Festival – USA

“The Renaissance Fair is this fair that’s put on every year usually out in the country. It’s just a big fair where people pretend that they are in the Medieval Era. Let’s see. All I usually do there is drink. But some people. You can sit and watch plays. And they have magicians and stuff like that. Bring people up on stage. They have blacksmiths where you can buy swords. Way, way overpriced. Everything there is overpriced. You can chop trees (Well, big logs that are already chopped.) with big huge axes. They have a strong man competition, and jousting, and arena sports, where there’s guys with a big spike ball and chains. People that go there are all dressed up like knights and kings and queens and squires. It’s fun. Mmm… there’s a bunch of different stages where people are singing old, old songs. There’s just a lot of games and shops and things like that. It’s funny. There’s food vendors where you can get popcorn chicken and fries, and others where they try to make it authentic with skewers roasting and stuff like that. Overall, you know, it’s just a lot of fun.”

The first time Benjamin heard about a Renaissance Fair was when he was 17, while still in high school. He remembers because he was working at a bagel shop, when a promoter for the fair entered dressed up like a knight. The promoter was selling discount packets for about ten dollars and he remembered thinking that the promoter was the craziest person for dressing up. He didn’t have any money then, so it was not until three years after that he finally went. When he was about 20, he drove with his girlfriend to San Bernardino to attend one. He said that his first experience was not as fun. He was kind of bored, because he said that one needs to have the money to spend to make going worthwhile.

Since then, Benjamin has gone to the Renaissance fair about five times. He said that each time is a different experience, especially since three out of the five times he went, he went when he was in the U.S. Navy. He said those times were a lot more money and times when he spent more than he should have.

Benjamin said that the Renaissance Fair travels around the country and arrives depending on the type of weather in the area. For example, in Chicago, they usually hold them in early Fall, because its too cold in the winter on and too hot in the summer. When they arrive, they send out promoters to advertise their presence to draw large crowds.  They stay for a couple of weeks to a month and are usually open all day. Benjamin advises people to go early and stay late in order to take advantage of the whole experience.

Benjamin cites that the reason behind the popularity of Renaissance Fair is because there are a lot of “dorks everywhere that wish they were knights.” He said that usually the people that go are the types that play a log of Dungeons and Dragons, who go to meet people who also wish they were born in that time. However, he forgets to mention that he has attended these fairs quite a few times himself. He may not fit these stereotypes, yet there is still something draws him back there time and time again. He said that it is a good way to experience somewhat the culture during the English Renaissance period, despite missing aspects of realism.

I think that there are more reasons behind having a Renaissance Fair than Benjamin thinks. Not only is it a fun way to spend a sunny afternoon, but it is also a way for people (mainly European descendents) to get in touch with their roots. The Renaissance Fair is a good example of Hans Moser’s “folklorismus,” or seemingly genuine folklore not placed in the right context. The Renaissance Fair tries its best to create a sense of realism, but also realizes that it must cater to modern constraints (Hence, the popcorn chicken being sold right next to the pork skewers.). Like tourist attractions, the Renaissance Fair is its own sort of folklore and caters more to the native people, which in this case would be those who have been far removed from their roots, than to people who are unrelated to the whole culture.