Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition

Florida Renaissanc­e Festival starts this weekend: Expect to be ‘shocked with the look of the show’

- By Rod Stafford Hagwood INFORMATIO­N: Email, visit ren-fest. com or call 954-776-1642.

How do you celebrate the 31st anniversar­y of the Florida Renaissanc­e Festival? You add an unpreceden­ted eighth weekend, that’s how.

Ren-Fest, as it is known by its loyal followers, has extended its run, stretching from this Saturday and Sunday until March 25 and 26 at Quiet Waters Park in Deerfield Beach.

For the uninitiate­d, or those firmly planted in the here and now, Ren-Fest features jousting knights, live music, animatroni­c installati­ons, comedic stage shows, magicians, strolling performers, as well as crafts, food and drinks. Yes, costumes are highly encouraged. (But don’t get hung up on sticking to a time period because Ren-Fest includes forays into steampunk, sci-fi, comic books and whatever eras fairy tales and “Alice in Wonderland” belong in.)

Bobby Rodriguez, founder and organizer, says they added a weekend to satisfy pent-up demand.

“Because of the pandemic we were shut down in the middle of one year, and then the next year we didn’t have a show,” he recalls. “When we came back last year, people were clamoring to get back. I’m on the boards of several [festival and entertainm­ent] organizati­ons ... and the general consensus was that as things started to open up, people were seeing not only higher attendance, but a greater percentage of newer customers. That was what we experience­d last year...

“People are still attending outdoor events across the country in larger numbers.”

What to expect

Each weekend will have a different theme throughout the staging. For details, go to ren-fest. com/events/themed-weekendsan­d-specialty-acts.

■ Feb. 4-5: The Wizarding World’s Faire - A Magical Grand Opening

■ Feb. 11-12: Barbarians & Dragons - A Roaring Battle

■ Feb. 18-19: Steampunk & Time Travelers - Age of Automation

■ Feb. 25-26: Maidens, Wenches and Goddesses - A Beautiful Empowermen­t

■ March 4-5: Days of Cosplay Heroes, villains & everything in between

■ March 11-12: Pirate Invasion Swashbuckl­ers & Scallywags

■ March 18-19: Highland Fling - A Celtic Celebratio­n

■ March 25-26: A Mad Hatter’s Circus - A Fairytale Finale

What’s new this time around

About 20 percent of the show has changed in terms of the layout, according to Rodriguez.

“When people come by, especially our regulars, they will be shocked with the look of the show and the layout,” he says. “Something we did last year, we built a new dais for the jousting field ... with the king, queen and court stand. And people were hugely impressed with this structure. It looks like a real building, a real facade. That gave us the incentive to go ahead and build more. Most of our stages .. have a whole new look.”

What about the vendors?

The crafts, games and food all reflect the vibe of Ren-Fest, Rodriguez says.

“This is what they call a juried show. Anyone who wants to be a vendor has to go through our jury process. We were not allowing anyone to come in to sell sunglasses or cellphone covers or anything that is a bit too modern. We try to keep the look as medieval/renaissanc­e as possible,” he explains. “Most vendors make most of their things. They’re handmade. To that end, if you’re someone who likes that, this is definitely a great place to shop because you find a lot of things that are handcrafte­d.”

If you go

WHAT: Florida Renaissanc­e Festival

WHEN: 10 a.m. until sunset (about 6:30 p.m.) each weekend from Feb. 4 to March 26

WHERE: Quiet Waters Park, 401 S. Powerline Road, Deerfield Beach


■ Single-day tickets are $35.28 for adults and $16.74 for children age 6-11. Admission is free for those younger than 6.

■ Season passes are $207.29 for adults and $84.21 for children.

■ Some Ren-Fest activation­s have additional fees, including The Pub Crawl for $41.46 (ages 21 and up) and “Den of Monsters” for $4.67 (a new live).

■ General parking is free, with pedicab shuttle services available to take you to the front gate. VIP parking is $28.07. Season pass holders can purchase VIP parking in person only at the park for a discounted price of $11.32 (credit card transactio­ns only).

 ?? GEORGE QUIROGA/COURTESY ?? Debracey Production­s’ knights at a past Florida Renaissanc­e Festival in Deerfield Beach.
GEORGE QUIROGA/COURTESY Debracey Production­s’ knights at a past Florida Renaissanc­e Festival in Deerfield Beach.

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