Monday, September 28, 2015

Author Interview/New York Renaissance Faire

First, I want to thank Jeri Walker for making me the featured author on her wonderful site. 

I hope you take the time out and check out this online interview.

You may know Jeri, for she is a consistent contributor to the comment section on this page, she is also a great freelance editor and blogger. If you need editing work done, check her out on her website and her wonderful blog.

This will be the last post I do this year about attending a renaissance/medieval fair. And I left the largest if not the best for last. As you know I like to go to these types of faires, especially since I use them as research for my novels, including “Legend of the Mystic Knights”.

The New York Renaissance Faire, is the largest in the State of New York. There are others, most notably the Sterling Renaissance Festival, which I was unable to attend this year. The Sterling Faire is probably more historically accurate, but for sheer size, the NY Renaissance Faire is larger.
The New York Renaissance Faire is located in Tuxedo, NY, a rural community in the Catskills. It is over a 2 hour drive from my apartment near Albany to Tuxedo. I will say that MapQuest is not accurate when it comes telling you how long it takes to get somewhere, so if you go make appropriate estimates about driving times.
The faire is located near, if not in, the Sterling Forest State Park. The park consists of 21, 935 acres of pristine woodland. When you drive to the faire, you will be surprised how it sits in such a rural untouched area.
The faire is described as a “rollicking romp through Elizabethan England complete with 16th century games, rides, arts crafts, food, music and dance.”
The particular weekend I went was the last weekend of the event for the year; it was also the Oktober Fest Weekend.
First give you some background on the New York Renaissance Faire. It is located in Tuxedo, NY, in the heart of the Sterling Forest. Now this is going to be a little confusing. This Sterling Forest is located in Orange Country, NY, in the southern tier of the state; it is located next to, but not to be confused with the New York Sterling Forest State Park (I mentioned above). To add to the confusion, there is a Sterling, NY which is located near Oswego NY, way upstate and also has its own renaissance festival (also see above).
Now that I have totally confused you, let’s get back to the New York Renaissance Faire.  This faire is located on 65 acres, which comprises of woods, and also permanent structures, including shops and stages built for this faire.
So now let me describe my personal experience of this fair. I first must say it is not an easy drive to get to, from Albany, or New York City. Either direction, you first take the New York throughway, which is fast traveling, but you then must take NY 17S. This is a very long, winding country road, for someone like me who grew up in a rural area, the drive is perfect; however, I could see someone having difficulties in they were only accustomed to city driving. I also would recommend you pay attention, because animals (such as deer) will travel across this road.
As for the day, I could not have picked a better one. Last time I was here it was late summer, and had a girlfriend that seemed not to drink water or eat when she should, and suffered a lot from low blood sugar. Once we had gotten to the fair, it was too hot for her and I could not stand any more complaining so we left about ½ hour after we got there.  Now, by myself, it is early fall, clear skies and temperatures around upper 60’s to low 70’s.
Now let’s get back to the faire, the first I will speak about are the attractions.
The highpoint of any medieval, renaissance festival is the joust, and of course the New York Renaissance Faire had one too. It consisted of a contest where numerous knights jousted against each other. Before the competition they had music, mostly drumming and flutes, and a group of dancers moving to the music. This was wonderfully choreographed and very enjoyable to watch, even the two guys dressed as mermaids was fun to watch.
The jousting itself was impressive as usual. When you do see some of these events, you will notice sometimes a knight will fall backwards before he is struck. This is normal with any of these jousts, but the knights are well trained and put on a great show.
The booths and vendors at this event are too numerous to mention them all. I will say some have impressive goods, and food. If you wish to purchase items at an event like this, bring lots of money.
Here are several that I did visit and had time to talk to.
Skáldvik Viking Village- This was very entraining and educational. It was a recreation of a Viking encampment consisting of tents, a fire, and people weaving and cooking and of course the Norsemen warriors.
Skáldvik or Skalds means story teller, and this was also part of their encampment. A person at this encampment told stories throughout the day of the Viking saga, including Norse gods and great deeds done by the Viking people. In the olden days, this was how the legends and history of this people was passed on from one generation to the next. If it was not for these people who kept their history alive in their heads, we may never know anything significant about the Norseman or their culture and history.
I actually wished I had time to spend more time at this camp and to speak to them.  They will certainly be a group I will follow and see during next year’s medieval faire route I take.
Catskill Mountain Moccasins- This was one of the first stops I made at the faire. This group is located in Woodstock, NY so I will definitely take the time to check them out.
They produce some wonderful products (check out their site for more information). This is not your typical buy off the rack shoes and boots.  These are custom made moccasins made to your specifications and molded to your feet and calves. If you want something that is unique, well fitted footwear, check these people out.
Bullseye NYRF- They do produce some spectacular leather products. I enjoyed speaking to one of their salespersons while I was there.
There were many at the faire dressed up. This included those who pay attention to historical details, and those who dress up in any manner they want. I did see someone in a combination knight, Darth Vader outfit. There were several dressed up as Daenerys Targaryen from “Game of Thrones”. My favorite was someone in costume as the Black Knight from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” (1975), he was dressed completely in black, huge sword and even had one arm missing,
I am going to address some complaints out there are this event. Mostly of these are concerns that this is one big money trap.  I cannot disagree with that, prices are high, but so what?  This event is located an hour from New York City, so it is not a small town or regional faire, like the ones I have addressed before in my posts. Prices here are going to be elevated for the higher cost of living, and if they weren’t, I bet it could not function every weekend as if does now during the late summer. And unlike regional faires, this is run by a corporation (Renaissance Entertainment Corp) ; everyone complains about the prices at Disney parks, but they still go to them.
Another year of renaissance/medieval faires has come and gone. It was a year of experiencing new faires, and re-visiting old ones. I hope you had enjoyed me speaking about them over the past spring and summer.  I will miss this time, but as I stated before we are now entering Halloween season, and this will give me more topics to talk about. Speaking of which, the buildings of the New York Renaissance Faire will be converted into the Forest of Fear during October.
Nest Week: The world’s largest garage sale, and another Comic Con.



