Faerie and knights return with the Renaissance Faire

  • Shelli Buttons performs aerial silk act the Massachusetts Renaissance Faire in 2018. She will be performing again at the faire Aug. 7 and 8 at the Cummington Fairgrounds. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • The Knights of Lord Talbot battle in a contest of arms at the Massachusetts Renaissance Faire in 2019. They will be performing again at the faire Aug. 7 and 8 at the Cummington Fairgrounds. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • David Anthony, The Foxy Bard, performs at the Massachusetts Renaissance Faire in 2019. He will be performing again at the faire Aug. 7 and 8. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • A jouster with Stormy Knights drives his lance into the ground at the Massachusetts Renaissance Faire CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 8/3/2021 8:47:21 PM

CUMMINGTON — After a year’s absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Massachusetts Renaissance Faire will return to the Cummington Fairgrounds this weekend.

“It’s just exciting to be back and live,” said Luke Marshall, public relations manager for the fair.

Saturday’s all-ages faire will take place from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. while Sunday’s all-ages faire will take place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Market After Dark, which is for faire-goers 18 and over, will take place from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday.

Marshall noted that last year a virtual fair was held, but said that “nothing beats a live show.”

“Being there really brings you in,” he said.

The premise of the Massachusetts Renaissance Faire is that each year the barrier between the faerie world and our world grows thin at faire time, allowing the faeries to cross over.

“The courts gather at the festival and hold revelries and allow humans to join in,” Marshall said.

The four faerie courts, winter, spring, summer and fall, are all represented by actors who perform as part of a full story at the faire. This year’s story is “Merlin and the Missing Memories.”

“It will play through each day,” said Marshall, the production’s stage manager.

As such, you only have to go to the faire for one day to get the entire production.

“I’m extremely excited about this year’s production,” Marshall said. “All of our cast has put in so much hard work.”

The Massachusetts Renaissance Faire was started in 2015 under the name the Market of the Moons, and Marshall said that many of the cast members have been with the faire since it started. He also said that the cast members are great with kids.

“For the kids it’s a magical experience,” Marshall said.

Seana Lamothe has played the faerie Mustardseed since the Renaissance Faire has been run under its current name. Mustard Seed is an advisor to Queen Titania, who heads the summer court.

“She’s not afraid to tell it like it is,” Lamothe said. “She’s often singing crazy songs and dancing around.”

Lamothe said the faire gives her a lot of freedom as an actor to improvise all day long. A schoolteacher in her normal life, she said she likes to see the wonder in the eyes of kids when they get to see knights and faeries.

One iconic element of Renaissance faires is jousting, and attendees will get to watch jousting by the Stormy Knights.

“You can’t get a joust anywhere except at a Renaissance faire,” Marshall said.

For those looking to explore history, Marshall suggests checking out the encampment of the Knights of Lord Talbot, a group of 100 Years War re-enactors. The knights will be cooking over an open fire at their encampment, and will also be giving armored combat demonstrations at the faire.

On the musical side of things, The Foxy Bard, a troubadour who can sing in multiple languages, will be playing, as will the Roving Corsairs, a “sky pirate band.”

Other entertainment will include the storytelling of the Skeleton Crew Theater, the comedic sword fighting of Wit and Steele, and magician Mike OJ.

A mead competition is being judged at this year’s faire, featuring more than 40 entries of home-brewed mead evaluated by a certified panel.

The public won’t be able to taste the competition mead, but the faire is selling beer, wine and mead, as well as food such as hot dogs and hamburgers.

“And of course, turkey legs,” Marshall said.

The faire will feature a number of vendors, including Jullie Pudem Scanlon, whose business is called Lame Horse Creations after her grandparents’ farm. She sells clothing that she describes as the less-expensive version of historically accurate, as well as stuffed animals.

“I make everything by hand,” Scanlon said.

Scanlon has been vending at the faire since 2017, and she described it as one of her favorites. “I like the atmosphere,” she said. “It’s a very homey kind of feel.”

After February 2020 she did no other events last year because of the pandemic.

“I’ve missed my family,” Scanlon said. “The patrons have been amazing.”

Tickets for the faire are $20 for an adult one-day pass and $37 for an adult two-day pass, $10 for a child one-day pass for children 6 to 15, and $19 for child’s two-day pass. Children 5 and under are free and seniors and veterans are $17 a day.

While the daytime fair is a family affair, the Market After Dark only admits people 18 and older.

Marshall described the performances at the Market after Dark as “slightly more risque” and noted that it features both a kilt and a cleavage contest, which anyone can sign up for “as long as you’re wearing a kilt or have cleavage.”

Marshall said the faire has had strong pre-sales of tickets. “It looks like people are ready to get out of the house,” Marshall said.

Marshall also said that the faire is abiding by all CDC, state and local mandates around COVID-19.

“We don’t want to re-enact the black plague,” he said.




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