This year was my first time attending the Silver Kingdom Renaissance Festival, held at Ye Old Commons in Charlton, MA. The faire has been in business for six years now, and has a small following of about 500 attendants on average each year.
Unfortunately, due to weather and perhaps bad timing, the faire saw only a fraction of its normal attendance. The first weekend of the faire was a total wash-out, with rain, wind, and cold putting a damper on the festivities. Sales weren’t good for many of the merchants, and several decided to pack up their tents and bail on the second weekend of SKRF, in favor of more populated faires further south. Though even with the no-show merchants, there was still a good selection of goods to be purchased at the faire, and for very reasonable prices. There were several costume booths, ranging from affordable period tatters, to meticulously crafted bodices and armor. There were a wide range of leather goods and clothing, including pouches, canteens, vests, masks, bracers, and bodices. As well as live steel and boffer weapons. There was also pottery, stonework, prints of 2D artwork (sold only by yours truly), and jewelry.
The second weekend had marvelous weather! Sunny all day and in the high 70’s the whole weekend. Perfect days to be outside. Yet attendance was still ridiculously low from what we could see. Most of the faire was comprised of LARPers and performers. I very much enjoyed the company of the larpers and and musicians who would frequent our tent because if it were not for them, we would have had little to do in the morning. The music was beautiful and all of us merchants definitely enjoyed it, even if there was no visible crowd to perform for.
The faire did seem to put a lot of emphasis on the LARP. The players were extremely dedicated weekend adventurers, who spent great effort to develop their characters and keep track of stats. The larpers also put a lot of effort into their costumes, which ranged from full chainmail suits, to body-paint, to wings, and giant weapons. Each player had the option to camp out on the faire grounds during the festival, and many of them did because the games ran from early in the morning until midnight each day. Its camping, but with continuous, fictitious magic, questing, and threat of attack from an enemy team.
The faire grounds were beautiful, and perfect for adventuring. There was plenty of parking, a tavern with clean bathrooms and running water, and food. There was a giant field for tournaments, easily navigable pathways, lots of permanent structures for performers to perform in and around, and a dense forest with many paths cutting through it for the larpers to LARP in.
Overall, I had fun, but if I did not have a booth to tend to all day, I would have been done with the faire in about an hour and a half because there just wasn’t that much going on. The faire-goers are what make the faire, and not many people showed up. I do not know what SKRF was like in years past, but to me the faire seemed too spread out for the number of attendees. Everywhere you looked, the place looked empty. Though everyone I met there was friendly and easy to work with, there wasn’t enough profit or exposure to be gained to make it worth the merchants’ time.
Sadly, I give the Silver Kingdom Renaissance Festival a 2.5 out of 5 stars. It had plenty of potential, but not the numbers.