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Each year tens of thousands of people put on their proper medieval dress and join others at festivals all over the United States in Renaissance Fairs. Over the years such fairs have become very popular and usually feature a mix of Renaissance entertainment, old-fashioned and hand-made artistry and crafts, jousting, sword fighting, and many other activities that would take place in medieval times. These festivals take place usually just on the weekends, but they take place in different months, depending on the location. The following are only a sample of the Renaissance fairs that are available across the United States.
Arizona Renaissance Festival: Located in Apache Junction Arizona, this festival is open Saturday and Sunday in February and March. It features interactive entertainment on 12 stages, jousting, an artisan marketplace, and a pleasure feast that is served twice daily. There are also two weekdays available for teachers and students who wish to take opportunity for a field trip.
Carolina Renaissance Festival: This festival is held in in October and November in the town of Huntersville, North Carolina, but in the invented village of “Fairhaven.” Street performers roam the streets, jousters compete three times daily, and visitors can try their hand at traditional games of archery, axe-throwing, and even a gold coin hunt. The fair attracts an average of 160,000 people a year.
King Richard’s Faire: King Richard’s celebrates the 16th Century English marketplace at its finest festival time. It is held on 80 acres of wooded village in Carver, Maryland. At this celebration, which takes place on weekends in September and October, one can find food, entertainment, games, and even a zoo featuring lions, tigers, Chinese leopards, snow leopards, golden tigers, and ligers.
Sterling Renaissance Festival: Held near Fair Haven Beach State Park in New York, this festival runs on weekends in July and August. It features games and rides, arts and crafts, and 12 stages for Renaissance entertainment. Every weekend the Sterling Renaissance Festival Features a theme weekend such as Romance Rendezvous, Pirate Invasion, and Wine Lover’s Bacchanal.
Louisiana Renaissance Festival: This festival was voted in 2009 by the American Bus Association as one of the “Top 100 Events in North America.” Located in Hammond, Louisiana, this festival features the usual artisans, entertainers, and games. It also, though, offers parties for Bar Mitzvahs, Bridal Parties, Girls Day Out Parties, and Anniversaries, or just for no particular reason but to have fun in the spirit of the Renaissance.
Scarbourough Renaissance Festival: This festival, held in Waxahachie, Texas, boasts approximately 200,000 attendees yearly. It opens in Aprils and continues each weekend through Memorial Day. The festival is set in the year 1533, the reign of King Henry VIII. There are 21 stages featuring 200 performances throughout the season, and jousting takes place three times a day. Volunteers make up most of the “cast,” which features about 150 members.
Maryland Renaissance Festival: Located in Crownsville, Maryland, this festival is a recreation of the 16th Century English Village of Revel Grove. It is the second largest Renaissance Festival in the United States, and it spans 25 acres. It runs from August to October, on weekends and Labor Day. There are over 600 employees of the Maryland Renaissance Festival, and 1,300 people particate in the activities of the faire which include archery, jousting, artisans, sword swallowing, and music and dancing.
Texas Renaissance Festival: The Texas Renaissance Festival is the world’s largest Renaissance Fair. Nearly 400,000 people attend yearly in Plantersville, Texas, on weekends through October and November and on Thanksgiving Day. The grounds feature gardens such as The Roman Basillica, Titania’s Bower, and the Magic Garden. Crafts such as glass blowing, candlemaking, and metal forging are featured, as well as artisans with wares for sale. Entertainers fills the streets and the 16 stages.
Michigan Renaissance Festival: This festival is featured on 100 acres in Holly, Michigan, and takes place in August and September. It features an invented village named “Hollygrove,” and currently about 240,000 patrons visit each year, many costumed in midevieval garb.
Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire: August through October, one can visit Manheim, Pennsylvnia, and revel in the majesty of Renaissance musicians, artisans, and entertainers with over 90 shows daily. There are gardens through which one can leisurely wander, and games which one can play. The grounds also feature 21 royal kitchens in which to sample rich and sumptous midevial food.
Ohio Renaissance Festival: Located in Harveysburg, Ohio, this festival runs in September and October. A pirate stunt show is featured as well as flame throwing and jousters on 2000 pound warhorses. Musicians and dancers entertain on in 100 shows on 11 stages through the day.
Florida Renissance Festival: In Februrary and March guests visit the Florida Renaissance Festival in Deerfield, Florida. The festival features a human chess game and a falconer exhibition as well as a number of other entertainers and musicians throughout the day. Patrons can enjoy games of chance, archery, and test their strength. Artisans also offer their wares as guests watch them create.
Two Rivers Renaissance Fair: Featuring the famous duelists of Yuma, Arizonia, the festival takes place over a weekend in January. Other entertainers include dancers and musicians, and one can shop among the artisans and shopkeepers as well.
Camelot Days: Located in Hollywood, Florida, the kingdom in which Camelot Days is celebrated is full of musicians, artists, knights, and jesters. One can watch a living chess game or enjoy rides. Kids can also enjoy a knighting ceremony.
The Great Lakes Medieval Faire: During July and August patrons can visit Rock Creek, Ohio, on the banks of Lake Erie, to celebrate with King Arthur and Queen Guinevere as well as the Knights of the Round Table in the invented village of Avaloch. There is feasting; there are visiting dignitaries from other kingdoms who come to join the festivities; there are palace gardens to explore. Entertainment includes jousting, the satiric “cirque du soil” mud show, and the Mockingbird Theatre Company, among others.
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