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Favourite Ren Faires

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Drai of the Rockies:

This past weekend I attended my very first ren festival with my wife - the Colorado Ren Festival, and we had an absolutely fabulous time!  I was actually quite astounded by the size of festival and the thousands of people that attended.  I stumbled onto this forum while looking up information on other ren faires around the country, since I imagine we will visit more in the future. 

It led me to an interesting question - what are your favourite faires, and more importantly, why?

I have no frame of reference since I've only been to one faire, and it seemed to be a large one (all fixed buildings on a dedicated site, which I don't think is always the case), but I'm curious as to your thoughts on some good ones.  Do you prefer large, more entainment-oriented faires, smaller, more historically authentical faires, or both? 

Browsing through the forum, it seems like most folks here are from the east coast, but I'd love to hear about any of your favourites! 

Sir Edward:

Welcome to the forum!

That's an excellent question. It's been about 5 years since I went to the CO renfaire. I thought it was a very nice faire. Very comparable to several of the east coast faires, I think, such as Sterling in NY, and the Pennsylvania faire. Both of those are similar in size and permanent structures, though the PA one is a little more artificial.

My favorite would have to be the Maryland faire currently, as it's one of the largest and most robust of the east coast faires (not to mention it's my closest one). It has a fantastic atmosphere, and about 2/3 of the site has tree-shade, which is a huge plus. The biggest problem I have with it though, is that they haven't allowed swords for a very long time. Most faires will allow them as part of your garb as long as they are "peace tied" so that they can not be drawn. But MDRF is owned by a family of lawyers who just don't want any liability risks, and there were a few isolated incidents of patron stupidity many years ago. However, they still have 4 or 5 sword vendors.

So far I haven't found any that I thought were a complete bust, except for New Jersey. That one may have grown by now, as the last time I went there was in 2000. But at the time it was extremely small, having only about a half-dozen vendors, and the small cast was split between a couple of stage shows and street acts (with quick costume changes), and some of the merchants were rude to us.

Sir Wolf:
ya definitely Md. although the old VA faire used to be my fav. it was jsut so... i dunno, better? newer or what it was but it just felt less commercial.

We used to hit the Maryland Faire every year (haven't been up in a few yrs). NCRF was like the kick off of ren-faire of the season for us.  4-5 years as cast members for VARF.  Carolina in Charlotte is a nice one we attend (probably be the only out-of-towner for us this year).  The small faire in Roanoke we are always at.

Sir Edward:

Yeah, we made it down to NCRF this year, after about 5 years or so since we last went. It's a nice way to kick off the year, that's true. It's small, but nice. NCRF uses the fairgrounds, so they don't have a permanent site of their own.

CRF in Charlotte, NC is definitely a nice faire, and they have mostly permanent structures. It reminds me a lot of the old VARF. Similar in size, though I think VARF had a better site (certainly more scenic if nothing else). It's sad that the new VARF wasn't able to pick up with the old site, but I think they're getting into their groove now, and it's hard to be regretful with success. It's still a small tent-city with only a few structures, but they're getting there.

Pittsburgh faire is another smallish one with a nice site. They had shut down at one point and re-opened under new management, I believe. I haven't been back since then, so my knowledge of it is from before the closing. It had a very natural feel to it, with a woodland sort of location (one of the things I love about MDRF).


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