Renaissance Pleasure Fair

Fairi-People with flags walking
Guest Blogger and photographer this week is JoJo Schmidt.
She attended the Renaissance Pleasure Fair on May 10th. The event goes on through May 18th.
Check it out at
This is a huge event in California that happens every year in Irwindale. You have one more weekend.

Saturdays and Sundays April 5 to May 18th from 10am till 7PM you can escape to the time of the Renaissance. The Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area of Irwindale transforms into The Renaissance Pleasure Fair and families and individuals can travel back in time to experience what life was like in Europe from the 1300-1600’s. The Renaissance time period is the name given to the movement in Europe, which inspired men to abandon the restraints of the Middle Ages in order to develop modern interests.
We were able to avoid the ticket line by picking up our tickets at our local Walgreens. Its a 4$ discount from the gate price But more importantly you can avoid the ticket line and walk right in. Parking is $10 and you wind through some dirt roads so don’t wash your car before you go.
I was in complete awe at the detail and the experience I had wandering the fair this past Saturday. The staff are all volunteers. These people are engineers, secretaries, mechanics and house wives by day but come Friday evening these people metamorphis into the characters of the Renaissance period. The Pleasure Faire has created a place one can go and really understand the feel the life of these people.
The minute you walk into the grounds you have stepped backed in time. You are geeted by an array of individuals which represent the lay folk to the royalties of the Renaissance.

Fair Two customed people

The program with a map and a schedule of events is only a $1 and will help organize your day and give you a lay out of the grounds. The area is widespread so bring your walking shoes and a hat to shade you from the sun. You are surrounded by the mountains and the breeze coming off the lake is a welcome relief to the sun. It really is way more than you can absorb in one day so getting a map and strategizing your day is ideal. The grounds are broken down into 5 areas which are: The Trade Markets, Game Row, Food Court, Guest Artist, and Clothing. There are also subdivisions of Jewelry, Pottery, Leathers and other crafts along the way.

I loved the games. In a day and age of Xbox and Computers, it’s fun to step back into a time of bow and arrows, tossing spears and axe tosses. My favorite was the Turtle Race where 20 turtles race to the finish. You pick your turtle and then the race is on. Each participant’s turtle is placed under a bucket in the center of the track. You cheer for your turtle which has his number on his shell so you can identify which one is yours. You cheer, you shout, you beg, you down right holler in hopes your turtle will follow your voice. Winner is first one that can get their turtle to come to them. It may not be Game Boy but is certainly an introduction to simple pleasures.

Every time I passed a ride on the midway I couldn’t help chuckling to myself. The rides were similar to our current day rides but there are no MOTORS. Every ride was powered by MAN. Two guys would alternate pushing the large dragon that swung from side to side. Men pushed the 10 -12 riders back and forth as the kids squealed with delight. There were various swings that thrilled the kids and adults alike.

Fair-Swing 2
There were lots of clothing booths, jewelry, art all from this wonderful time. The food court will introduce you to large turkey legs which are fun to gnaw on and there are plenty of options of favorite brews to wash it down. Throughout the park are various small stages where there is a constant selection of performers. Story tellers, Schools of Magic even the May Pole dancers who entertain all day long.

Fair musiciansFair People sitting down
Fair-Tent with cups

One of the most popular shows is the Battle at Noon where the English and Celts battle to the death. The two groups march in to the stadium and after bantering back and forth, they go to battle. They explained to the crowd with all the chaos of the battle that on the battle field the individuals have to rely on the drum cadence as their direction to proceed or retreat. The weapons are large and barbaric. Hearing the clash of the metal to the shields and clash as the spears collide you realize that this is no back yard fun. It must take a lot of practice and control to ensure no one is truly injured. You are so involved in the battle as you completely forget these are just common folk reliving an event.

Fair-Beginning of fightFair-Fight
Fair-Fight 2Fair-Fight 3

Everyone wants to see the Joust. They have two scheduled tournament daily. The stands are full so pick your side and show up early or you will have to stand. The horses are powerful and strong. The tournament begins with cheers from each side for their rider. The bone crunching thud of the javelin to the shield shows this is no game but rather a competition. It is a must see when you go to the fair.

Our “Reba” was a member of the German group St Michaels. We were welcomed into their “home front” and what an experience. To see the back stage was so impressive. I figured the role these people filled walking the streets of the faire would drop on the home grounds. NO – they remain in character talking and enjoying the Renaissance life. The Tents they stay in must be opened so the public can see in them —-their bedding and everything in the tent has to be from this time period. You do not see a sleeping bag or back pack—you see blankets and rugs from that time. All their cooking utensils and cutlery are from this time period. So this is not something they show on the grounds to the public but is something they LIVE and experience the entire weekend.
Fair- Camp siteFair camp

After meeting these wonderful people who welcomed us into their “home” I could see they are much more than friends but they are a family. You can feel the love they have for each other. It’s been two years since we lost Reba and it was comforting to share with this second family the joys of fun memories and see the pangs of grief in losing her. Her loss is not just something we endure but I now see how many lives that she touched.

The Renaissance Pleasure Faire is an event you don’t want to miss. You will find yourself saying “Oh I want to go again next year.”, but by the end of the day you will be saying “what are we doing next week we hardly got to see it all.”

Dedicated to Rebecca ‘Reba’ Thomas.

Beck plaque qith othersFair-Beck Plaque


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