by Jennifer Parsons
To simply observe the Renaissance Faire is impossible. Upon entering, one becomes part of the Elizabethan era, surrounded by employees and visitors dressed for the occasion.
Not only are people dressed in era wardrobe, but they have “merrie old England” accents where every woman is a “fair lady” or a “sweet wench,” and every man is a “good lord” or “kind sir.” The atmosphere is that of a Renaissance village with shops of all kinds, street-walking peasants selling trinkets and a jousting arena.
Fourteen-year-old Lady Tabatha, who has made flowered hats at the Faire for over a year, said, “Working here is like going back to the Renaissance times and feeling what it was like to live then.”
The 35th Renaissance Pleasure Faire is being held at the Glen Helen Regional Park in Devore, San Bernardino County through June 15, weekends and Memorial Day, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Regular admission is $17.50, with a student ID $15 and children are $7.50.
A typical day begins with the “Call o’ The Faire Revels” at the gates at 9:30 a.m. Lord Mayor, Sir Francis Drake, and other notables welcome visitors to the Shire. Throughout the day, plays can be seen all through the Faire at places such as the Willow Pond Stage, Maybower Theater, Mounteback Stage and the Mud Pit. Rat races, puppet shows and the giant Moon Swing are also available for general entertainment. Moonie the Magnificent, “juggler, ropewalker and foolish mortal,” performs a show four times daily and William Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” presented by a group of overeager peasants, is shown twice daily. Entertainment is something the Renaissance Faire does not lack.
Tug-of-war games are played between “peasant farmers” and visitors. Even crossing bridges, which mandate a kiss between a “fair lady” and “good lord,” through the village become a game to all.
Thrice daily, the knights in armor clash in combat with their horses in the jousting arena. The audience is split into sections to cheer for the knight of their color to win.
For children, there is Jester’s Grove, which consists of a maze, the Maypole carousel, a petting farm and pony rides.
Midway through the day, Queen Elizabeth is presented to the people. All of the villagers parade around ceremoniously beating drums, and near the end of the line, sits the queen atop her throne, carried by middle-class sirs.
Each Faire day, two 35-year-old audience members are crowned King and Queen of Romance in honor of the Faire’s 35th anniversary. The couple leads the noon masquerade parade, receiving royal treatment.
The people of the village, ranging from ages 7 to 60, never once leave their Elizabethan characters. Even when asked what their names are a serious reply such as “Lady Gueniviere” is given.
Said Lady Katherine, a peasant of the village, “I have been traveling with the Renaissance since I was oh so little. It was running in my family, eh. There were lots of crop were, aye, and I didn’t much care for it, so one day I up and left and joined the Faire.”
For those that do not wish to dress as an Elizabethan, the Faire is still a fun place for food, relaxation and entertainment. Renaissance-style food such as artichokes, corn on the cob and turkey legs are sold. Full body massages are also given by village peasants.
Visitor Marquis Hernandez, dressed in all black with chains around his body said, “The most unusual thing is when people come to the Faire and don’t dress up. You don’t get the full effect. That’s the whole fun.”
Lady Tiffany, a frequent visitor to the Faire for the last four years, said, “I like the fun and frivolity of it all. The flirting is a lot of fun.”