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Renaissance Faire Celebrates 50th Anniversary

Written By: Abel S. - "Honest Abe"

04/15/2012

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Once again, it is time for a Renaissance Faire!

It’s that time of year when the weather gets a little warmer, my wallet gets a little thinner and I get a little fatter. Once again, my annual visit to the Renaissance Faire has arrived. Beginning April 7th, and continuing until May 20th, the Renaissance Faire is back in town! Huzzah!

This year is extra special as it marks the 50th anniversary of this beloved event. I was there on opening day to listen to all the proclamations by the town crier as he thanked, well, pretty much every elected official in LA County for their continued support of the Faire. There was a large crowd gathered to be first to enter the gates. Once inside, we were off to the races.

From reading the Ren Faire website, I knew that a few adjustments to the layout had been made so we picked up a map at the entrance and quickly tried to adjust to the changes from previous years. I really liked the new layout because instead of following a restricted path (like being stuck inside an IKEA) there was a definite sense of more freedom for wandering around. Of course, this did lead to some backtracking but that was mainly because a few vendor booths were no longer in their usual locations that we had become accustomed to over the years; a few other vendors were no longer participating. One new booth of note is the official Renaissance Faire museum. I didn’t get a chance to check it out but my understanding is that it’s really interesting to see the history of the Faire. I plan on returning in a few weeks so I’ll be sure to check it out then.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. The Renaissance Faire is unlike any standard carnival you may attend. Where else can you scarf down Bangers and Mash while you watch people throw axes and ninja stars at targets? Where else can you walk around in shorts and t-shirt, holding a beer, as the Queen of England is paraded by? Where else will you witness the antics firsthand of the funniest Russian pseudo circus performers outside of Russia?

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There is so much to see and do. Aside from the great food, there are many different types of shows to see. Most of them are quite hilarious. There is everything from the aforementioned Russian circus performers to salty pirates and even belly dancers. I instantly became a fan of The Magnificent Humble Boys [Link]. If you’ve ever been curious about the Russian circus….well…all I can say is that the show is quite hilarious as these most humble boys perform antics straight from mother Russia but with a twist.

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Also, Faire favorites The Dread Crew of Oddwood [Link] return along with their newly released third album, Heavy Mahogany. For an adults only show, catch their performances on the Rogue’s Reef stage. (Check the various stage schedules for times for all shows.) For the kids, there are plenty of shows and activities to keep them entertained such as the Gnome Quest, Merlin’s School of Magic and the Foolish Fractured Fairy Tales. There are also games for children of all ages. I’d personally recommend the giant maze and the archery.

There are two booths, one near the entrance, where you can purchase your standard souvenirs such as Renaissance Faire t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc. If you want something truly unique, spend some time perusing the arts and crafts. If you really want to get into the mood, there are costumes rentals available. Or you can even go so far as to purchase your very own authentic Renaissance outfit. Vendors such as Tickle Thy Fantasy or Pendragon will have you outfitted in no time. The variety of clothing available will fill your head with costuming possibilities. The clothing is beautiful but keep in mind that you are buying handmade and often unique items so expect to pay more than you would at a costume shop. There are other vendors selling goods to complement your outfit such as leather belts and satchels. Maybe you need a tail, after all, who doesn’t. (When you find the ‘tail’ booth, ask what it means to wear one.) Okay, you’ve got an outfit but surely you must be thirsty by now. How about a genuine pewter goblet or stein? Perhaps a wooden cup or a drinking horn. You’ll find those here as well.

Finally, I’d like to give you a few tips on what to bring to make sure you fully enjoy your day at the faire.

1) Cash. Many of the vendors do take credit cards (otherwise known as Master Card and Lady Visa) but all of the food vendors are cash only. There are a few ATM’s available but who wants to pay the service fee? Tipping isn’t required but it is enthusiastically welcomed (very enthusiastically, trust me on this)

2) Sunscreen. Slather it on in the parking lot, even if it’s overcast. You’ll thank me later. I’ve seen many a nasty sunburn already developing by day’s end on the ill prepared.

3) Comfortable clothing and shoes. Loose clothing would be good. Shorts and t-shirts. Ladies, this is definitely not the place for heels of any kind. The ground is paved in only a few spots. For the most part, you’ll be walking on grass or dirt and rocks (or both). I’d suggest an older pair of sneakers that you won’t mind if they get dirty. A lot of dust may get kicked up from time to time so sunglasses or a hat would be a good idea as well.

4) A hearty appetite. The aromas in the food court will overwhelm you. Hand cut French fries. Turkey legs. Beef ribs. Stuffed potatoes. Toad in a hole (not a real frog, relax!)Bangers and mash. Chocolate covered cheesecake on a stick. Jumbo cookies. The list goes on and on. Not to mention the many beer and ale stands. Don’t worry; there are drinks for the kids available.

5) A positive attitude. Remember that you’ll be outside and it may be a hot day. You might trip (as I often do.) If it’s your first time, you’ll definitely not know your way around so definitely make sure you pick up the free map available at the entrance, as well as the program guide.

6) A Camera. As you can imagine there are many great photo opportunities at the event. Don't miss your chance to get the shot of a lifetime!

Keep all this in mind and by day’s end you’ll be dead tired, well fed, and ready for bed. HUZZAH!

http://www.renfair.com/socal/

About the Author: Abel Pinedo has worked in the entertainment industry for over a decade. He's also an annual visitor to such conventions as Comikaze, San Diego Comic Con, Wizard World and More. When he's not touring the convention circuit he can usually be found at his keyboard telling the World about his adventures.