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Letters 09-29-2014

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Home · Articles · News · Features · Renaissance Festival
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Renaissance Festival

Rick Coates - June 2nd, 2008
Ever wanted to travel in time? Maybe escape the $4-plus per gallon gas or the overanalysis of the presidential election? How about just breaking away from the everyday stresses of life? Then Castle Farms has just that opportunity for you this weekend with its first Charlevoix Renaissance Festival.
“That is exactly what we are trying to accomplish by mixing a little bit of fantasy, magic and entertainment to create an environment that allows a person to escape the stresses of everyday life,” said Betsy Deneau of SLRS Productions Inc., who is producing the weekend event. “Regardless of your age, we will have something for you. This is a very family friendly event that will be filled with fun and frolic.”
Renaissance festivals, or faires, have been growing rapidly in recent years in North America. While reenactments have been a part of culture since the inception of mankind, the popularity of the renaissance festival has been primarily an American thing born out of the ’60s.

BIG DRAW
The Charlevoix Renaissance Festival will be modeled after Silver Leaf Renaissance Faire in Battle Creek that attracts more than 40,000 visitors every July. The weekend will be filled with dancers, magicians, jugglers and performers ala Shakespearean that draw attendees into audience participation roles.
Another exciting part of the weekend is the falconry and jousting demonstrations.
The falconry show consists of three distinct activities: patron interaction, where birds and handlers are intermingled with patrons and participants; displaying of the birds in a designated area or mews; and a stage presentation demonstrating “free flight” and a simulated “hunt” with a lure. There are ample opportunities for patrons to ask questions and take photographs with the birds.
If you think the concept of “extreme sports” was invented by ESPN, guess again. Jousting is one of the original extreme sports (along with gladiator matches). Knights in full armor on horses will give patrons an up-close and personal look at the art of this sport from days gone by.
The popularity of renaissance festivals has led to them popping up all over the country. Michigan now boasts 11 of them. For several years the Northwood’s Renaissance Festival took place near Interlochen, but show organizers stopped a couple years ago, opening the door for Castle Farms.
“Every state has at least one of these festivals. It was a shame that the one in Interlochen didn’t continue,” said Deneau. “Northern Michigan is perfect for this. We are excited about Castle Farms serving as a backdrop for this. To have a real castle a part of this is only going to add to the weekend.”

FANTASY PAST
There are critics of renaissance festivals who point to the fact that these events are not authentic and that they don’t give an authentic portrayal of the Renaissance days. Deneau scoffs at the critics.
“This is not a history class. This is about entertainment and having fun,” said Deneau. “There are parts of what happen that are authentic. It is a blend of reality and fantasy. We are not trying to recreate some exact historical moment in time or some specific place–we are trying to create a place that doesn’t really exist but for this moment it does, and we are able to escape our troubles or the ills of the world. That is what this is about.”
For Deneau, who serves as the marketing director of the Silver Leaf Renaissance Faire and its production company, that is exactly what attracted her.
“I went to Silver Leaf for the first time 17 years ago and as I was drawn in to everything going on, I said to myself, ‘I belong here.’ So I ended up volunteering the next year,” said Deneau. “Before I knew it I was the marketing director. Organizing these festivals is a real labor of love. We all have day jobs and this is our hobby.”
Richard and Linda Mueller bought Castle Farms in 2001 and started the multi-million dollar restoration of the former dairy farm and onetime rock concert venue. They opened the facility in 2004, hosting over 40 events. In 2005 the Muellers created an advisory board of community leaders and event experts, and it was in those meetings that the idea of hosting a renaissance festival at the Castle was born.
“Richard and Linda Mueller are meticulous in everything they do,” said Deneau. “They attended several renaissance festivals to get ideas as to what they wanted. We are pleased that they selected us to produce this for them.”

ECONOMIC ENGINE
Another part of the Muellers’ mission is to involve Castle Farms in the community so that its events serve as an economic driver for Charlevoix and the surrounding region.
“This event, as many of our events, spills into the community. The DDA is hosting concerts in downtown,” said Stephanie Sayre, Castle Farms spokesperson. “The businesses are getting into this event by decorating their windows, and hotel rooms are filling up in the region as these festivals attract visitors who like to travel to several renaissance festivals.”
Another popular part of every festival is the food and the vendor’s area.
“Yes, we will have turkey legs, bread bowl fare and other goodies from the land beyond,” said Deneau. “We do have vendors coming in from all over the country who will have many crafty items for sale.”
This weekend will have a Celtic theme with a nautical theme on the final weekend. Organizers hope to be able to expand the festival next year.
Action, adventure, and romance all await you at Castle Farms during the Charlevoix Renaissance Festival, June 7-8 and June 14-15. The festival gate is open from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m., both days with an admission fee of $13.95 for adults, $7.95 for children ages 5-12, and children under 4 are free.

For additional details visit castlefarms.com or call them at
231-237-0884. Castle Farms is located on M-66 just outside of Char


 
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