I started at a young age with my grandmother taking me. Then as I got older my friends and I would go up once or twice a year. We typically had very hodgepodge garb. I started going more consistently in 2010 when I met my wife there. Been a season pass holder ever since. The friends and faire family I have gained always makes me feel at home when I walk through the gate. I stopped the parade 7 years ago to propose to my wife. And 2 years ago I was crowned the Playtron Pirate King thanks to our lovely queen. Now I can’t wait to see the joy in my 3 year old daughter’s eyes when we walk through this weekend.”Andrew Kessler
This is a story you hear all the time at the Ohio Renaissance Festival. The magic of the faire is renewed and you feel a call to the lanes. A tale of nostalgia from childhood returns when you grow up and bring your own children to experience it for themselves. After 30 years, ORF is a multi-generational institution of Ohio, welcoming people of all ages and types into its village for 9 weekends of unparalleled delight!
The Queens’ Progress Is About To Begin!
The festival takes place during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in the year 1572 during the Queen’s summer progress. Elizabeth was immensely fond of her holidays from the city, and this was a rare opportunity for the actual subjects she ruled to see her. She was said to love the pageantry of even the poorest of her subjects and had a way of talking to people which endeared her to them. The Ohio Renaissance Festival takes place during the Queen’s ‘progress’ into the countryside as the village of Willy-Nilly prepares to welcome her with a grand festival!
But the festival never goes quite as planned! There is always something amiss in the village and the people of Willy-Nilly must work to resolve the issue before the end of the day. This results in a tale in four acts, displayed for the viewing pleasure of our guests at:
Follow the Story of the Faire Day
- Opening Gate: 10:30 a.m. at the Village Gate
- Pirate Stunt Show: 11:15 a.m/1:30 p.m. at the Shipwreck Stage
- Chess match: 3:30 Human at the Chess Match Field
- Closing Gate: 6:00 p.m. at the Village Gate
Attending each show will give you a different chapter of the story and let you become a part of the action for yourself. The best part? The story changes every year, bringing in new comedy, drama, intrigue, and fun for people to enjoy. One of the first things I do every year is to watch the story play out on opening weekend, and I have intentionally kept myself in the dark as to what the 2019 story is about so I can enjoy it firsthand!
New and Improved Locations This Season
Tower of London: I know the Tower of London – featuring historical crime and punishment devices – was badly damaged during a storm earlier this summer. But it looks like it has been built back up and even improved upon! So I’m looking forward to getting a peek in there and see what’s changed for myself. The previous incarnation was always good for some morbid fun and my inner goth was delighted every time I visited.
The Shipwreck Stage: The stage has been built up, providing more shade and seating for people watching the performances. This makes for a comfortable place to relax, grab a drink, and get out of the sun for a while. It’s also close to the 1572 Roadhouse Bar-B-Q, so don’t be surprised if your stomach starts rumbling for some ribs while you relax.
The Aleing Knight Pub: The pub has been expanded to include a new roof, a bigger stage, and more seating! This is one of the most popular pubs at faire, so this addition is a welcome one. You can pretty much camp out here for an entire festival day and still get a kick out of everything you’ll see and do.
The Dirty Duchess: ORF ‘s popular venue for ‘mature’ entertainment has been given some fresh accommodations! The Dirty Duchess now is enclosed and has a roof which will be a welcome respite on hot days! While Pub Sing remains a favorite of mine, the Dirty Duchess has won me over and I love visiting it at least a few times every year for the more R-rated shows. If you’ve never heard the Sirens before, they are amazing and this year’s choir is especially good.
The ORFans Lounge: The lounge has moved, putting it closer to the Chess match and the Aleing Knight Pub. ORFans get their own special area to relax and congregate, which is all the more perfect as I’ll be dropping by to ask them about their favorite shows, food, and experiences from this year’s festival! This is an amazing group of people, and you can join in with them too if you haven’t done so already!
And as always, there are new booths and new additions all over the grounds! I saw people working on new buildings and the groundskeepers rushing about even just last week. Of course, this means that there will be surprises around every corner and new things to be experienced. I don’t think it’s possible to overstate how happy it makes me to see people so devoted to making ORF a landmark festival!
