With intermittent swigs from a shiny commemorative tankard of nonalcoholic mead, an inspired patron rips a bite away from a freshly deep-fried turkey leg. As he devours his fowl, the stocky, bearded man remains engrossed in watching the physical contest just yards away. Two knights are embroiled in a faux fight replete with sword clanks and vocalized grunts with each swing. In the town square, down a muddy path, covered with straw, a large group of patrons, in pairs, are prancing a Saltarello dance to a festive composition played by musicians playing the lute, a hurdy-gurdy, and a tambourine. In one corner of the square, sparks fly up from a blacksmith’s forge as she hammers and shapes metal adjacent to patrons posing for photos in the stocks.
The 3 Barons Renaissance Fair opens June 4th and will run Saturday and Sunday over two consecutive weekends. With 300 cast members, 66 craft booths, and 20 food vendors, the 2022 edition offers family and friends a memorable participatory experience as they are transported back in time for a day of sword fighting, royal promenades, jester storytelling, and throwing tomatoes at Shakespearean actors.
“We pride ourselves on making our event immersive from the moment you walk in the gate,” shared Kevin Hall, Public Relations Director for 3 Barons. “You’ll be greeted by the sights and sounds of the festive little village of Hillshire. Colorful costumes and jovial town folk strolling about the day, Royal guests and their entourages encamped around the fair with plays and activities for all.”
“Cameras cannot properly convey the level of intensity you find in a 360 theatrical experience,” added Board of Director member Rhiannon Fleener who also serves as the vendor coordinator. “You can only truly experience the wonder of it by bringing yourself to the space where it takes place.”
Uncertain if this year’s attendance will match pre-pandemic numbers that saw 12,000 ticket holders visit in 2019, fair organizers are optimistically planning on an attendance topping 10,000 as Alaskans and tourist visitors alike are getting out more and more.
“There is something entertaining for all ages and for those more historically minded,” continued Hall. “There is a wonderful ‘living history village’ where you can talk with over 30 reenactors about their wide variety of skills and trades and how things were done long, long ago.”
As with all Renaissance fairs, visitors experience a splash of historic truth paired with embellished legend and folklore in this 360-degree immersive performance. “For many, the fair only comes to life when they hear the first notes of ‘Ren Speak,’” shared Hall. “The language-based loosely in history, but humorously evolved into something truly unique. It is characterized when the cast takes the most verbally circuitous route to answer your question that they can.”
With 3 Barons, legend states a creature continued to wreak havoc in the community of Hillshire, stealing food, destroying property, and carrying off children. A brave knight, Hillthelstan, dared to confront the beast fighting it for three days and three nights. With his victory over the creature, he became Hillthelstan the Bold, and the annual fair is held in his honor.
Each day, cast members representing the Blue, Red, and Green courts compete to win a ceremonial relic of Hillthelstan the Bold. Those who hold this relic are said to receive prosperity and are guaranteed a good harvest for that court. In addition, patrons are given wooden tokens from cast members to cast their vote for the court of their choice that best exhibits “noble deeds, great combat, wise rule, and exciting entertainments.”
For those adults who want a reprieve from all of the sights and sounds, the Crooked Toad Tavern (21+) offers an opportunity to interact with pirates “who curse, loot, plunder and offer the finest ales and wines.”
“But be warned, it is so wonderful you just might want to stay and do this for decades,” added Mitchell.
Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test are not required, but mask-wearing is optional and appreciated by the cast and organizers.
Tickets are available at 3barons.com. Adult (13+) day pass admissions is $10, kids $5, military (with ID) and seniors (60+) are $9. The show takes place June 4 -5 and 11-12, noon to 8 PM, at 3400 Tudor, with the first-weekend pirate-themed and the second fantasy-themed.