As it happened I would be in Southern California, to do an Art Appraisal of a collection of Julian Ritter paintings.  On Saturday the 14th, I met Rick Damigella, who walked with me when I arrived and told me that the Faire had started about three years ago, and that several people involved (volunteers) here at The Notti Faire, wanted this Faire to be more traditional, and to go back to the feeling and attitude of those good old Agoura days.



Simi Valley is about thirty miles North of downtown LA, in Ventura County.  I thought it ironic that this Faire was only about fifteen miles from where the original fair had been held, in Agoura.  I missed my friends since I moved from Southern California about seven months ago. And I was delighted to see some many of them here, it was like a homecoming.




The Nottingham Festival was a great deal “bigger” than I’d anticipated. If you like beautiful busty wenches bursting forth, and gallantly strapping men strutting about, you were sure to have a good time.



 Entertainment abounded, and it doesn’t cost anything extra. Set in a village market festival in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. Booths can be found selling arts and handicrafts representing the time as well as plenty of different types of food and drink. There was Fusion Belly Dancing by Seraphim Arabesque Ensemble, and the streets are lined with people dressed in period costumes, some portraying historical figures like William Shakespeare and Sir Francis Drake, even the Queen, herself.




Around some corners, stages can be found with live music, theater, and variety of entertainment, including jugglers, acrobats, and knife throwers. Part of the real fun of the Faire is dressing up in costume and becoming part of the show, and part of the whole experience.  Never fear, you can buy or rent costumes throughout the “Shire.” 




One delight of the weekend for me was to meet Josie Hirsch. I remembered Josie from Agoura when she used to ride her white horse through the Faire with her flowing blonde hair. Those were the really good old days and now they are Back.



Cost to get in was a very reasonable $ 15.00 and the City of Simi Valley graciously provided free parking for attendees. Proceeds from this non-profit festival will be granted to smaller non-profit agencies in the surrounding communities, as well as some set aside for the further development of the arts programs for youth.



The Nottingham Festival has already garnered awards for Best New Faire, and Best Small Faire, keep up the great work guys. I’ll be back. Let’s get our tickets for next year, here now .



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