We Remember Seasons Past As a New Season Begins
With 30 years under their belt, it’s exciting to see how much the Ohio Renaissance Festival has grown! The people who return after even a small absence are shocked to see how much it has changed and what new things have been added. It has become an impressive festival nestled in Warren County, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year both new and returning.
A First-Faire Memory
This was October 2015 and I would’ve been 16 at the time. I had just transferred to a new HS in August and became fast friends with Alison, the girl on the right. I just love everything about faire. It’s my happy place and I can just relax and be myself. I’ve made some amazing friends there and that’s honestly my favorite part about it. Last year I also started bringing friends who had never gone before and it’s so much fun to watch someone experience it for the first time!”
Many people first came to ORF as children. Maybe it was a school field trip or maybe their parents wanted to do something over the long Labor Day weekend. So there is a strong sense of nostalgia to coming back here every year. I’ve often said that as adults we are told to put away things like playtime and our imagination in favor of the responsibility expected of us. But ORF, and ren faires in general, are an opportunity to open up the toy box once more and delight in a love of playing dress-up and pretend, allowing ourselves to express that fundamental human need for self-expression.
Returning year after year fosters a sense of community, and returning to your home faire brings you a special connection with people you know and love. There is a kind of ‘faire family’ that exists of the people you see each season, and after 30 years ORF has a truly gargantuan faire family! You may only see one another 9 weekends a year, but it’s like a reunion you actually look forward to!
My first year of the Ohio Renaissance Festival was way back in 2010! I had to do some deep digging through my archives to find this photo! But on the way I found dozens of others of my time on cast and as a playtron. I have to admit, I ended up getting a little teary-eyed seeing all the amazing times I’ve had over the past nine years. It makes me look forward to this anniversary even more!
New Memories Begin This Weekend!
Labor Day Weekend is mere hours away by now, which means there is a flurry of activity happening behind the scenes. People are adding final embellishments to their garb and prepping their overnight bags. Right now there are people on site ensuring everything is ready to invite you into this strange and unusual world. There is a lot of excitement among the cast, all of whom have been putting their utmost into this year’s story.
This huge 3-day weekend is the best possible way to being the season! From Saturday through Monday you can enjoy every corner of Willy-Nilly and breathe in that sweet faire dirt.
Faire Dirt – a combination of dust, glitter, and sunscreen that will adhere itself to your skin every weekend of faire.
You must remember to take care of yourself during the weekend! We’ve got a few blog posts for first-timers, including How To Survive and 10 Things To Know posts. But keep in mind that if you live a little ways away, you may want to book a hotel! The ORF website has options for hotels that provide a ticket package if you wanna stay close for the next day’s events. Believe me, this is well worth it, especially if you’d like to grab a shower and sleep in a comfortable, air-conditioned room.
I know you want to soak up all the enjoyment you can! I’ve been waiting just as long for the 2019 season to start. But remember to pace yourself! 3 days is a lot longer than you think. This is a lot easier if you have a season pass. If you miss something you wanted to see this weekend, you can always come back again. Even so, plan things out a bit. I know for sure I wanna hit the main storyline plays and some of my favorites like the Mudde Show, the Kamikaze Fireflies, and the Washer Wenches. You can hit up the Festival Grounds Map on the website for times and stages while you’re on-site!
There is only a little while longer and it feels like there is still so much to do! I have garb to lay out, boots to polish, batteries to charge, sewing to finish, a mug to pick up from Viking Hoard, and a new belt to grab from Brown Cow. But even amid all this chaos, I am filled with exuberance and glee! Just to arrive and feel my feet crunching on the gravel sends a happy shudder through my spine. I look forward to seeing all of you during the festival, to seeing old friends and making a few new ones!
And hey! If you read the blog, come over and say hi! I’d love to get to know you better! If this is your first time at ORF, come and tell me what you think. I’ll be there all season long!
Buy Your Tickets Today! Remember, opening weekend is buy one adult get one free!
Patrons Share Photos From Their First Faire
A Look Back At The Grounds A Decade Ago
These photos taken by Beth Funk in 2009 are sure to hit you right in the nostalgia… as well as prove how far the faire has come in just the past 10 years!