SCA & RenFaire Dopers?

We go to the Minnesota Rennaissance Festival at least twice a year. This is the first year that we’ve gone in garb, though (Thanks, GWB!) It’s not exactly period–my daughter’s dress is really cute, but it’s purple. Oops. We use drawstring “dice bags” (usually used for D&D dice) tied to belts for pockets. We’ve talked about trying to go to Bristol in Wisconsin–maybe next year.

My husband was in the University of Minnesota fencing club, so we know quite a few people who work there (well, volunteer, really–they don’t get paid), most at the Balloon Fencing booth. Now that we’ve actually got some garb, my husband was considering volunteering there himself, but it seems that there is a lot of…well…interpersonal politics and strange new rules and stuff going on out there these days. The idea doesn’t seem like as much fun as it used to.

Along with Balloon Fencing, we like to watch the juggling (especially the Dew Drop Jugglers) and the demonstrations. Mr. Tamex likes to play with swords in the shops. Our kid likes to see all the animals and ride the elephants. I like to shop a little bit, but I rarely buy anything.

OK, here’s a question I’ve been wanting to ask. Among the strange new rules that I alluded to above is that the people working at Fest are no longer allowed to say “wench” because it is an insult today. The people hawking the fencing booth are no longer allowed to say such things as “It’s the only legal place to hit your sister!” or “Marital counseling here!” The workers are also no longer allowed to touch the patrons. Do you guys agree or disagree that such rules are necessary today? Frankly, one of the charms of a Renaissance festival to me is the chance to go back to a time when people were less concerned about interpersonal space and more vocal and less politically correct. Lately, the MN Ren Fest is seeming more and more like a 21st-century festival in funny costumes. Are other fests (faires) becoming like this? Is it necessary?

Tamex, when I went to the Northern Faire in California 15 years ago, very few merchants were allowed to display or sell things which were demonstrably non-period. The exceptions were the drinks sellers and the tobacco booths, figuring they’d lose a LOT of customers if they didn’t sell those things. People who wanted to display welded copper art or plastic kites on sticks or styrofoam flying dragons were most definitely not welcome.

At the MN faire, I think if they kept out people who weren’t displaying Renaissance wares they’d have to close down half to three-quarters of the booths, and the ones they kept open would be about half-empty anyway.

You’re absolutely right: Minnesota Faire is becoming a 21st century faire with a Renaissance flavor to it.

I’ve been to one RenFaire in my life, but would like to go.

After the kilt thread, I researched the costume I’d wear. It’d be of a Spanish Jewess. They wore a mantle of wool over their regular clothes and a red badge(!) indicating their religion. These trappings were a result of legislation by the king. If these rules were not followed, the person faced punishment.

Just thought it’d be something other than tavern wench.


What’s wrong with a tavern wench? Something good to look at, and useful to boot!


Now taking siggestions.

No, no, apparently they’re not supposed to touch the patrons! They certainly shouldn’t be booting them!

I was just refering to them serving me bee… oh, nevermind.

shoves hands in pockets
Walks off, kicking a small stone in front of him

I’m not comely enough to be a tavern wench. Sad but true.


I love Ren Faires and started going to Scarborough Faire in Waxahatchie, TX while I was in college. A couple of years ago, I finally put together my own wench costume.

I’ve got a lot of friends who are into SCA and Ampguard. Both interest me, but I’ve heard a few too many stories of personality conflicts and politics to be really enthusiastic about things. I want to have fun. I don’t want be watching for landmines everywhere I go.

Now that I’m out in BFE, I’m planning on making several trips back to the coast just for local Ren Faires.

SCA fighting:

I never got to fight heavy for tourney… the last Crown Lyst I attended was pretty sweet… with the last two fighters headshotting one another simultaneously not once, but twice in a a row…

On PC’ness at RenFests:

I think it depends entirely on the fest. FLARF was fairly family-oriented, but there never seemed to be too much PC’ness butting in… C’mon, one of the acts was the Naughty Bawdy Wenches.

Hawkwood, in the DFW-TX area, is more a fantasy fest, so they have a bit more license to play with history and legend than most renn fests allow for. Scarborough is pretty fun, but it tends to be much more open, space-wise, than Hawk, which has lots of cover and their stands are there year-round.


Help…what’s LARP? And FLARF? Purple is bad?

Criminy, I thought I had a clue about this stuff. Seems I need me an eddikayshun!

Man, I love all of that stuff.

I go regularly to the Maryland Renaissance Fair, in costume as befits (Early Italian Renaissance). Been going since I was about 15.

I also do some stuff with the SCA (The Pennsic Wars, Pointless Wars, etc.), but I am not technically SCA. I’m a Tuchuk, one of the Evil Barbarian Horde who were Driven Off the Hill Lo, Those Many Years Ago. (Quite a tale, but not worth going into here.)

Tuchux are actually a group based on the “Gor” novels by John Norman. We reenact a fantasy Barbarian lifestyle, with its own set of rules and traditions. We sort of co-exist with the SCAdians and kick their butts as needed on the field of battle. :smiley:

Anyhow, it’s all great fun and excellent partying. I’ve made some really terrific friends doing this. It’s great to go and blow off some steam running wild in a doeskin bikini and chainmail halter-bra!

Every fall I go to the Kansas City Renaissance Festival. I absolutely love it! I’ve never had a bad time there. I especially love going on cloudy, misty, slightly chilly days.

