Step back into a 16th Century festival in Shrewsbury County, England at the 20th Annual Siouxland Renaissance Festival on June 5-6 at W.H. Lyon Fairgrounds.
And it all begins at 10 a.m. during the Opening of the Gates Ceremony as an event is introduced and a quest to guide you into the festival.
“As you come in, you’re going through a tunnel of people who are playing instruments, juggling, and doing their thing as you’re coming to the gate,” said Kari Blom, Siouxland Renaissance Association development committee chair.
Blom says spectacle is a can’t-miss experience that ignites the immersion to come. Here are some of the acts that brought the festival to life in past years.
Be sure to stroll the Mythical Garden of Wondrous Creatures to see various creatures of myth.
“We have fairies, minotaurs, fawns, mermaids, and dragons,” said Blom.
Lyrique the Mermaid will be present in all of her scaly glory despite not being able to attend, like everyone else, during 2020.
But it doesn’t end there.
The Wyvern Armored Combat League will battle with medieval weapons and provide a learning experience while at it.
“They will be fully armored and they will fight with each other,” said Blom. “Then they will demonstrate that this guy’s armor is from this century, and this is the weapon he’s using.”
The crowd can get involved after, wielding plastic weapons and learning in a fitness-class-esque format.
As a volunteer, committing roughly three hours of time grants access to the rest of the festival day to enjoy at no cost.
Across the festival grounds, each of the eight stages of entertainment may have acts at any given time.
Acts include Four Pints Shy, Bathos the Muse, the Lightning Juggler, the Pizpor Show and more.
Blom says not to be afraid of missing anything when two events conflict.
“The one act will be at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. or something like that. The stages are full of activity throughout the day,” she explained.
One of the main events that Blom says draws folks in is the jousting.
Even kiddos won’t be left out. From the Children’s Realm to the scavenger hunt and Mustafa Ali, a man who plays about 60 instruments, there’s always something for them to do.
The festival is an event for all ages.
“We always have a scavenger hunt for the children. So they have to look for a little green dragon on a flag in numerous places around. They have to get a different color bead at each stop and so then at the end of the scavenger hunt, they get to pick out prizes.” -Kari Blom
“We’ll have blacksmiths on site, and they’ll show the kids and adults how they make things,” said Blom. “We’ll have woodworkers, basket weavers, all sorts of learning activities that you not only watch but that you can participate in, too.”
As for the adults, they can find time away from the kids in the pub tent. Inside, there will be mead, beer, wine, and other beverages to enjoy while experiencing the adult-only entertainment.
To get the full experience, she recommends festival goers adorn renaissance-style garments.
“It makes you feel like you’re part of the festival,” said Blom. “You take time to dress up just like you would at Halloween to pick out a costume, what you want to be, and what you want to do. You can get as involved as you want, but if you want to just come in jeans and a t-shirt, you can do that, too.”
She says you can even pick up impromptu renaissance garb and costumes from clothing vendors if you don’t have anything but still want to feel like part of the experience. The vendor camp will offer plenty of old-school clothing to fit anyone’s fancy.
When the munchies ultimately arrive, swing by the food trucks to see which ones are available that day. Food around the festival varies from turkey legs to corn on the cob, stir fry, crepes, and even cotton candy.
But that’s not all the vendors carry, expect to find an expansive selection of fine artisan products.
“You’re going to find unique vendors from people who make cups to people who make shoes, leather working, pottery, and a lot of other handmade items,” explained Blom.
Everybody working the festival is a volunteer. Anyone can join the pack with a visit to the website, and Blom encourages giving it a shot.
Blom said, “We enjoy doing this because we like to see the enjoyment people have when they come to festival and all of the different experiences they can have, whether it’s learning, having good food to eat, bringing your friends and family for so long.”