googled06bb313055e587a.html Rock N Roll Rehab for the Control Of Rock and Roll Starring Greg Piper and The Tooners: My Renaissance Pleasure Faire Displeasure

My Renaissance Pleasure Faire Displeasure

I recently heard a radio commercial for the Renaissance Pleasure Faire. The commercial said, “This is not your grandfather’s faire. We’ve gone from hippies to hip.”

F U Renaissance Faire! The Renaissance Pleasure Faire certainly isn’t what it once was which was fun, educational, romantic and an adventure. Now it’s a cheap outdoor mall selling crap without even the theatrical atmosphere it used to have.

I attended the very first Renaissance Pleasure Faire back in 1964 (your grandfather’s faire). My father was a school teacher and a fellow teacher put on the fair which was along the lines of a PTA carnival with cardboard facades, plywood booths and crepe paper costumes but with a Renaissance theme. As my generation grew older we took the Faire as our own and as we tended to do, with rock bands, fantasy books and eventually Star Wars and Sci Fi movies, we really got into it. We “hippies” looked pretty Medieval anyway with our long hair and beards and the ladies’ Earth Mama look of the late Sixties and early 70s and the Faire audiences’ custom costumes got extremely elaborate, imaginative and well made.

The last time I went to the Faire, which was a few years after they moved to the Santa Fe Damn Recreational Area and the last I will go to the Faire, gone from the Faire participants were the attempts to speak in character with a English accent and to stay in character. Unlike the Faire of old which was spread out in a forest among hills and streams in Malibu Canyon and  later in Agoura Hills, the new version is on a flat piece of land that surrounds a lake. However, the storefronts are lined up around the lake facing out with another ring facing in so you walk in a circle through this continuous “swap meet” with the lake mostly hidden from view.

Back in the early days of the Faire I met an artist and sculptor named Jim Rumph. We became friends and he eventually sculpted a piece for me that he was going to sell at his stand in the Faire. When he died tragically a few years later I took the piece to the faire hoping one of the other shop keepers would display it. I was shocked and saddened by the comments of the new Faire participants as they had nothing but complaints about the new management of the Faire, not the least of which was they were no longer allowed to camp at the site.

The parties of the Faire in the old days are legendary. The crews would camp in Arabian tents and Gypsy wagons on the fairgrounds during the week (the Faire is only open on the weekends) as many came from out of state and many actually traveled with the Faire in a Renaissance Pleasure Faire circuit which goes all over the country.

As I’ve said, I haven’t been for a while and by now they may have incorporated roller coasters and thrill rides. Is this what they mean by “hip”? Knott’s Berry Farm used to be an Old West theme and now you really have to look hard for the remnants of the old park among all the Six Flags style coasters. Charm and imagination are gone and adrenaline is what’s “hip”. 

All I know is that when my kids went to Knott's and the Renaissance Pleasure Faire after hearing me talk about them they just said, “What’s the big deal?” I had to agree. The big deal is now just a memory.

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