renfaire

Begun in 1963, the Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire celebrates its 50th anniversary every weekend from April 7 - May 20 at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale. To learn more, visit renfair.com.

It's hard to believe that the Renaissance Pleasure Faire -- a six-week bacchanal of medieval-inspired merriment -- is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month. Harder still to imagine is that this year's installment, dubbed the 50th Golden Jubilee, will feature the first Lady in Arms in the Faire's glorious history.

What say ye? Ladies in Arms -- armor clad maidens riding into battle -- never existed back in the good old days of 16th century England?

Well, neither did orcs or dragons, but that's never stopped the Renaissance Pleasure Faire from incorporating both into their performances. Part of the charm of this wonderfully offbeat gathering is that it has always been inspired, but never encumbered by history.

Started by schoolteacher Phyllis Patterson for local children in the backyard of her Laurel Canyon home, the Faire now boasts an international array of over 2,000 trained performers on 12 stages and has entertained some seven million guests throughout the years.

Adrenaline-fueled spectacles like the jousting tournament, where skilled competitors get kitted up in traditional suits of armor and battle it out on horseback, remain top draws, but it's the interactive aspect of the Faire that truly makes it a fun, immersive experience for the whole family. Wandering through the streets, guests can interact with performers ranging from surly old sea dogs to pompous socialites, or join Queen Elizabeth I for afternoon tea (replete with scones, natch) in her court each weekend afternoon (make reservations here). There's even a choose-your-own adventure style game called RenQuest in which performers test a player's historical knowledge and imagination, and kids can train and march with the Queen's military.

There's plenty of adult fun, too.  A fleet of L.A.'s finest food trucks will be on hand, serving everything from bangers and brats to sorbet and espresso (for the more regal among you), a five pub wine-tasting tour goes down on the weekend of May 12 and 13 and musical performances include everything from minstrels to a heavy mahogany band--yes, these characters truly come out of the woodwork.

The 50th Golden Jubilee takes place in the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale and kicks off April 7, 2012. It will run on Saturdays and Sundays only during the next six weekends. Discount tickets are available at Walgreen's (just don't forget to bring your pouch of gold). For more information, visit RenFair.com.



 

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