LIVING THE RENAISSANCE TODAY. Renaissance Festivals in America.
The first Renaissance Festival was organized in 1963 in the Hollywood Hills-- ground zero of make-believe. There are now more than a 150 annual fairs in the US, with the two largest in Plantersville, Texas, and Shakopee, Minnesota.
Together, those fairs attract about six million visitors, slightly more females than males (53 vs. 46 percent), with a third in the under 35 years of age group coveted by merchants. They are generally well educated (64 % college grads) and well-off (52% homeowners). They have to be well-off because it will cost them $ 300/day and up. What do they get for their money?
- The illusion to escape the modern world and spend a day surrounded by fake architecture, in a lovely English village or the noble court of our beloved Queen Bess.
- Becoming part of the fantasy and magic by dressing up. Popular costumes for rent are: Romeo and Juliet, the village wench, the tavern lady, sexy Gwenhyfar, the executioner, Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo. If you are tired of historical characters, there is always Guido Libido, the Hopeless romantic, friend to all women.
- Fun, fun, fun in a place where pleasures reign and merrymaking is the rule. What kind of pleasures? Full contact jousting, falconry, jugglers, jesters, an exchange of comic insults, bear-baiting (the comic version), and leeching (the bloodless version, I assume).
- Post-Renaissance payment methods. Sign at one festival booth: We honor Lady Visa and the Master of the Card.
(Source: Paul Grendler, The European Renaissance in American Life)