|Sterling Renaissance Festival|
Crest above the entrance of the Sterling Renaissance Festival
|Dates||July - August|
|Location(s)||Sterling, New York|
Sterling Renaissance Festival is a Renaissance Festival that operates in Sterling, New York. It runs for seven consecutive weekends through July and August. The Festival was founded in 1976 by Dennis Ouellette, Sr., and later owned and operated by Gerald and Virginia Young . The festival was purchased in 2008 by Doug Waterbury.
The setting is the year 1585 in the fictional village of Warwick, which rambles across a wooded hillside and includes many permanent structures (some two-story) on the occasion of their annual festival. Queen Elizabeth is in attendance in the company of the members of her court, including various real-life figures, such as Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake. These ladies and gentlemen of the court perform set pieces, such as the human chess match and Tea with the Queen, in addition to interacting with patrons. The entirety of village life is represented by the cast, known as the Wyldewood Players (alternatively, the Bless-the-Mark Players). The cast of costumed actors portray all kinds of villagers; gypsies, pirates, washer-wenches and others. They stroll the grounds, improvising scenarios to entertain the patrons.
Costumed entertainers include Renaissance musicians, bagpipers, illusionists, jugglers, sword-swallowers fortune-tellers, and comedy acts. Twice daily the performers join together in a grand processional through the Festival grounds, and the Festival closes each evening with a pub sing in which everyone is encouraged to sing along.
At the base of the west-facing hillside is the jousting field. Here, full-contact jousting takes place, as well as displays of archery and (on Highland weekend) Highland games. In addition, patrons can ride the war-horses of the jousters for a small fee.
Like most Faires, the Sterling Renaissance Festival has a large number of artisans and craftspeople, such as glass-blowers, blacksmiths, bookbinders, and potters. Other vendors include leather and costuming shops, weapon-crafters, and jewelry shops.
There are also a number of games of skill available for an additional fee, such as archery, axe-throwing, "Tomato Justice" (where participants pelt a man with ripe tomatoes), and the "Pillow Fyte." Several human-powered rides are available.
Various foods are available, including such Faire staples as turkey legs and shish-kabobs, but also including vegetarian items like portobello mushroom sandwiches and fresh fruit. The Rose & Crown Tavern (renamed in 2010 from the "Bad Dog Tavern") serves alcohol, including mead, and has a selection of meat pies, bacon-wrapped scallops, and other foods. In the past, the Tavern has featured live entertainment.
In 2008, for the first time, peace-tied period weapons were permitted.
Each weekend has a formal theme that will often inform the storyline acted out by the townsfolk. Themes for 2016 were:
Past themes include "Romance Weekend".
The Sterling Renaissance Festival was purchased in early 2008 by Doug Waterbury, who invested $2 million in the business. Several new stages were constructed and existing ones refurbished, and the number of performers was boosted for the 2008 season. Waterbury plans to use the site for additional events, and install a larger jousting theater which could also be used for outdoor concerts.
Much has changed at the Renaissance Festival over the 29 years it has been open to the public, except for the ownership. Gerald and Virginia Young remain the constant force behind the success of the Festival and will open the Festival doors for yet another season on Saturday, July 2nd