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“Much Ado About Sebastopol” Brings the Renaissance to Sonoma County

Dancing and singing on the main stage

Summer may be nearing its end, but there’s still plenty of sunny weather to enjoy, and that means there’s time still for a Renaissance Faire. This past weekend, Ives Park in Sebastopol was home to “Much Ado About Sebastopol,” a faire celebrating the annual Feast of St. Michael with activities, food, and plenty of costumed performers and attendees.

The faire ran on the weekend of September 13-14, set in a decent-sized park in Sebastopol. Street parking filled up quite quickly, but one could park right by the entrance if they paid a $10 fee, before stepping back into the 16th century.

Music fills the air as a pair of bards perform.

All around the faire, people were dressed in their Renaissance finest. Many of them were volunteers for the faire, acting in-character while interacting with each other and attendees alike. Plenty of the visitors in attendance wore their own costumes to join in on the fun, observing and participating however they could, in games and conversation. And yes, there was a time traveler or two around as well.

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Whether walking around or relaxing in the shade, there was plenty to see. The Queen’s procession would occasionally march by, and it was easy to spot from the shouts of “God save the Queen!” that followed it, before they stopped at a stage or other performance area to speak to the crowd. Other times, the main stage was host to groups of singers, performers, and fencing demonstrations, so that there was always something to watch.

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A fencing demonstration in action.

Elsewhere around the faire, there was an area for fencing demonstrations and a quick introduction to the various medieval swords, done by experienced volunteers. Children wanting to learn how to use swords would have to go a bit farther away to take a fencing lesson from an experienced instructor. Nearby there were several birds of prey and their keepers, who could talk to those curious about the art of falconry.

Falcons at rest.

For the younger participants (and even some of the older ones), there were plenty of games. To fight the heat, there was “soak the bloke/drench the wench,” which basically amounted to “throw wet sponges at each other through the holes in this board,” but proved a popular way to keep cool (though occasionally hazardous to the costumes of passersby). A large craft area was perfect for making souvenirs to bring home, or at least to keep the kids busy. Elsewhere, one could find dart games, miniature trebuchet games, and even a giant jenga set. Though most of the games required “faire bucks” to play, people could purchase wristbands for $20 to allow unlimited games throughout the day.

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Yes, that stack reached well over five feet high before it finally toppled.

The aforementioned faire bucks were also required for getting food around the faire, at a simple conversion rate of 1=1. That also meant that anything that would normally be however many cents got rounded up to the nearest dollar, but the prices were reasonable all around. If one were to leave the faire with any unused faire bucks, they could rest easy knowing that the extra dollars were being put to good use.

That said, the faire could get a little pricey if you wanted to enjoy everything. The paid parking and tickets would cost a combined $26 for a single adult (though child and student prices were significantly cheaper), followed by purchasing faire bucks, perhaps a wristband for the unlimited games, and finally any shopping one wanted to do. Was it worth it? Absolutely. And compared to some larger events, the prices were still quite fair. (No pun intended.)

Street performers on the march.
Street performers on the march.

There were merchants around, selling handcrafted jewelry, clothing and garbs for the time period. They, of course, required actual money, rather than faire bucks, but there was some impressive goods available. Another table near the entrance was selling some nice shiny stones, while one near that had masks for sale, along with a demonstration on how they were crafted (including one mask for sale that was a little bit Ood).

As local events go, Much Ado About Sebastopol was an enjoyable way to spend a weekend day, or even the full weekend for those so inclined. There was no shortage of things to do or see, making for an active and enjoyable day in the hot sun (learn from my mistake and remember to wear sunscreen). Whether you go for the sights, sounds, food, or fun, there was much to do at Much Ado.

Dance before Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth I.
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About rpleasant

A would-be writer, who enjoys living the geek life and indulging in comics, cosplay, anime, and more. He hopes to one day have something created that other people can enjoy and review, but until then continues to work on various projects such as parodies and short stories.

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