It’s held in Pennsylvania, hence the name, which is a bad pun on the Punic Wars.
RennFests are more entertainment- there are performers, and there’s the audience, which pays to be entertained. At SCA events like Pennsic, everyone who comes is a participant, and there is no audience.
It’s very different. Instead of people coming to be entertained, they’re living their lives and making their own fun. There are some ‘shows,’ but they’re not at all professional, just enthusiastic amateurs who find their fun in performing, like the Italian-style commedias I mentioned, which are improvisational and fairly dirty. There’s plenty of exciting battleground action (if you can follow it- it’s really there because people enjoy fighting, and it’s confusing to watch), and plenty of shopping, but there’s also plenty of hanging around camp with a book or a chessboard.
Alas, one of the unfortunate side effects of SCA for me has been that I no longer have any fun at Rennaissance festivals. Kind of like returning from Europe and visiting Epcot- a cheesier, glossier, higher-priced version of real life.
Not especiallyin the food court, but most people cook at their own camps, which can range from ‘kind of icky’ to ‘I’m having orgasms my mouth.’ The food stands are decent, but they’re mainly for those nights when you’re too lazy to cook.