The 16th annual Des Moines Renaissance Faire opens this afternoon as a way to celebrate the end of the “plague” of COVID-19.
Festival director Gregory Schmidt says they’re expecting several thousand visitors for the three-day event and safety is still on everyone’s mind, especially in the tent village where retailers will be selling a variety of handmade leather goods, pottery, jewelry, medieval weapons, and more.
“Some of them will require a facemask if their tent gets too full of shoppers,” Schmidt says. “We don’t require facemasks. We encourage that but don’t require that for entering. We have sanitizers everywhere and we have a huge space. We’re dealing with almost 50 acres.”
The festival’s producers have designed the faire to be a safe, open-air experience, especially for families and kids. “Even people who interact with children are going to be 10 or 12 feet away, storytellers and people blowing bubbles,” Schmidt says. “We are not having face painting, that’s just too close.”
Visitors don’t need to come in costume but Schmidt says it’s fun when everyone dresses up — and there will be costume contests for kids and adults. More than 100 stage shows by unique touring performers will be offered through the weekend while the costumed village characters will be interacting with the public and hosting a dozen different photo op settings.
“One of our performing groups, the Guardians of the Black Forest from all over Iowa, there’s 30 of them and then there’s Warwick, from Des Moines, a history reenactment event, there’s 25 or 30 of them,” Schmidt says. “We have about 250 people, serious historic reenactors, and then we have fictional, fun characters for comedic purposes.” There’s a children’s faerie realm, a production of “Romeo & Juliet,” several outdoor living history museums, games of skill, a carousel, craft demonstrations, treasure hunts, and an expanded food court with a beer garden.