|Minnesota Renaissance Festival|
Costumed participants at the 2007 Minnesota Renaissance Festival
|Dates||August - September|
The Minnesota Renaissance Festival is a Renaissance fair, an interactive outdoor event which focuses on recreating the look and feel of a fictional 16th Century "England-like" fantasy kingdom. It operates during weekends from mid-August until the final week in September on a site near the Minnesota River in Shakopee, a suburb of the Twin Cities.
The Minnesota Renaissance Festival began in September 1971 on a 22-acre (89,000 m2) field in Jonathan, Minnesota. More than 25,000 people visited the two weekend grand opening of the festival then named "A Celebration of Nature, Art, and Life!" It was later moved to its current site in Shakopee where it continues as one of the oldest and largest Renaissance fairs in the United States. It has played host to the early careers of such national acts as the magicians Penn & Teller and The Flying Karamazov Brothers juggling troupe, and it currently hosts acts such as Zilch the Torysteller, Twig the Fairy, Puke and Snot, Johnny Phoenix, The Tortuga Twins, The Danger Committee and Vilification Tennis. On August 19, 1975, Penn & Teller did their first show together at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival.Jason Mraz also worked as a pickle boy early in his performance career.
The festival features over 700 entertainers, 275 crafters, and 120 food booths.
The Minnesota Renaissance Festival is one of several such events in the United States owned and operated by Mid-America Festivals.
Because the land on which the festival was built is leased, in 2014 Mid-America Festivals announced that 2016 would likely be the last season in its current location. The lease contained a clause in which the owners could terminate the lease at any time. In 2016 Mid America Festivals announced the lease term would expire in 2019. Currently, several sites are under consideration, including properties in other parts of Scott County and near Belle Plaine, Minnesota.
The Minnesota Renaissance Festival provides free parking at its site in Shakopee, MN, and directions from its website. Parking is available in two parking lots accessible by a single dirt road crossing active train tracks onto its 400 acre campus Limited access to and from the festival site has led to significant transportation issues including delays as long as two hours either entering or leaving the fairgrounds. Traffic problems have created significant backups and delays along Minnesota Highway 169 with traffic being identified as the number one issue.
In the 1980s, the Minnesota Transportation Museum provided train trips to the Renaissance Festival using Northern Pacific 328. These trains used Chicago & North Western Railway tracks between Minneapolis and Merriam Junction, which is located next to the Renaissance Festival grounds. The rail line was severed between Hopkins and Chaska in 1991.