This FAQ is being written in response to a question, which comes up frequently in the Renaissance Faire community--"My friends and I are following a dream. We want to start a Renaissance Faire. What next?” The essay below is an attempt to provide information, which will help you to answer that question. This document is a work in progress, and should be considered in no way definitive or the last word. It is not a "sole source" "single authority" document. It is guidance based on the vast experience of a variety of people associated with Renaissance Faires as patrons, workers, and managers. These people have been kind enough to provide their informed insights and comments. You may not agree with everything that is said, but you should pay close attention to it. In the long run, it normally works out better (and usually much cheaper) to learn from the experience of others than from your own. Ultimately, it is your time, effort, reputation, peace of mind, and/or money on the line.
You've been to a lot of Renaissance Faires and you are thinking to yourself "Gee, this is neat. This is fun. I could do this. I want to do this. Why don't I start a Renaissance Faire? How hard could it be?"
The answer to the last question is "Very!!". First and foremost, operating a Renaissance Faire successfully--or, indeed, any form of public entertainment venue--is very hard work. There are a lot of things that have to be done in order to have a successful Faire. In the final analysis, what you are getting into is the bloodthirsty, paper work ridden, permit infested, money-sucking hole of corporate event planning and promotion. It may (eventually) be successful, profitable, well attended, spiritual, and even fun. But at first, it will be horrific, expensive, dreary, complicated, and about as far from a feel-good gathering of friends as you can imagine. Good corporate sense makes good festivals--bad corporate sense--you know the rest. You don't have to be a money-grubbing jerk, but you can't run a Faire like a backyard party and have it be fun for anyone involved. If you or your friends can't handle or are unwilling to run a business--and Faire is a business, make no mistake--better go do something else. Starting a Renaissance Faire is not for you.
You have read the paragraph above, and are still determined to put on a Renaissance Faire. Here are some factors you need to consider:
Also, do your best to interrogate as many people who work the Faires as possible. Talk to the merchants, the performers, the employees and cast. And definitely see about talking to the management. If you do not have the gumption it takes to just start asking folks you don’t know hard questions about their business, you probably don’t have what it takes to run a Faire.
Other good places for information are your local economic development center and possibly the SBA and SCORE. Hopefully there is a professional’s organization in your area that relates to festivals or event organization. Unfortunately, there is not an organization for Renfaires, proper, but if you look around, you can probably find something that is related.
And thus endeth this FAQ. Go forth with the knowledge thou hopefully hath gained and establish thy Faire to be a beacon upon a hill and an example upon which all wilt look in awe and to which many will flock!!!
Editor's (Norm's) Notes: