The 18th annual Village Renaissance Faire will raise funds for the Village Library of Wrightstown
By Samantha Bambino
We may be living in the fast-paced, technological age of the 21st century, but who said chivalry and magic are dead? On Sept. 16 and 17, travel back in time to the era when knights jousted for the love of a fair maiden as dragons roamed the skies. The 18th annual Village Renaissance Faire, held at the Middletown Grange Fairgrounds in Wrightstown, is a weekend of food, festivities and entertainment with all proceeds benefitting the Village Library of Wrightstown.
Though the Village Renaissance Faire can compete with some of the largest commercial festivals across the country, at its heart, it’s a community-based event. It all started 18 years ago when one family set out to grant their son’s wish of becoming a knight. Held in a local school gym, hundreds attended Bucks County’s first Renaissance faire. There was such an interest that the event continued to be held year after year, and has grown exponentially with approximately 9,000 attendees in 2016.
The faire is coordinated by the Village Library of Wrightstown, the recipient of all proceeds. According to faire director Ken Hone, the event is vital to the library’s survival.
“Without this event, we’d be closed on Sundays with no children’s programming,” he said.
While the library itself has a quiet, friendly atmosphere, the Village Renaissance Faire is far from a quaint event. Recently recognized by Renaissance Magazine, the faire is never the same two years (or even two days) in a row. Upon entering the fairgrounds, guests are greeted at the gate entrance with live music, which continues throughout the day.
Children and adults can try their hand at archery, throw weapons, partake in magical quests and receive a royal honor from the king and queen if they are victorious in the jousting tournament. Adamo Ignis, which in Latin means “to fall in love with flame,” is a group that will captivate audiences with the beauty and danger of fire. Adamo Ignis’ mission is to create memorable experiences and enjoyment through stunts such as fire eating and breathing, fire dancing, a bed of nails and a ladder of swords.
“No one would believe it’s a community event,” Hone said.
New this year, harpist Betsy Chapman will perform while her friend Bert Merrim of the Hill Center for the Arts will host an interactive trunk show and get attendees involved in street theater. A 12-foot tree called Lord Nobulis will walk among the crowd wrapped in vines while Bard and Feathers, a Philadelphia-based improvisation group, will perform a combination of improv and Monty Python and Shakespearian comedy.
According to Hone, bigger is better at the faire, especially when it comes to the activities. Guests can play chess with four-foot tall pieces and build a castle with Legos that are 10 times their normal size.
“Participants can become part of the chess board,” he said.
Additional attractions include games of skill, storytelling, obstacle courses, an aerialist, a birds of prey show and a performance by nationally-acclaimed a cappella trio Chaste Treasure. In between all of the festivities, guests can enjoy Renaissance-era foods such as roasted turkey legs, steak on a stick and peasant dogs, as well as modern day favorites like cheesesteaks, pretzels and cupcakes.
The faire is an extremely interactive event with costumed knights and kings at every turn, so guests are more than welcome to come decked out in Renaissance-era garb. At a previous faire, one attendee dressed as Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean while another, whom Hone remembers as “bubble guy,” walked around with a bubble-blowing machine.
“They allow themselves to get caught up in the moment,” Hone said.
If an attendee doesn’t dress up and regrets their decision upon arrival, they can choose from hundreds of free costumes available for public use. They just need to bring the clothing back at the end of the day.
It’s been centuries since the Renaissance period, but Hone isn’t surprised that people remain intrigued by it. Prior to the Renaissance, there was a severe separation between the rich and uneducated poor, but eventually knowledge and opportunities started to grow. It was a time of positive outlook, change and enlightenment.
“We moved from the rough, tumble and violent times to an expression of people,” Hone said.
Whether someone is knowledgeable about the Renaissance period or not, and whether they choose to attend in knight’s armor or civilian clothing, he promises an enjoyable experience for all at the faire. Attendees can also rest easy knowing their money is going toward a good cause. Hone has been involved in the faire since the beginning as a volunteer, and has had a front row seat watching it blossom over the years.
“Great things happen when people come together,” he said of his community. “Together we are stronger.” ••
If you go…
The Village Renaissance Faire will be held Sept. 16 and 17 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Middletown Grange Fairgrounds, 576 Penns Park Road in Wrightstown. Cost is $5 for students, $10 for adults and free for children under 5. Tickets are available at villagefaire.org.