  1. Sounds like great fun, if not a little confusing in the location! LOL Interesting about the Norse men. I am such a fan of the TV series The Vikings! It's one thing we don't see a lot of in school history.

  2. I can totally see you being a good fit for the Ren faire. There has been a big one in the SF Bay area for years and has had to move its site as it became so big. But I actually haven't been to one since I left the UK. And of course there they usually hold them around some crumbling castle which really does add to the atmosphere. The games are pretty fun too.

  3. How fun to see jousting in person! That was a crazy sport--I can't imagine letting someone come at me full-tilt on a horse with a pointed spear sticking out at me!

    1. You have to remember the point of the joust. You can win by dismounting your opponent off his horse, but this is almost impossible to do. The other way to win, is to break you lance on his shield or armor. So knights ended up, cutting their lances so it is easier for them to break. So in reality, the lance is not striking you with its full force, it will shatter upon impact. thanks for leaving a comment.

  4. Very interesting, William. I had no idea there were so many medieval and renaissance festivals! I guess it's like that with any niche. Once you start delving in, you find much more information that you ever thought possible. I'm sure finding that with respect to chocolate events!

  5. All of that sounds like allot of fun, aside from the confusing in the location :-) I really thought is was interesting about the Norse men. Having been to Norway, I am now totlay fascinated by anything Vikings. They do have an extraordinary history. :-)

  6. I love Renaissance Faires and the New York event sounds marvelous. Enjoyed your interview on Jeri's site William - congrats!

  7. Thanks for being a featured author on my blog this week and thanks for sharing all of your various festival events with us. I am thinking more and more about seeing what I can find close to the Boise area.

    1. No, thank you.
      It was a privilege and an honor to be your featured author on your site.

  8. William, I just realized why I so enjoy your posts about Medieval Faires so much. I was executive-director of a branch of St.John Ambulance, an organization that started in England in the middle ages during the crusades. Knights were being wounded left, right and centre and a group of knights decided they had enough and formed an ambulatory service to transport the wounded to a hospital in Jerusalem. (SJA still operates an Opthalmic Hospital there today)
    If you haven't yet, you would probably enjoy reading 'The History of the White Cross".
    So there you have it - a solid connection between our interests.

  9. Read Jeri's interesting interview with you on her blog. Honestly had no idea there are so many medieval faires in the US. They are perfect for promoting your book and somehow get the visitors on your mailing list.

  10. William, as a boy my favorite book was Ivanhoe, and it still has a place of reverence on my bookshelf. My favorite school projects required a moat and murder holes and I still think everyone should carry a broadsword. Sounds like the fair was fun.

  11. Performing at the NY Renaissance Faire was one of my first ever paying acting jobs. I spent 9 hours a day as The Damsel in Distress, running around in 80 and 90 degree weather in about 5 layers of clothing. It was a great and horrible experience all at the same time. I got paid total crap, so just know that the high prices do not go towards the actors salaries!

    1. That is funny, because I dabble in acting here and there, nothing big, and in the spring and early summer I get all these notifications from them that they are looking for actors to perform at the faire.
      As I said it is a corporation, I am sure no one is actually making any money except for them.

  12. Thanks for sharing your experience at this NY renaissance faire. There is a very popular Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire and it tends to be a money suck as well. Though going there at least once a year with the kiddos is so much fun. =)

  13. You are lucky to have so many Renaissance Faires near you. This one seems pretty fun.

  14. Renaissance Faires are so much fun! Like most people. I always make it a point to watch the jousting. You got to more faires this year than I have in my life! Looking forward to Halloween tales.

  15. The area you sent to is beautiful. I can only image what it would be like in the fall. We usually go to Lake Placid because there is nothing more beautiful than the reflection of the leaves on the water. Might take a look at this area

  16. Bring lots of money is about the best advice you can give to someone planning to attend the New York Renaissance Faire. I went in September and it was very crowded. One of the things I enjoyed was the falconry demonstration. Unfortunately it started pouring by mid-afternoon and I ended up leaving before seeing the jousting.