Bay City News Foundation
HOLLISTER, CA — Bay Area folk can practice ax throwing, see Shakespearean comedy, don period costume and otherwise enjoy a trip back to Elizabethan times at Hollister’s Northern California Renaissance Faire, held every weekend through October 23.
The event, held in a ravine by Casa de Fruta, recreates a village during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Participants are encouraged to dress for the subject, but even if you’re not prepared to tie a corset or speak Old English, there should be more than enough to keep you amused. Entertainment includes live music, tournaments, dancing and refreshments.
Speaking of refreshments, “I don’t eat fire to impress the crowd. I just like the taste of the kerosene,” said Brian Howard, one of the carnival’s entertainers. The Los Angeles native isn’t just a fire eater, he’s also an impromptu comedian who brings a whole new dimension to the concept of multitasking.
The Faire shows also include an abridged version of Twelfth Night, one of the world’s first romantic comedies. Written by William Shakespeare, it’s packed with slapstick and various shenanigans from characters with names like Toby Belch and Andrew Aguecheek.
According to the organizers, pirates will invade the event next weekend, although the International Talk Like a Pirate Day took place last Monday. Guests are encouraged to dress up as pirates and there will be a pirate costume contest for children under 7 years old. Children under 12 have free entry to the fair; Adult admission is $35.
Tournaments have long been one of the most popular activities at the carnival, with what organizers refer to as full contact tournaments “to entertain the queen”. As well as watching others risk life and limb, there are many hands-on activities including ax throwing, archery and knife throwing.
If you work up an appetite while roaming the approximately 11-acre canyon, there are plenty of foods to choose from, including turkey drumsticks, tri-tip sandwiches, and grilled artichokes.
The origins of popular events are often disputed, but many sources report that the California Renaissance Faire began in 1963 in Southern California’s Agoura Hills. The event also has considerable history in Northern California. According to numerous media reports, the Northern Californian version began in 1967 in Marin County in China Camp State Park.
This year’s Faire opened last weekend and runs until October 23 on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Tickets must be purchased online at norcalrenfaire.com.
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