The faire, the brainchild of local resident Ron Cleveland, was first started in 1998. According to Cleveland, that year’s attendance was 1,200. In 2003, there were over 50,000 faire-goers! The faire is hugely popular and organizers want to make it a permanent fixture on the Peninsula.
Cleveland has been in discussions with the Department of Natural Resources and the Key Pen Metropolitan Park District regarding a permanent site for the faire where it could leave some structures yearround. Other discussions include running the faire for four weekends in the future.
Producing the event is a huge endeavor, which requires over 200 volunteers. According to Cleveland, the event costs upward of $250,000, so dollars have to be squeezed to make it work — especially with state and county requirements for potable water, traffic control and sewage disposal. The rules get tighter and stricter every year, driving up expenses.
Cleveland is required to hire state certified flaggers for the traffic-controlled areas, and last year there were no major backups because of the controlled flow of traffic, he said. The people who set up tents along the highway to sell wares are not part of the Renaissance Faire, Cleveland emphasizes.
The faire has something to enjoy for everyone. Folks from every class of society are represented, from a beggar lady to a queen, period musicians, goldsmith, silversmith and blacksmith (they each) create completely different items) and if you want to be part of it, you can go to the costume rental and get something to wear.
Wander around and see the jugglers, hear the musicians, watch for fairies, unicorns, dragons and trolls. Take the kids to juggling school or the First Knight Academy where they will train with foam swords. They can walk through a maze, or watch a magician or puppet show. They can eat different foods while hearing a story. Go get a turkey leg or fish and chips, shaved ice or ice cream, there is much to offer in victuals.
All can watch The Seattle Knights perform jousting and have sword fights – swordplay or team sword fighting. Heather Alexander, a well-known Celtic folk singer, will be on hand to perform as well.
There are eight stages total, and folks who like Shakespeare can watch a play, a fire performer, bagpipes, dancers and magicians. Watch a combat demonstration, how wool is spun or other demonstrations of period crafts.
Cleveland considers safety a major issue during the event. “People should understand it is safe to consider slowing down at Charboneau’s to the south, and 94th to the north, and just prepare to be ready for slow-moving traffic during faire time,” he said. Aside from that — just stop in and enjoy. Fun, food, entertainment, knights in shining armor and ladies in waiting — sounds like a grand time at the castle!