History and fun at Rennaissance Fair
Christina Carr is polishing her sword and shining her boots in preparation for this weekend’s swashbuckling adventures at the BC Renaissance Festival. Being a pirate isn't all rum and booty, there's a lot of hard work, too. As the founder of the the festival, Carr has double duties as a player in the festivities and as the driving force behind the event.
"It's fun, but it's work," said Carr, who plays the over-the-top pirate Captain Charity.
Running from July 17th-19th at Aldor Acres Farm in Fort Langely, the festival features costumed performers, a medieval market, competitive jousting on horse back, and a little something for everyone, even a fully licensed pub offering Mead, a type of honey lager, for the grown-ups.
"Our schedule is set up to make sure that the parents are happy and that there is enough entertainment for couples, adults and teenagers," said Carr.
Carr and her husband moved to Vancouver 8 years ago to pursue career opportunities in the entertainment industry. In Ontario, they were heavily involved in the Renaissance Fair community, and they noticed that the Lower Mainland was missing a festival of its own.
"I decided to start one year and pull something together to give this province something it hadn't had before," said Carr. "We wanted to give Vancouver and BC some tourism after the Olympics are gone."
The weekend marks the 3rd anniversary of the BC Renaissance Festival. However, the last three years haven't been all clear skies and smooth sailing. Carr and company have had their share of hurdles to overcome, most of which sunk any previous attempt to establish any sort of annual event of this type in Vancouver.
"It's been an interesting roller coaster ride," said Carr. "I had found when I had asked the previous organizers about the festivals, what they thought what went wrong with their festivals and why they didn't work are a lot of the problems that I'm still facing."
And the source of these problems aren't coming from where you'd might think. A large area of frictions comes from within the historical reenactment community itself.
"My pirates are 1500s pirates, pre-heyday pirates, and we're walking around with curved swords on our hips. A historian would jump down our throats so quick saying that we're keeping the public ignorant, but we say that there is enough historical fact in our script to keep things interesting and if the kids are interested they will go and learn more for themselves and see the inaccuracies, and be all the better for it," said Carr.
"They'll complain about some of the costume aspects, and well you know there are TV shows out there like The Tudors who have destroyed history more than we ever will."
Some other problems faced comes from the precarious balancing act involved in keeping the event family friendly for the general public, while catering to the needs of die-hard fantasy and Renaissance Festival enthusiasts. Carr says that in doing so, she and the other organizers have had to send aways more than a few volunteers and vendors, but the family and community response has been so strong that it's worth it to keep the atmosphere accessible for everyone.
"We have a high percentage of cosplayers. We get people who show up in fairy wings, schoolgirl outfits, or elves, which I'm happy for," said Carr.
Set in the year 1510, the festival recreates a traditional period village with all the amenities you'd expect. Actors play out the events of a visit from King James and Queen Margaret. But with the arrival of Charity and her band of pirates, it's far from a peaceful day in Stellar's Grove.
Tickets are $12 for adults, $7 for Children and Seniors. Kids under 3 get in free.