Wait a minute, does anyone know if the RenFest is the same thing as the RenFaire? I assumed it is, but I’ve never heard of the performers mentioned so far and nobody has mentioned Axel the Sot or the Fikklebitches.

I’ve gone to the Ren Faire in Novato, CA a few times, but now the landowners want to build a golf course or some crap so the faire is held in Vacaville. It’s way too hot and sunny out there, especially when dressed as a highlander and carrying a claymore around on your back. As for SCA, I do have an interest in donning armour and delivering the king’s justice unto the unrighteous, but I can’t afford it right now.

Ah, the cry of the SCAdian newbie. :slight_smile:

LARP = Live Action Role Playing. Various genres (notably Vampire: The Masquerade) where people enact a role-playing game in real time. Often done at sci-fi cons.

FLARF = Florida Ren Faire, I believe.

And yes, purple is generally not a great idea, as it is traditionally a color worn only by royalty. I don’t know how Ren Faires handle it, but in the SCA, you won’t get kicked out, but it’s generally frowned upon, particularly if it’s nicer garb. Same goes with white belts (reserved for knights), yellow and green belts (apprentices), laurel wreaths (Order of the Laurel, our highest Arts & Sciences award), and various other things that directly relate to awards and such. But, hey, if you make an error, most people will point it out to you; authenticity Nazis will beat it out of you. :slight_smile:


I think the difference is simply regional–some are called Ren Fests, and some are called Ren Faires. I noticed that all the festivals owned by Mid-America Festivals, including the MN and KC Renaissance Festivals, are called “Renaissance Festivals” (shortened to Ren Fest, of course), but there are others that call themselves “festivals”, too, so they seem to have no trademark on the name. For whatever reason, “faire” seems to be more common, though, especially when talking about such things on the Internet.

I wouldn’t be surprised if not too many performers are the same between the KC Ren Fest and the MN Ren Fest since the two festivals overlap–can’t be in Kansas City and Minnesota at the same time, can we? Each Ren Fest/Faire is different.

And, yes, purple is bad because it is a color that was reserved exclusively for royals back in the Renaissance. From what I’ve gathered, it was actually against the law to wear that color if you were not royal. Therefore, back in the day, you’d never have seen a little purple wench dress such as the one my daughter owns. We bought it last year (at Fest, of course) without knowing better. Our Festie friends say that she can get away with it, though, because she is a princess at heart :).

There are a lot of rules for the people who work at Fest, but as patrons you can wear whatever you want. Many people make no effort to dress up in period costume at all, and that’s fine. There are also a lot of strange half-hearted attempts. Nobody (except our friends) has said anything about the kid’s purple dress so far.

What do you guys do for shoes? I have a pair of black “China flats” (cloth Mary Jane-type shoes). They are pretty inconspicuous, but even with insoles, my feet are killing me at the end of the day. I also have some leather sandals, but the soles are thick rubber, so they don’t really look period. I’ve heard that some people use Minnetonka Moccasins–are they comfortable all day? Which styles are appropriate?

I am thinking the Bristol Renaissance Faire is maybe not so picky about authenticity in costume. I have seen every manner of fantasy costume, a LOT of goth stuff, gypsy-ish stuff and what seems to me an unnatural number of horned personages. As for me, well, I generally wear an ivory sort of chemise-y way off the shoulder blouse that comes to mid-thigh, a nice deep-scooped vest and an awesome pair of red suede thigh high boots. It’s generally too hot to want to top that off with a skirt :smiley:

When I first started going (waaay back in the early 80s, when it was King Richard’s) it seemed to me that there were a lot more stickler-y people in terms of costume and particularly in terms of vocabulary used. I remember trying frantically to translate iambic pentameter into something vaguely resembling the price of a bauble. THAT I miss…it made things a lot more fun.

Tamex: Thank you! Makes sense to me.

You mean Sky Chairs aren’t period??? :wink: [sub]I want one anyway![/sub]

Here’s what I wish–I wish that MN Ren Fest would emphasize more things that made the Renaissance special and different from both the Dark Ages beforehand and the modern ages that followed. There is a lot of “this is how people did things long ago”, and that is fine and good, but I think a lot of it would probably fit into a “Medieval Faire” as well. Where is Shakespeare? Where is Leonardo DaVinci? Where is this exciting sense of science being rediscovered? Are there Ren Fests/Faires where this is being done? Am I missing something?

There was a Shakespeare booth thing at the KC ren fair the first couple years i went… i think he wrote bad poetry for whoever requested.

Not exactly authentic, but does that count?

Lord Geoffrey Linyiue at your service m’lady.

Sadly way down here in the very, very, Southron Reaches of Caid we don’t get to do the excellent big events of mainland Caid and the other kingdoms. I was very excited a couple of years back to get to An Tir coronation (certainly the biggest event I’ve ever been to) as well as the Clinton War in British Columbia.

There were a lot of post 1600 cavalier outfits at both events and I felt the explanation I got from the Baron of Lionsgate illuminated an attitude that I really appreciated (and sometimes find lacking in some SCAers); he said that when Lionsgate held its very first event some 25-odd years back they wrote pre-17th century on the posters and many people turned up in cavalier outfits. Their solution was to print the posters for the next event as pre-1700. :cool: