Today we attended the Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire (now through May 20, weekends only) in Irwindale, CA, in the Santa Fe Recreation (dam) Area.
CORRECTIONS: (of errors on this post) "NEXT WEEKEND" IS APRIL 14 & 15, not (as I write this) April 21 & 22. On the 14 & 15, kids are free with coupon and the group London Broil will appear on stage.
On April 21 & 22, two of the original members of The Reduced Shakespeare Company will reprise their hilarious, approximately 30-minute version of Hamlet. (Note: They'll need a third cast member to faithfully recreate the act.)
Moonie--voted the best non-musical ren fair entertainer in 2011 by Ren Fair magazine. He is the biggest reason to attend the fair. We also loved Broon as a solo act and in his end of the day show with Moonie. Unlike last year, this year's fair also has another act that is in Moonie & Broon's league: a juggling/comedy trio: London Broil. Unfortunately next weekend will be the second and last weekend for London Broil, so next weekend (April 21 or 22) would be good days to visit. (Also, on April 14 & 15, kids are free with a coupon you can print out from the Original Renaissance Pleasure Faire's website. Warning: as of Tuesday, April 10, 2 out of 3 weather websites predict rain for Saturday & the other predicts rain for both Sat. & Sun. The theaters are outdoor, so rain at the Ren Fair would be more disruptive than rain at Disneyland, though rain before a visit would reduce the awful dust that damages this fair's location.) The kids stage had Merlin the Magician who put on a good show for younger kids. And the Magnificent Humble Boys aren't bad. if you go after this coming weekend, I suggest some Google research via the fair's schedule of entertainers and seeing if they were in the Ren Fair's list of the best ref fair entertainers for 2011. That's how we discovered the Moonie the Magnificent last year.
The food is overpriced (beer is $8.50 a cup), so I would try to sneak in as much food and water as possible in a backpack. If you buy their food, I recommend the "Steak on a Stick," the sherbet packed in real fruits shells/slkins/peels, and the chopped apples covered in melted toffee, or other toppings. Restrooms on the ground are mostly port-a-potties--so that's kind of nasty, with few sinks nearby (with no soap nor ways to dry hands when I was there.) And the traffic exiting the parking lot and the dam area (there is no "M" in this "dam"), couldn't have been much worse. It made us appreciate that we have never been in a traffic jam leaving Disneyland's parking lot.
We avoided all of the many games, the many cool shops, and the jousting--because that show disappointed us last year. My daughter had a nice long conversation with a knight about his outfit and enjoyed the rides she rode. The Faire is celebrating it's 50th anniversary, but you would hardly know it since they barely mention it anywhere.
This location is dusty, so the faire should try for new grounds. Don't go on a hot, windy day. (I wonder if they could get the Irwindale Fire Dept. to spray the road inside the park on Thursday before the fair on weeks when it doesn't rain.)
Still, I give this fair an enthusiastic thumbs up. Tickets are on sale (I think for $21 for adults) at Walgreens, and there is a coupon on Faire's website for $2.50 off. If you get on their emailing list they might offer other discounts later.