The Junkie's FAQ
People ask me a lot of questions.
Most of them are reasonable, but some are a bit wierd.
And some are just too strange to talk about. Those usually come with
a long story attached and reading them causes me to choke on my coffee and
Oliver the RenCat
as he sleeps on top of the monitor ... there are
some really strange folke out there.
I do try to answer most of my email, but I'm not a very prompt person,
and I get a lot of email. So I thought, "why not write a FAQ"?
So here it is ... the (really) most frequently asked questions that you,
the renfaire hungry public, have either emailed me
or asked me in person since I first put up this site
way back in 1994.
And yes, I do keep email archives. It's only disk, and I've got a lot
The Questions ...
- What are the dates for [insert name of event]?
- I don't even know the exact dates for my home faire!
The SCRIBE maintains this information for all events in North America
that have at least a 2 day run (and bother to register with the SCRIBE;
and look for the event you are interested in.
If the event is listed as Closed, it means that faire no longer exists
except as fond (or not so fond) memories.
The complete listing for each event will have dates, ticket prices,
contact information, patron weapon policies, etc.
- What faires are near me?
- It never ceases to amaze me that most of the people who ask this
question never bother to tell me where they are.
Like I'm supposed to know that email@example.com is in Indiana while
firstname.lastname@example.org is in Texas.
Anyway, unless you happen to live in a handful of areas where I
actually know the geography, my answer is "Check the SCRIBE".
and look for events in your state or provence (the listings include
US and Canadian events).
- When will the faire be in my home town?
- First of all, this question is always based on a misconception.
Renaissance faires are not like a circus. They do not travel the country
as a touring show.
When you hear someone talk of the Renfaire Circuit, they are referring
to the Merchants, Performers and other folke who travel from event to event.
Think of a Renaissance faire as something comparable to a State Fair
or a seasonal amusement park and you will be closer to the mark.
Having cleared that up, the SCRIBE maintains a listing of all
Renaissance events in North America that run for at least 2 days.
and look for events near you.
Be sure to check the detailed listing for each event for dates,
ticket prices, and directions.
- I see lots of people dressed in period attire,
but recently I have discovered that not ALL these people work for the faire.
Can just anybody dress in period
attire and assume a period type personality?
- Most faires encourage patrons to come in costume (however, rumors that
patrons who come in costume don't have to pay admission or pay a reduced
admission are urban legend ... no truth at all).
Being in costume does change the faire experience:
a costume moves you from the observer side of the fence to the participant.
Before anyone deluges me with email, let me explain.
Putting on a costume, no matter how full of anachronisms, shows that you
want to participate in the faire experience rather than simply watch it
unfold around you.
But just wearing a costume does not make you a "participant" in the common
use of the term.
In faire lingo, a participant is someone who works the faire, generally as
cast, performer, merchant or support personnel.
The terms "playtron" and "participatron" have been coined to describe patrons
who come in costume and interact in varying degrees with cast and
If you are going to visit a faire in costume, you must be aware of and abide
by the faire's stated policy on patron costumes and weapons.
Some faires do not allow patrons to carry weapons (these are the "no carry" faires).
Some faires allow only certain types of weapons, for example, swords and knives
but no guns.
All faires that allow weapons require them to be peace tied.
Some faires also have costume policies.
These generally deal with the wearing of masks and making sure that certain
body parts are adequately covered.
Notice that I keep saying "some faires".
There is no one patron costume or weapon policy for all faires.
It is up to you, the patron, to find out what the policy is for the faire you
plan to attend and then abide by it or risk being turned away at the gate.
When you attend a faire in costume, you must remember that to the average patron
EVERYONE in costume is part of the faire.
What you do as a costumed patron reflects on the faire itself.
I am aware of instances where faire policy has changed or costumed patrons been
asked to leave because their actions were offensive to non-costumed patrons
to the point that complaints were made.
Patrons generally do not complain about other patrons, but if someone in costume
offends them, they will complain to the faire because they assume that anyone
wearing a costume works for the faire.
Yes, this view does hold the costumed patron to a slightly higher standard of
behavior than the non-costumed patron, but I think it is valid.
- Do you now my friend [insert name]?
They "do" Renaissance Faire (or SCA).
- I'm looking for [insert name of person].
Can you tell me how to contact them?
- I know a lot of people, but I don't know everyone.
If your friend is a merchant or performer at
Scarborough Faire or the Maryland Renaissance
Festival, there is a chance that I will know them,
or at least know who they are.
