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The Renaissance Pleasure Faire: What you need to know

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Excitement and the smell of turkey legs fill the air of the crowd waiting outside of the gates to enter the renaissance fair. The land on the other side of those tall majestic gates will soon be filled with dragons, fairies, sorcerers, and sixteenth-century royalty. The Renaissance Pleasure Faire is going on now through May 22 in Irwindale California, next to the Santa Fe Dam reservoir, where it has taken place since 2005.

One of the most recognizable traits in renaissance fairs across the globe is how all workers and most attendees dressed in costumes vaguely based on clothing during the 16th century. Although it is not always realistic, costumes at the fair are the most exciting and enchanting part of the entire thing. When walking around the fairgrounds, you are likely to see people dressed in colorful corsets or boots with pointed toes. Being surrounded by people wearing fairy crowns and wizarding robes makes you feel as though you are living through a fantasy novel. In 1987, Phyllis Patterson, one of the creators of the fair, told the Los Angeles Times that “The whole idea is to get people to play the living history game”. Although I recommend dressing up for the fair, as it adds to the experience, it is not required nor necessary in order for you to still have a good time. I often have had years where I haven’t worn anything special at all and still had a blast.

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The food options of The Renaissance Pleasure Faire are not those which you would see on any typical fairground. Renaissance fairs offer oysters, fish and chips, and turkey legs! Turkey legs are by far the most well-known meal sold at the fairs. Many turkey leg popups or vendors at the fair have been working there for decades. According to the Los Angeles Times, Bobby and Leila Rinaldo have been vendors at The Renaissance Pleasure Faire for almost four decades, and have seen the demand in the turkey leg business grow dramatically. The LA Times stated that “when the former turkey-leg vendors at the fair bowed out of the festival, the Rinaldo's stepped in. Now they are the only ones serving the iconic treat”.

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The Renaissance Pleasure Faire was founded in 1963 in Laurel Canyon, California. Phyllis and Ron Patterson created the fair as a small backyard get-together with friends and family, but it quickly grew in size. Roughly 20 years after the creation of the fair the couple got divorced and eventually sold the fairs to Renaissance Entertainment, which is the largest producer of fairs in the United States today. Today over 20,000 people attend The Renaissance Pleasure Faire each year and the number is continuing to grow. There is no denying the enchantment and wonder the renaissance fair creates for all of us. What can I say? Some of us just love feeling as though we are living in a fantasy world.

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