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The Renaissance Festivals - Ren Faires


#1

Please note, this is a little long…

Ren faires are a different ball of wax, so to speak. First off
there are a couple of different circuits. More or less similar to
minor league/major league sports. Smaller, temporary faires tend to
be less sticky about the authenticity of products being flogged off,
um, I mean sold. Yes, it is a sore point with me, and several other
vendors… This can be very frustrating if you are
handcrafting/forging your own work - not getting into THAT thread :slight_smile:

  • as the re-sellers can undercut you something fierce. (this is
    where education of the customer comes in…) That said, the smaller
    faires,can be a good place to learn some of the ropes, further define
    your product, and get your feet a bit wet, to see if you really want
    to try swimming in this pond. Expect a LOT of road time, set up,
    tear down, and the accompanying wear & tear on the vehicle, tents,
    your body. When, where do you make stock? A good set up for
    handling the cash/banking is a must! More so than if you are in a
    permanent show, as it is not uncommon to be in 3 states/locations 3
    weekends in a row…etc. Also know that many of these shows fill
    up as much as a year in advance, and others are still adding vendors
    up to the day before the show. You can find more on ren
    faires at www.faires.com , just know that attendance figures are
    given by the promoters and not verified. I have done fabulous at
    some of the smaller shows. And I have lost my tush on others. It’s
    always a crap shoot. Some promoters have very good reputations, and
    of course there is also the flip side of that.

A permanent or big show has real advantages, but as Jim pointed out,
not necessarily cheap to get into. A booth in a big show can run as
much as a small house, and it is only used for 2 months or so. This
does NOT include any show fees paid to the promoter, license fees for
the local city/county, etc…It also does not mean the booth you buy
or build will be suitable for living in. More expenses.

I don’t know of a big show on the circuit that doesn’t have a jury
process. And as a jeweler, it is very tough to get into them. Your
work must stand out in some way, address a niche or market not being
fulfilled. I have been able to do that. It has taken me almost 14
years to get where I am now. I had to learn alot, and make mistakes.
And get rejected. That forced me to get better. I now am in 3 large
ren faires, and they overlap. More issues to resolve. Making enough
stock for all the shops, people to work the various shows/shops…
Costuming- some of the faires are not as strict as others. And you
can still create the look, use lighter weight fabrics. Linens and
looser weave silks are fine. Details are important. I do dress my
station, as a jeweler, of gold & silver. I have also won awards for
my costuming. (translate that to $$ off of the next seasons
fees…) I wear all the proper undergarments, and over skirts. I
just use linens, light silks and other fabrics that breath. I also
drink a lot of water, and try to eat regularly. BRF is in Kenosha,
between Milwaukee and Chicago. HOT, and Humid. Ugh. In my opinion,
the exposure of cellulite, or as much bosom as possible should be
left to the patrons who wish it. It certainly is not correct for
Elizabethan times/faires. It seems to be acceptable at fantasy
faires. The glass maker at BRF does not expose herself or
apprentices to the fire/heat irresponsibly (leather aprons, long
breeches), and her demos are packed every time, every day of the
season. ASL (Astral Seas, Ltd) also has packed demos for their pewter
spinning at KCRF, as well as the blacksmith demos, down there. They
tend to dress their stations. So no velvets or heavy fabrics and
laces, nor overly exposed body parts.

As far as casting demos, I know several faires have the sand casing
demos/make your own pendent booths. I don’t know of casting being
done on a larger basis. You can certainly contact the craft
coordinator and ask. Some faires also have a visiting artist program,
where you would pay a reduced fee, and rent a booth for only a few
weekends.

Ren faires have a magic of their own. I love it, and wouldn’t trade
faire for anything…

AJ Cullum
the Royal Exchange ~ Jewelers
Bristol Ren Faire, Kansas City Ren Faire, MN Ren Faire