If your friend goes to the faire as a patron, unless they have
an outstanding costume that sets them apart from the
crowd, the chances are that I do not know them.
I have never been a member of the SCA, so it is highly
unlikely that I will know your friend.
To top it off, I am really, really bad with names.
I confuse "faire" names with "mundane" names all the
And I forget names, even the names of people that
I have known for years.
Got a picture? I'm good with faces.
Even if I do know the person you are looking for, I'm
not in the habit of giving out phone numbers, addresses
or email. If they have a web site,
and I happen to know of it, I will send you the URL.
But since most of those are also listed on
my links page,
try checking under "Personal Pages" first.
You can also post your query on the alt.fairs.renaissance newsgroup at
- I'm looking for [insert name of merchant or entertainer].
Where can I find them?
- Besides event information, the SCRIBE also maintains information
on Merchants, Performers and Entertainers.
This is strictly voluntary, and not all information is public.
and look for the name of the Business or the Entertainer.
Also, many Performers, Entertainers and Merchants have web sites. Check out
- I want to join the Renaissance Faire. Can you help me?
- This question is usually asked by someone who has been to a Renaissance Faire
and fallen in love with the idea.
There is nothing wrong with this, but please be aware that you will
be competing with professionals for merchant, entertainer and cast openings.
You may not be able to jump right into an RPF, Maryland or TRF.
You may need to start with a smaller faire and work your way up to the big time.
Also, if you are considering joining the Renfaire Circuit, work your local
faire first to make sure this is really what you want to do.
The romance gets lost when the realities of primitive camping, rain-soaked tents,
mud, mud, mud, and privies are encountered.
If you want to be a Merchant at a faire, you will need to contact the
Merchant Coordinator for that event. Be prepared to submit your product to
be juried in; many of the larger faires won't let you sell anything that has not be
approved in advance. Some won't even let you display product that has not
been juried in.
You should also be prepared to either rent or buy booth space.
Booth space at some faires is at a premium; you have to wait for someone to leave
before you can come in.
If you want to be an Entertainer or Cast, you will need to audition.
Local auditions are usually announced several months in advance of opening day
(there has to be plenty of time for rehearsals).
You can also send your resume and an audition tape to the Entertainment Director.
At many faires the Performing Company are not paid; you might even be responsible
for your own costume.
Some faires book Entertainers a year in advance, so get working on those
Crew is perhaps the easiest.
Merchants are always looking for boothies (sales persons and hawkers) and there
are always openings for gamers, food service and grounds crew.
Check the want ads in your local paper; ads usually appear several weeks before
Yes, you will be working hard and you won't get a lot of play time.
But you will be part of the experience.
And everyone has to start somewhere.
Details will be different for each faire, so you need to contact the faire.
And, as I have mentioned before, you can find contact information for any listed
event on the SCRIBE web site at
- I want to get married at [insert name of event].
How do I do this?
- Contact the faire. Many faires have wedding packages, but you
have to make the arrangements in advance.
This is not information that the SCRIBE keeps (at the moment, that is), but
you can find contact information, including web sites, for all of the events
that are registered. Go to
and start looking.
- I'm looking for someone to make my wedding dress.
Can you recommend someone?
- If you are in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, contact MaritaBeth
at A Wardrobe in Time. You can find her web site at
If you are elsewhere, try to find a local costumer.
You are going to need fittings, and that is so much easier to do
if you and the costumer are within driving distance.
- Where can I find a pattern for a Renaissance costume?
- It depends. How authentic do you want your costume to be?
If you want something that can be made quickly and easily, both
McCalls and Simplicity have "renaissance" and "medieval" costume
patterns. Of course, these patterns use anachronisms like zippers
and elastic. For more authentic patterns, look for any of the
following at your local Renaissance bookstore.
You can find these patterns at various Renaissance bookstores or
I know that
Merlyn Custom Costuming
carries Period Patterns, Folkwear Patterns and Costume Connection Patterns.
Green Duck Designs
carries Alter Years, Atira, Eagle View, Fantasy, Folkwear, MoiRandall's, and Queta.
- Alter Years
(authorized for Renaissance Pleasure Faire ® of California)
- Atira Fashions
- Costume Connection Patterns
- Eagle View
- Fantasy Fashions
- Folkwear Patterns
- Period Patterns
- I want to start a Renaissance Faire. What do I need to do?
