This weekend is the 2nd Annual Nottingham Festival (FB). For those not familiar with the Nottingham Festival, it is an attempt by Faire Folks in Ventura County (especially the folks behind Actors Rep of Simi Valley) to bring back the feel of the Renaissance Faires as they existed in the days when the Faire first began at Paramount Ranch in Ventura. They did a Kickstarter about 2 years ago with plans to bring back a multi-weekend faire. They haven’t gotten to that point yet, but they did bring back a one-weekend faire last year, and another one-weekend faire this year.
Last year’s Faire had its problems. There were loads of logistic problems: the Faire opening and entry was a clusterf*k, and the layout was less than ideal. I’m pleased to say that this year the problems were gone. There were no long lines at entry; the only problem was finding the Kickstarter table for those of us that got passes this year. The opening of the Faire entertainment was good, and modulo the iPad ticket code scanners occasionally acting up, entry was a breeze.
The layout of the Faire was also much much improved. Last year, the food vendors were in this narrow corridor that was a chokepoint. This year, the food vendors were moved to the middle of the main area, where there was space for lines to form without crowding. The narrow corridor was turned into an additional vendor space. The food choices were good, although some of the ran out of food early (especially the meat pies and the cookie vendor). Hopefully that has been corrected today; they should have more food next year.
Relocating the food also meant relocating the Masters Area. Unlike what RenFaire has become, Nottingham exists for a love of history. They have a Master’s Pavillion where famous historical masters speak about their expertise. We heard an interesting talk from Michaelanglo, for example. The new location was very good.
The vendors formed an interesting mix, but more are needed. There were quite a few clothing vendors (including Hearts Delight), some leather vendors, one glassware vendor, numerous jewelry vendors, and a few woodcraft items. There were no wand vendors or pottery vendors. Hopefully, as Nottingham grows and the word spreads about it, the vendor choice will grow.
Entertainment was good: there were a variety of shows, and it looks like that variety was growing. We saw the Country Garden Dancers and Wren of Iniquity; I believe Nicole’s former group, the Parrot Cove Morris, was also performing. In the shows, I also ran into a friend from college days (Mike Urban) that I hadn’t seen in years — an unexpected boon!
One of the great things about Nottingham is that it is small. It isn’t the gigantic thing that Southern has become — it is managable. Further, it hasn’t become wacky. We did our usual looking for WTF costumes. There were precious few — a couple of iridescent fairy wings, barbarians in metal bras. But the outlandish just wasn’t there — there were no Jack Sparrows; there were no Camelot style costumes. This made things much enjoyable.
Nottingham is growing right, and I look forward to attending next year. They’ve also been good to their Kickstarter supporters — we’ve actually gotten tickets included two years in a row, although this year we didn’t learn about it until after I had bought two tickets. That’s OK — we just brought two friends with us and introduced them to the faire!
P.S.: This year … no blisters. Thank you, Five Fingers.