Renaissance Pleasure Faire returns to Irwindale for first show since pandemic began – San Gabriel Valley Tribune
Ye Olde Renaissance Pleasure Faire returned to Southern California for the first time in two years on Saturday, April 9, to kick off its 60th anniversary season.
The Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire is set to open every Saturday and Sunday through May 22 at the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area in Irwindale, where thousands of cosplayers, families and new visitors are welcomed to catch a glimpse of the Spanish conquistadors , Queen Elizabeth and some of the biggest impersonators around the world.
To enter the imaginary “beach town,” weekend attendees first had to wait in a line of traffic stretching for miles on Arrow Highway, which was a new sight for maidens and lords who regularly attend the annual festivities.
The crowds weren’t too shocking to see, employees said, as the event is often attended by more than 1,200 costumed performers wearing full 16th-century regalia. And this year was the first time they had been welcomed to Irwindale since the pandemic began.
Some masked faces made an appearance at this weekend’s fair, but Venetian “plague doctor” masks, elf ears and steampunk pirate paraphernalia outnumbered them by the dozens.
With a sword in hand, a knotted beard and glittering armor above the blonde hair of his two children, Ryan Cage said in an interview on Saturday that his family traveled from Santa Clarita for the first time in two years to enjoy of some of the annual revival festivities – just as he has done since he was young.
“Thanks COVID,” Cage joked, noting that a costume isn’t necessary to enjoy a day of imaginative play in the 6th century. “But they make the day much more interesting,” he said, referring to one of the fair’s favorite pastimes – people watching.
The Viking impersonator explained that he has been coming to the Renaissance fair since it was held at the Glen Helen pavilion. It’s been over 30 years since his first fair, Cage said, “and now I’ve been taking my boys since they were really little.”
“It’s my happy place and I think anyone here would say the same,” Cage said, reminiscing about the comedy shows, games and food he’s enjoyed over the years. “It’s definitely a family tradition.”
Archery, human-powered swings and shopping were other activities on offer for the kind, young girls and boys in attendance on Saturday.
Faux British accents and old-fashioned mannerisms filled the air near the merchant shops and entertainment areas where more than 40 performance bands graced the various stages of the 23-acre lakeside village.
Guests also found time to laugh with fair favorites such as The Washing Well Wenches, Clan Tynker Family Circus and MooNiE!
Hundreds of people also surrounded the sandpits to watch knights, in shining armor, face off in a jousting tournament, which was one of the most popular events of the day.
“It’s good. And it’s even better to know that nothing is made in a big warehouse,” Cage said. “It’s real art.”
But be sure to bring cash if you plan to participate in extracurricular activities or go shopping, as the on-site ATMs may be out of service when you need them most – which is exactly what happened to a group of young girls in Orange County on Saturday.
The trio refused to let hiccups bog down their day.
“It’s a beautiful day,” said Asholey Skit, who traveled from Orange County to enjoy her first fair. “I think it’s safe to say you’ll definitely see me here next year, all fantasized like the rest of the crowd.”
Potential attendees need not wait until next year though, especially with the Pirates Weekend scheduled for Saturday and Sunday April 16-17.
There will be a pirate costume contest where all contestants will gather and toast in the food court from 3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., according to organizers. While the pirates brag about their adventures, an anonymous judging will take place and the winners of the Renaissance Pleasure Faire “Pirate Booty” will be announced at 4:15 p.m. on both days.
Tickets for The Renaissance Pleasure Faire are $38 for adults and $23 for children ages 5-12. Children 4 and under are always free.
Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online at www.renfair.com.