Faire gives me the freedom to be me. I love to dress up and be someone else for the day. It takes me out of my mundane day to day and into a world of magic and adventure. It’s a community of people like me who are such a major support system and family.”

Halee Ewing

I see it every year; that poor person who got talked into coming by his family or friends and walked in the gate with no idea of what they were getting themselves into. It seems incomprehensible from a rennie’s perspective that there could be people out there who have never set foot on faire grounds before. After all, it’s so much a part of our lives that we can’t remember a time when we didn’t go. And yet every season I see a few of in the crowd who stand in stunned amazement at the cacophony of color and sound that lights up the Ohio Renaissance Festival.

I love these people. I love talking to them, helping them find what they’re looking for or suggesting some of my favorite acts. I love the enthusiasm that comes when they find out how much there is to see and do. I love it when I see them again and again, despite their insistence that they were ‘only going to come once’ and now have a season pass.

But most importantly I love the question; “Why do you do it?”

It’s an important thing to ask ourselves now and again. Why do we keep doing this? From the boothies to the playtrons, why do we make this decision every year? You might as well ask why Ohio State football fans go to every game! For us it encompasses many things; a yearly family reunion, a chance to display our period costume, a chance to revel in handcrafted artistry, or the opportunity to catch live performances from a myriad of acts.

Going deeper, I think there is a longing in America for a sense of community. We’re hungry for people in our lives who represent healthy relationships we can lean on in time of strife. It’s often been said that making friends as adults is much more difficult than it was when we were children. We have more demands on our time and that can make socializing less of a priority in our day to day lives. In the faire, we are removed from the rat race of the modern-day, providing us with the mental and physical distance we need to open up and form new connections with people. At faire, you have an ocean of possibility, and the more you participate the more likely it is you’ll find yourself swimming in a new group.

J.W. Max Mc Sayles

For me, I’ve enjoyed swashbucklers since childhood. I imagined myself to be Robin Hood, Arthur, or D’artagian. Now, I get to create my own character in the mold of those great heroes!”

J.W. Max Mc Sayles.

J.W. touches on an important element of the ren faire that often goes overlooked. Our need to indulge in play. As adults, we believe ourselves to be removed from this necessity. We think that play is a thing of our past and that we now belong to the confines of maturity and adulthood. This is true. We all have lives to lead and jobs to do in our regular lives. But with that responsibility comes a need to decompress. Faire allows for uninhibited self-expression and a greater sense of joy. As geek culture becomes more synonymous with popular culture, we continue to see a rise in fantasy/sci-fi media. Faire offers up a chance to explore your inner cosplayer, from Captain America to Outlander.

Joshua Driscoll, man of many characters!

I love faire and all it encompasses – faire is a safe haven for me and many others! You can be whoever you want to be – one day I am a barbarian – then a pirate – then a bearded lady. It’s a family and a home where acceptance, love, and friendship are top priority. I’ve met some very influential people in my life through faire and am beyond grateful to have them!”

Joshua Driscoll

It’s often said that even a bad day at faire is still a good day by any standard. People still turn out in miserable weather conditions because if ORF is open, they just can’t imagine being anywhere else! Why would people make that choice if the Ohio Renaissance Festival didn’t mean something so much more than just playing dress-up and eating turkey legs? Like so many things at ORF it has to be experienced to be fully understood.

feature image: Halee Ewing