Starting A Renaissance Faire?

 

So you are interested in starting a Renaissance Faire but don’t know where to begin...  How many people have had the same thought?  Thousands!  Many of them have gotten together and been successful.  I counted over 300 Renfaires across America when I expanded my website.


The main reason I started this website was to help smaller faires get the word out about themselves so they could become successful.  I would love to see soft site, annual and semi-annual faires be able to find hard sites, make buildings, walls, fences and displays that don’t go away.  However, I love the fact that the smaller faires have a more family-oriented, non-commercialized feel to them.


How does one start a successful Renfaire?  While I don’t have all of the answers, some of them are: big sponsors, dedicated board members and volunteers, location, ADVERTISING, good entertainment and things for children to do all day.


Everyone’s idea of the kind of Renfaire they want is different.  For ideas, the final six people I have listed on my “Interviews” page on this site are with faire organizers.  Also, you could ask performers and vendors while you’re at a faire.  They can let you know the things that make for a successful event.  Another path would be to check out the various experiences and opinions in this discussion at www.renaissancefestival.com/forums/index.php/topic,23910.0.html 


* ADVERTISING TIP:  (I got this from Kittye Williams who runs the Grand Lake, OK Renaissance Festival.)  Make large magnets with your faire’s logo and vital information in a large, legible font.  Put them on your board members’, friends’ and relatives’ cars a few weeks before your event.  This will help spread the word in the towns around your site. *


* If you have a smaller faire, limiting the specific types of vendors (like weapons, clothes or leather) to just two each is a good idea.  You want them to be able to share the customers but not spread them too thin so that the vendors do not make much profit.  However, if there is just one vendor who sells a certain type of thing, they cannot raise their prices too high and run off the customers.


* One thing I can let you know.  Do not schedule a faire when the temperature could be over 90 degrees!  Heat kills attendance!  If the attendance goes away, the vendors go away.  If you lose both of these, goodbye faire.  The heat can be very dangerous to those in garb as well.  It is best to not risk anyone’s health just to have a faire.  Schedule it for a different time of year.


  1. *Most faires go on, rain or shine.  If you have to cancel a faire in advance due to expected extreme weather, make sure you reimburse your vendors their deposits for the days they will not be able to set up.  That will build trust and make them want to come back to your future faires.


* A recent phenomenon that has attracted attention to all types of outdoor events is severe weather striking while people are unsheltered outdoors.  If storms are possible during an event, at least two people on staff should be equipped with ways of receiving storm warnings from two sources (a phone app, a text message from a local media outlet or a National Weather Service alert radio).  While it impossible to shelter all of the people at a large faire, if buildings are nearby or on the faire's premises, they should be made available for people to use for cover.  Picnic shelters, tents and amphitheaters can be used for shelter from rain and small hail but that is all.  Lightning can strike people under these shelters and amphitheaters can focus high winds, making them more dangerous.  You can talk to your local fire department or emergency management office for suggestions on sheltering people.


If a faire is in the path of a severe storm, everyone inside the premises should be immediately notified.  They should be given the option to leave or be told where they can shelter in place.


Sometimes, storms can develop very quickly nearby.  Sometimes, local weather offices, media outlets or towns are late in issuing warnings.  These things are uncontrolable.  However, if nearby storm clouds turn green (indicating hail), if clouds turn black or you see power flashes (indicating high winds or tornadoes), faire personnel should quickly check local weather outlets for warnings.


To those of you wishing to get the ball rolling in your own backyard, Godspeed!  Please let me know the info about your event and I will post it to my site.


Check out the pics of this park in the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow.  It would be a great place for a Celtic, Renaissance or Scottish Festival!