- I've never started a Renaissance Faire, nor do I have any
desire to do so.
But I imagine it's like any startup business, you need a lot of money.
Which, unless you are independently wealthy and have lots of excess
cash just sitting around doing nothing, means investors.
And investors always want to see the business plan.
Yadda yadda yadda.
That's the best that I can do with this one.
- I'm starting a Renaissance Faire.
Can you give me a list of Merchants and/or Entertainers?
- I get this one a lot in my guise as Ringmaster for
The League of Renaissance Merchants.
Merchants and Entertainers who are already on the circuit
generally know where they are going to be a year or more in advance.
And since this is a new faire, with no proven gate, they are not
exactly going to be beating your door down to join.
You can find a lot of Merchants and Entertainers in your own backyard
by simply advertising in the local papers.
Remember to be specific about what you are looking for.
If you want to attract well-known merchants or "name" acts, you
probably should contact them directly.
You can also ask the people on
They will be glad to tell you their favorite Merchants and Entertainers.
- Where did you get ...?
- And how much did it cost?
- My bodice dagger -
My court dress -
A Wardrobe In Time
My little knives -
Years ago. They don't have them anymore.
My boots -
Catskill Mountain Moccasins
My chain mail -
My amber necklace -
American Museum of Natural History,
made the setting.
My SaferSwords -
My tights -
My fancy shirts with all the lace -
My leather pouch with the fancy metalwork -
My leine and castle dress - Wolfstone Kilt (Maryland)
My puffed shoes - Slashed Shoe (Scarborough)
My tatoo - Trilogy Tatoo (Dallas, Texas, USA)
That interesting bruise ... - I'm not telling!
And if you have to ask how much it cost ...
Seriously, most of the items that people ask about are custom pieces.
So any price that I might quote is either out of date, doesn't apply
to "off the rack", or is way more than you want to spend.
- My school is having a Renaissance Faire ...
- I'm writing a paper for school ...
- What did people wear in the Middle Ages?
- What did people eat in the Middle Ages?
- What was life like in the Middle Ages?
- What games did people play in the Middle Ages?
- I always seem to get these questions at the beginning of the
school year. And always about the Middle Ages, never the Renaissance.
Even when they tell me about the Renaissance faire their school is
having, the time period is always the Middle Ages and it's always
the English Middle Ages.
I have two standard response for this type of question.
If the person asking the question is a teacher or parent, and is looking for
assistance in putting together an event, I usually tell them to contact
their local SCA and ask for help.
Most SCAdians (at least the ones I've met) are very willing to
help with this kind of thing.
is a good place to start.
If the person is trying to get me to do their research for them,
I generally tell them to go to the nearest public library (or
university library) and (gasp!) read a book or two.
If I'm in a good mood, I might even recommend some books.
- Aston, Margaret (ed). The Panorama of the Renaissance
- Gravett, Christopher. The Knight's Handbook (for children)
- Harpur, James. Revelations, The Medieval World
- Haynes, Alan. Sex in Elizabethan England
- Huizinga, Johan. The Autumn of the Middle Ages
- Jardine, Lisa. Worldly Goods
- Jardine, Lisa. Ingenious Pursuits
- Paston-Williams, Sara. The Art of Dining, A History of Cooking and Eating
- Rosenthal, Joel T. (ed). Medieval Women and the Sources of Medieval History
- Salgado, Gamini. The Elizabethan Underworld
- Watkins, Susan. The Public and Private Worlds of Elizabeth I
- Weiditz, Christoph. Authentic Everyday Dress of the Renaissance
No, I'm not going to share those questions with you.
What I do with whips, chains and pirates is between me and the pirates.
Now if you ask me about jousters ...
There are distinct advantages to being a computer geek and being self-hosted.
(How do you know
when you've reached computer nerd-dom? When the number of computers,
working or non-working, in your home exceeds the number of significant
others you have ever been involved with. I'm not there yet, I'm only
a geek, but I will say that each of my cats has his or her own monitor
to sleep on and I do have a LAN in the house.)
You can save every email you've ever received.
And you can put up new pages whenever you feel like it and not
worry about any pesky space limits on your account.
Again, that's between me and the pirates.
I believe in books. And I believe that a person will learn more
and retain what they learn, if they investigate it for themselves
rather than simply relying on other people to do the work.
I was raised to value education without shortcuts.
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Last updated Monday, 02-Jan-2006 23:37:42 CST