View Full Version : Looking for an events planner and/or Ren-fair info

03-17-2008, 05:14 AM
In fleshing out novel synopsis, one of my main characters is an events planner. She's going to have a big enough business where she has a few assistants, whether they be full- or part-time.

In the story, she'll be taking on planning of a Renaissance fair. And no, I don't really know much about those, either. The fair will be a charity event.

If anyone has any info about either events planning or Ren fairs--you know, the personal details hard to suss out on the internet--I'd love a nugget or two of info.

03-17-2008, 05:34 AM
I don't know anything about planning a Renaissance Fair, but the one in Tennessee is held at a "castle" that someone has built. Something like that might make an interesting detail.

Here's a link: http://www.tnrenfest.com/

If you click the link to "Castle gets a new copper roof", there is an e-mail given for interviews of the person who is apparently in charge of planning the festival. She might be able to answer any specific questions you have.

03-17-2008, 04:36 PM
Well, if your event planner is doing a Renn Faire, she might contact the local branch of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism), Markland Medieval Mercenary Miltia (I think that's the full title) and/or any medieval re-enactment group in her area. The SCA and Markland, provided they're willing to help out, would have an autocrat and a merchant autocrat that your planner would work with. They're essentially the "go-to" person between your planner/company and the re-enactment group. The SCA is a large organization here in the US and Markland is located more on the East Coast of the US.

Try Markland.org and SCA.org. You can probably get more info on those websites as well as contacts. They also can help you with the type of people who would be "working" the faire (SCAdians if they're just SCA, Rennies if they lean more to just Renn Faires).

I know for a fact that both Markland and the SCA often help out at charity Renn Faires. They do at the one in my local area. They're listed as educational groups and these Faires help them with that.

03-17-2008, 05:38 PM
Ok, here's some more information about what I can remember from the Renn Faires I've done/been to in the past.

1. Renn Faires are usually done in the summer months when it's warmer and the days are long. I've seen faires held as early as early May and as late as September and even October.

2. The Faires are usually held in a park or a business that has a large outdoor venue. I've seen them done at a local Grange (4-H club I think, although I could be wrong) as well as a winery. This allows for the merchants to set up their booths/tents, a place for "games" and/or demos and still have pedestrian access. Also take into account parking - both for patrons as wells as for the Rennies (the people staffing the faire).

3. Decide on whether or not your Faire will be a one-day event or a weekend. The Faire near me is sponsored by the local Lions Club as a charity. It is a weekend event - 10-6 on Saturday, 10-5 on Sunday.

4. Most of the Merchants arrive early to set up their wares. At my local Faire, the Rennies and merchants both start arriving the Friday before event. They're allowed on site after 12 noon to start set up. I was there early one year and the first people on site were merchants, one being the merchant autocrat - the person organizing the merchants on the SCA side. The merchants then break everything down right after the faire ends and get ready to go.

As I stated before, the merchant autocrat is sort of the event planner for the merchants who have agreed to work the faire. The autocrat either male or female but the one at my faire is a worman. She's the one who contacted the other merchants to see if they're available to work this faire and finds out the info the other merchants need to know. She arrived early so she could set up her own wares and still have time to help organize everyone else as they arrived. She was the one who set up where the other merchants will set up their booths. If the other merchants need anything, they go to her.

5. What are the sleeping arrangements? Will there be camping? If not, the event planner and merchant autocrat have to work together and find out where the local hotels are. They will then have to work with the local hotels to see what they're willing to offer in the way of discounted rooms.

Many of the merchants travel some distance to work these faires. Some have campers where they can sleep. If not, they have tents. So if camping is available, at least some merchants will be staying on site, both to watch over their merchandise and to party/hang out.

My local Renn Faire had onsite camping. They put the camp site off to one side so that the public wouldn't take them as part of the faire itself.

6. What's the alcohol policy? Will drinking be allowed onsite? Not during the actual faire itself but afterwards? There are several "grades" depending on this. A "dry" site means no alcohol allowed, before, during and after, no matter what. Unless, of course, the rennies go offsite and have some with dinner. A "damp" site means that, if there's camping onsite, the rennies can drink, provided they're walking around with cups or mugs and not beer cans. Alcohol is not sold during the faire itself. A "wet" site means drinking's allowed on site.

