Renaissance Pleasure Faire of Southern California

Renaissance Pleasure Faire of Southern California
Renaissance fairs, also known as Renaissance faires and Renaissance festivals, are very popular in the United States. Despite being set during the Elizabethan era in England, they are a phenomenon largely confined to the U.S. The country’s first Renaissance fair, the Renaissance Pleasure Faire of Southern California, was founded in 1963 and has been held each year ever since.

The Renaissance Pleasure Faire of Southern California was founded by Los Angeles school teacher Phyllis Patterson and her husband Ron in 1963. It was a one-weekend fundraiser for KPFK, a radio station based in North Hollywood. The event was a reenactment of a spring market of the Elizabethan era. It featured artisans, food merchants and actors in period clothes. They were required to stay in character while working. The fair drew around 8,000 attendees.

The fair was originally held in Agoura Hills, then moved to Devor, and most recently has been relocated to Irwindale. Today’s Renaissance Pleasure Faire is a reenactment of a 1580s market faire at Port Deptford, a waterfront town that once was an important part of the Elizabethan exploration. It generally opens on the first weekend in April and runs through the weekend before Memorial Day.

The team of the fair pays much attention to the authenticity of the actors’ costumes. All costumes are required to go through a rigorous approval process. Generally there are five types of costumes representing different social classes: yeomen, merchants, gentry, military and nobility. Actors also represent other cultures (the Scots, Spaniards, Germans, Italians, Arab cultures) and other groups (inventors, adventurers, mongers, Puritans). Patrons are encouraged to wear period clothing but they don’t have to.

What does the Renaissance Pleasure Faire of Southern California has to offer? Its program is rich and diverse. The fair features 13 stages offering quality entertainment all day long. There are activities, games and rides for attendees of all ages, artisans offering a variety of unique handmade items (from ceramics and sculpture to perfumes and soaps), food vendors, the Queen’s College workshops, pub crawl, quests, Tea with the Queen, and many more events and activities.

Like most other Renaissance festivals, the Renaissance Pleasure Faire hosts theme weekends and special events. For example, the 2017 edition featured Opening Weekend, Marketplace Bonus Ticket Weekend, Pirate Weekend, Military Appreciation and Scouts Weekend, Time Traveler Weekend, RennCon Weekend, and Closing Weekend with the traditional parade. There’s also the annual School Day for all grade levels that gives students a chance to learn more about the Elizabethan era through interactive activities.

Renaissance Pleasure Faire of Southern California

Photo: Renaissance Pleasure Faire




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