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September 6, 2011 > A medieval summer

A medieval summer

By Jessica Noel Waymire

Step into a world of fun and fantasy at the Ardenwood Shakespeare Festival and Renaissance Faire. Now in its third year, the festival takes over Ardenwood Historic Farm for the weekend of September 10 and 11, transforming the pastoral hideaway into a 15th century village bustling with activity, reenactments, games, and theater.

Renaissance fairs became popular in the 1960s; the first fair held in 1963 was designed as a representation of an Elizabethan springtime market and had free, live reenactments of the period's townspeople. Historical recreations are popular worldwide, but Renaissance Fairs are unique; they enthusiastically encourage audience participation. Some avid fair-goers don costumes to rival Queen Elizabeth herself! (Helpful tips for dressing for a Ren fair are available on the festival's website).

Ardenwood fair-goers will enjoy the theatrics of over 900 performers in historic costumes parading the streets. Vignettes and selections from William Shakespeare are offered on three stages; artisans and merchants have crafts, trinkets, and goods for the shopper with a keen eye for craftsmanship. And, of course, there is plenty of fabulous food and drink!

The theme of the fair is "Shakespeare's Muse," in which ol' Will suffers from writer's block and seeks inspiration from his fellow townspeople. You'll find yourself drawn into the drama of this little town and transformed by the experience. Archers, musicians, blacksmiths, magicians, singers, acrobats, knights, and the royal court are ready to entertain. The highlight of the weekend is live jousting on horseback, presented by the Imperial Knights.

Clan Iain Abrach, a Scottish Renaissance guild, will have a weapons display, crafts, and host a Cast Iron Chef Cooking Contest. Children will find the artistry of the Bubble Fairy fascinating. Need a break from walking about town? Stop in for a massage! Fair patrons can learn about historic crafts, games, and what life was like in Elizabethan Europe. There are many opportunities for fun and learning at the Shakespeare Festival.

The Ardenwood Shakespeare Festival is produced by Renaissance Productions, a fantasy event management team that hosts a number of festivals in the Western region. Tickets are $17 for adults, $13 for seniors, and $8 for children. Kids under four are free. Purchase tickets in advance through East Bay Parks by calling 1 (888) 327-2757 or online at www.ebparksonline.org. Enter to win free tickets by following the festival on Facebook.

Shakespeare Festival & Renaissance Faire
Saturday and Sunday, September 10 and 11
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Sunday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
Ardenwood Historic Farm
34600 Ardenwood Blvd., Fremont
(888) 327-2757
www.ardenwoodfaire.com
Tickets: $8 - $17

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