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The Renaissance Faire Junkie

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 scare Oliver the RenCat as he sleeps on top of the monitor ... there are some really strange folke out there. 1

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 of that. 2

And now 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; most do). Go to www.faire.net/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 joe@foobar.com is in Indiana while sally@somedomain.com 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". Go to www.faire.net/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. Go to www.faire.net/SCRIBE 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 non-costume patrons.
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 time. 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 www.dejanews.com/usenet.

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. Go to www.faire.net/SCRIBE 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 auditions now!
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 opening day. 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 www.faire.net/SCRIBE.

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 www.faire.net/SCRIBE 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 www.awardrobeintime.com. 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 costumers. 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.

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 alt.fairs.renaissance for suggestions. 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 - Starfire Swords
My court dress - Pendragon Costumes and A Wardrobe In Time
My little knives - Angel Sword. Years ago. They don't have them anymore.
My boots - Catskill Mountain Moccasins
My chain mail - Kate Cox
My amber necklace - American Museum of Natural History, and Kate Cox made the setting.
My SaferSwords - SaferSwords (duh!)
My tights - Faire Pair
My fancy shirts with all the lace - Lady Dra
My leather pouch with the fancy metalwork - Highland Anvil
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! 3
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. www.sca.org 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. 4 If I'm in a good mood, I might even recommend some books.




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Last updated Monday, 02-Jan-2006 23:37:42 CST