I have been attending Renaissance Faires for over 20 years. From one weekend faires to multi weekend festivals, I’ve enjoyed being both vendor and attendee. It’s been such a big part of my life for so long that I simply assumed that everyone knows what a Renaissance Faire is all about. How wrong I was!
When planning and promoting the Maine Renaissance Faire, I was surprised how many times I would be asked, “What is a Renaissance Faire?” “What do you do there?” “Do I have to drees up?” And so many other questions that I thought I would put together a quick primer for those that are new to the Ren Faire world.
Ren Faires come in many sizes from small one weekend fairs on temporary sites to huge multi weekend events with a permanent location. The current Maine Renaissance Faire is a reboot of the Faire that originally started in 1998 in Lebanon Maine and closed down in 2004. 2020 will be our second year and we are starting on a temporary site with two weekends in July.
What to Expect
- Shops and stalls selling clothing, candles, soaps, jewelry, artwork, weapons, ceramics, leather goods, books, and much more!
- Food and drink: turkey legs, meat pies, giant pickles, mead, beer, and tons of regular food too.
- Wandering actors in character: feel free to talk to them and ask to take photos of them with your strange camera contraption.
- Live entertainment: comedy skits, acrobats, musicians, fortune tellers, games, archery, unicorn rides, Sword fighting, jugglers, magicians, stilt walkers, mud beggars and, of course, the Joust!
Don’t Feel Pressured to Dress Up (but know that you absolutely can)
Feel free to ease in to a Renaissance fair by dressing in your normal clothes. It's totally not necessary to dress up at all. Also know that you can if you want to, and that you don't have to go all out or be period-accurate. The most important thing is to be comfortable and dressed for the weather (which, since our faire runs in July, can be HOT).
Tip: There is a lot of walking involved so comfortable shoes are a must.
Prepare For the Weather
Ren fairs are, unsurprisingly, outdoors, and therefore come with rain and shine. Toss a brolly, sunscreen, a hat, and anything else to keep yourself and your family cool and dry.
Most of the vendors accept credit cards, but some don't, and therefore you'll need a little cash. Plus, many of the shows will ask for tips at the end of the act, so having a few dollars available goes a long way to helping artists make some cash for their work. Parking is free at the Maine Ren Faire, so you don’t have to worry about that. We will have some ATM’s on site but if you want to avoid the line, it’s best to come prepared.
Tip: Bring along a reusable shopping bag in case you end up buying some loot. It makes carrying things much easier. You can also purchase one with the MERF logo on it at our Souvenir tent by the main gate.
Take Your Time Getting Around and Buy Into It.
There's so much to see that I will often see new booths and shows even after all these years. Don’t get overwhelmed and take your time. You can find impromptu sword fights going on, actors engaging in period-accurate ceremonies, and Royalty passing by. A Renaissance Faire is street theatre at its best and you are part of the show.
Tip: Seriously, buy into the fun of it. You may be skeptical or are being dragged along by your geekier companion (guilty), but you'll have way more fun if you go in with an open mind and ready to have a little fun.