03-17-2008, 06:33 PM
Dirtsider brings up a lot of valid points... good reference material.

I happened to have owned a professional jousting company, and toured renfairs for more than a decade. The 'larger' ones are located on permanent sites, with permanent buildings - and can take place as early as January and as late as December... it all depended on the location. In fact, Renfairs were slated for the 'best' time of year for their particular location. This is why we were in ARIZONA in Jan/Feb and Colorado in July and Boston in the fall - think of when the local 'outdoor festivals' are most likely to be held - ask your chamber of commerce when the 'tourist season' is - that's when a faire is most likely to be held.

You're not dealing with a full time faire, so it's a much smaller scale. Dirtsider is correct - the SCA is often called upon to supply 'color' for the local productions - they already have the people in period costumes, can usually provide some sort of martial display, and have 'guild' members that can display their skills - everything from weaving, to pottery making, to armor making.

I know 'craftsmen' that tour the circuit all year long, just as we did. It's a gypsy life. Some of them just barely get by - some of them have McMansions in the wine country, and shops in a dozen faires across the country - so your crafts people can be all over the map in terms of income spread. Local people will often only do local fairs - I know of people who have a shop in a local mall - who will also do their thing at the local renfair.

Yes, a short term fair will need a location as dirtsider suggested - a local park, sometimes a university campus - often some sort of 'medieval looking' facility - the cloisters, a winery, a church facility or ready made 'castle'.

Events of this scale need LOTS OF PERMITS. This can be the biggest headache for the planner. Parking, security, alcohol, food, waste disposal -including garbage pickup and porta-johns. Yep, it's a HUGE undertaking. At least, that's what one HOPES it is.

I've seen people spend a small fortune set up a faire, and spend NO money advertising it - and go painfully broke at the end of forty eight hours... when ONLY the local SCA showed up. They are a handy group, but there aren't enough of them to support a faire.

There are perhaps two dozen "LARGE SCALE" faires that take place around the country - By large scale, I mean on more or less permanent sites and are open for six to eight weeks. There are probably three dozen 'one off' weekend faires. Pick up a copy of RENAISSANCE MAGAZINE to see a listing of faires and ads from craftsmen for some inside info.

Any other questions, feel free to ask.

03-17-2008, 06:41 PM
I worked as a "minstrel" at the CO Renn Faire. These events actually have lots of volunteers for period flavor. The ones I've attended have several of these type of people who basically just pass the hat - jugglers, singers, etc.

There are also hair braiders, magicians, and carnival type games (except it's more shoot the arrow into the haybale than shoot the gun and hit the duck), in addition to more traditional merchants and lots and lots of artisans.

And they always serve Turkey Legs. LOL.

03-17-2008, 06:57 PM
Sorry - I should have mentioned that I'm from NJ and our seasons usually are during the summer. Writeknight is correct - the faires are definitely weather dependent. Contacting the Chamber of Commerce is a great idea. They can also tell you what it would take on their end to set something like this up.

03-18-2008, 10:29 PM
Thank you guys so very much! Such good, useful information! You've made me a happy gal. :)


03-19-2008, 04:07 AM
From an event's planner's point of view, after dates and budget are set, they have to consider permits from the town/city if it's an outdoor event, liquor permits, depending on the location they may require a permit from the fire department or city works. Parking and accommodation have to be arranged, transportation for people arriving from out of town may have to be considered. Food is one of the first things to work on, planning meals -- themes, specific requirements, wines, menus, and more budgets. There may have to be arrangements made for special suppliers for theme-oriented items/decorations/props (many times, this is contracted out to specialized companies that do nothing but theme events). If it's an outdoor event, bathroom facilities have to be arranged, located, and manned (cleaned, supplied with necessities). Water/drinks also have to be made available, sometimes gift baskets are arranged that contain sunscreen... the site has to be mapped out much like a seating arrangement.

Lemme know if there's anything else you need from the planning perspective. I worked for CP Hotels in administration (during the Olympics) so we did lots of event planning. I also worked for a Tour Company that specialized in arranging theme events for incoming groups.

03-23-2008, 03:52 PM
www.renfair.com has event schedules, shows, etc for all over the US