Crowds in costume attended this weekend's renaissance festival, which included actors performing a story throughout the two-day event. (Elizabeth Whitten/CBC)
This weekend the Mount Pearl Renaissance Festival was back for a second year in a row. Producer Darren Hann plans for this step back in time to become a regular summer event that mixes fantasy and history.
There were 65 vendors in attendance, making up dozens of tents and tables that took over the Paradise Park field. They carried things like homemade crafts, food, leatherwork, soaps and more.
"A lot of people come dressed up in characters and it gives them a way to come in and show off their costume and actually come and be that character for today," Hann said.
He added he's been addressed by knights, queens and fairies all in-character.
Darren Hann says vendors are already eager to sign up for next year's renaissance festival. (Elizabeth Whitten/CBC)
Besides people selling handcrafted goods, he said there are also organizations like live action role players performing a story throughout the weekend, and demonstrations from the Terra Nova School of Swords.
"There is something for everyone here this weekend. There's also a lot of family games. It's a real family focused event," said Hann.
At last year's festival, he said they tallied approximately 1,700 people in attendance. This year they are poised to exceed that, adding that on Saturday alone there were 800 visitors.
"So we were well over our halfway mark yesterday already," said Hann.
He hopes this becomes a regular festival, much like Sci-Fi on The Rock, which he also helped found. Already, some of this year's vendors have approached him to sign on for next year's festival.
Fantasy and history meet
Besides storytelling and live performances of a royal family drama, fencers also showed off their skills. As well, festival goers had the chance to try their hand — and eye coordination — at archery.
People could get their fortune read at several tents and browse clothing shops, crafts shops and an armoury.
Throughout the day, people would be placed in the stocks and people would gather and yell "Shame." (Elizabeth Whitten/CBC)
This was Krista Elliott's second year at the festival. She operates St. John's Soap Works and Curious Collections, which is her taxidermy and natural collection business.
"The vendors are not usual vendors that you usually see on regular markets, so it's so nice to see that variety," said Elliott.
As for her creations — which included taxidermied mice poised in various spots, like in teacups, on a mound of teeth and one with a feather boa — she said she's often commissioned to make them.
She grew up in a hunting and fishing family, so she has been foraging for years. She often spends a lot of time outdoors, hiking, camping and visiting abandoned communities. That's when she finds flora and fauna she can make into art.
Krista Elliott called this creation "the tooth fairy". (Elizabeth Whitten/CBC)
"I really like to highlight sustainability and educate on the history of Newfoundland and Labrador," said Elliott. "It's just a fun way to do that."
Reaching audience with the past
At the other end of the field the Colony of Avalon Foundation, an active archaeological site and museum, was also present with its own tent.
Kate Pitcher is the executive director with the Colony of Avalon.
"We have a bunch of 17th century games set up. We've got some books. We have a bunch of reproduction artifacts also for sale," she said.
Colony of the Avalon's Kate Pitcher says the Renaissance Festival is a great way to reach people. (Elizabeth Whitten/CBC)
It's the Colony of Avalon's second year at the festival, she said, adding that the first year went very well.
"We got a lot of interest in our dig programs and our 17th century kitchen. So this has been a really great opportunity for us," said Pitcher.
For her, being at the Renaissance Festival is a way to reach newer audiences who might not have heard about their organization or active archaeological site.
"This is the perfect spot to be able to advertise that."
Pitcher said it was interesting to be able to have the idea of the Renaissance historical period and add in fantasy.
"Because it opens it up to a wider audience," she said. "As long as you keep some stuff historically accurate, it's just for the fun of it."