The lifestyle of 16th century Europe becomes part of the Key Peninsula during the Washington
Renaissance Fantasy Faire in August. Organizer Ron Cleveland has been king of the faire since its takeoff nine years ago, when he took over from directing the Performance Circle of Gig Harbor. In creating the faire, he had two goals in mind: Everyone leaves with the thought, “That was great, let’s do it again,” and the vendors make money.
Why does this king continue to rule over his expanding realm year after year? Cleveland responds, “I do it because I really love it.”
It takes nearly 300 people, most of them volunteers, to bring the medieval times to life. The event is set as a story line: The setting is a quiet Scottish town that suddenly finds itself with visiting nobility. You’ll find nobles strolling through the grounds, as well as merchants, peasants and even a town beggar or two. “It adds more color to it,” says Dean Draeger, who has helped organize the event since its inception.
Entertainment is supplied for people of all ages and interests, making this faire the perfect family event. There are games specifically for children including puppet shows, magicians, and face painting. Musical performances range from dancers to bagpipers to choirs and individual singers. Fans of Shakespeare, or not, Shakespeare’s Bloody Bits is one performance everyone can agree on. Beer gardens for the adults, horseback acrobatics, archery on horseback, and jousting for everyone young and old are some of the attractions.
While there, take a moment to view the fine wares of at least 50 merchants before you head off to an inn for refreshments. Handcrafted jewelry, leather goods, wooden toys, clothing, art, food, blades, collectables… it’s just something you have to see.
With only 15 acres dedicated to parking, which is begging for traffic nightmares with a faire of such stature, one option is to take the Pierce County Bus Plus shuttle from the Purdy Park and Ride. The shuttle is free, although tips are appreciated. Faire-goers can avoid the agony of long lines at the gate by purchasing tickets online or through mail order — and either way enjoy the added discount of buying tickets in advance.
The faire offers a program that allows the community to make donations, as more and more money is put into the event each year. There are special benefits for each level of donation, and the littlest contribution is much obliged.