The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire 2016
"Begun in 1963 in Agoura, near Malibu, to create “living history” for school children and their families, the Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire has grown into an annual interactive playground and gallery for over 200,000 participants and guests. It has given birth to an industry nationwide and this year is more fun and exciting than ever.
Since its inception, more than 5 million people from around the world have visited Southern California’s Renaissance Pleasure Faire, averaging approximately 20,000 each weekend."
While I have had a love of history since childhood, several years ago Pleasure Faire helped me rediscover and reaffirm that love; eventually it led me to historical re-enactment year round through the Society for Creative Anachronism.
While living medieval-style is a significant part of my life all year, the 2 months that Pleasure Faire operates is something entirely unique and special. I love the over the top theatrics of the performers, musicians, costumers and even the bartenders and vendors. I love seeing children and the uninitiated falling in love with medieval re-enactment for the first time. I love the combination of history and fantasy, and while not as immersive as an SCA event, I love how many opportunities it provides for individual self-expression. I love seeing my Facebook feed explode with photos of friends from many different geeky subcultures – cosplayers, SCA members, models and photographers, professional and hobbyist artisans, dancers, musicians, comedians, video game developers, artists, goths, metalheads and industrial fans – all coming together against the same unifying backdrop of the Faire.
Opening day this year was incredibly wet – it rained like crazy throughout several parts of the day. The weather at the Faire is generally on the hot side, so this was a new and surprisingly enjoyable experience. Only the hardcore Ren enthusiasts were out, and the inclement weather drove patrons to find shelter together where they could. I ended up chatting with tons of strangers as we hid from the rain and drank our ciders, then splashed around and flirted and laughed and played as it calmed down. I ran into friends all day long and each and every person I encountered had infectious joy, so excited for this temporary reprieve from the real world.
While Pleasure Faire has many of the same performers in their stable every year, they never fail to be anything but delightful. No matter how many times I have seen Moonie, Broon, Dread Crew, Merry Wives of Windsor, or VaNa MaZi (to name a few), I never get tired of them and they always manage to bring something new to each performance. I’ve never seen any performer give less than 100% no matter when in the season I attend, although opening day does to tend to have a little bit of something extra special.
Faire offers everything from incredible food (frozen cheesecake on a stick! Meat pies! Turkey legs!), gorgeous wares (leather! Drinking steins! Face painting!), a variety of family friendly games and activities (turtle races! Archery and axe throwing!), nonstop entertainment (musicians! Dancers! Jousting! Magic! Comedy!) and enough alcohol to make you forget you’re not really in the Middle Ages (mead! Cider! Beer! Different drinks at every pub, and a pub crawl to boot – although I got to witness that there DOES come a point when the bartenders know you’ve maybe enjoyed enough of their elixirs). Each weekend has a different theme such as Time Travelers, Celtic, Steampunk or Pirates, so it's a fun excuse to wear lots of costumes from your wardrobe.
All in all this was some of the most fun I’ve ever had at Faire and I absolutely can’t wait to go back. Tickets are available at a discount online or from many local establishments, although you’ll want to bring enough cash to keep you fed, watered, and to bring yourself home a little souvenir or three. Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers and organizers who help keep this event running every year – my parents loved it when they were my age (my husband was very nearly born there), and I know that I can look forward to someday my children and my children’s children loving it, too.
Geek Girl Mistress Zelda
The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire
Photographer: Clarence Alford Photography
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April 25 2016