Connecticut Post (Sunday)
Stratford set to welcome first Renaissance Fair
STRATFORD — One of William Shakespeare’s lines in his play, “As You Like It” would go on to become one of the most famous lines in English literature.
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” Shakespeare wrote.
And while the Shakespeare theater in Stratford burned down in 2019, residents and visitors will find themselves as players on a different kind of stage. The town will host the Shakespeare Renaissance Festival, the first of its kind in Stratford, which is named after Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace.
The fair will boast a magician, live music, battle reenactments and games. It will be held at Shakespeare Park, 1850 Elm St.
Tom Dillon, one of the organizers, said that the upcoming event will make great use of the space that was formerly occupied by the theater.
“The Renaissance Festival is just like the perfect thing for the property and to keep the space lively. And we’re just really excited to bring a bunch of great acts down to Stratford,” Dillon said.
But visitors heading to the festival won’t just see attendees dressed in period appropriate clothing, peppering their conversations with “ye” and “thy.” They’ll also get to see some of the more bloodier aspects of the Renaissance, which also had the Thirty Years War and the attempted Spanish invasion of England.
“One of the performers is called the Knights of Gore, who is a large team that puts on an unscripted battle together,” Dillon said. “So they’ll be performing twice during the day in a section of the park. So it’s a fullscale, armor-clad melee of total chaos. It’s going to be a ball.”
Dillon also said that the performers will be dressed accurately, wearing a mixture of plate and leather armor.
Tim Brisol, co-owner and general manager of the Shakespeare Renaissance Festival, said the event will also feature a Shakespeare comedy act named Shakespeare Approves. An actor dressed up as the Bard will pick a Shakespearean play to perform, but will introduce comedic elements to make it more child friendly.
Bristol said he was surprised this is the first event of its kind at that spot.
“I’m actually surprised that no one has done this at the Shakespeare Park before,” Bristol said.
The performance aspect of a Renaissance fair, Bristol said, is underappreciated.
“People equate Renaissance fairs to carnivals and Renaissance fairs are more of a show than a carnival,” Bristol said.
He pointed out that the Knights of Gore will not be holding mock combat but will actually strike each other — though the weapons are blunted to prevent severe injury. Other entertainers will be wandering around, performing for an audience.
The event, which is close to Halloween, will also be a costume contest as well.
But it’s not all about acting and performance. Food will be in abundance as well. Except don’t expect any venison or eel pie.
Bristol said that he actually tried to see if someone could serve period-accurate food, but it was difficult to source an appropriate provider. Instead, burgers, empanadas and grilled cheese sandwiches will be served from food trucks.
“Everyone’s favorite Renaissance fair food is kettle corn and we’re going to have that and fried Oreos,” Bristol said.
The festival will be held on Sunday, October 24 from 10 a.m to 4 p.m. Tickets cost $15 for adults, $10 dollars for children and any one under six can enter for free.