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36th Annual Renn Fest

Aug 21, 2012 02:35PM ● By Anonymous

“Every year we do a different year in the reign of Henry VIII. We go through each wife, and different years are chosen for what is going on during that time,” says artistic director Carolyn Spedden. Typically, the Festival themes move in chronological order by wife. But this year, the Festival will take attendees back—back to the beginning. "When we go back in time, we try not to repeat an angle we’ve done before, we’ll focus on something slightly different.”

This season, the year will be 1514, when Henry was married to his first wife, Catherine of Aragon. “In 1514, things are kind of still okay, if you follow the court gossip…they’re preparing for the royal wedding of Henry’s little sister, and this year we’re doing something we’ve never done before,” says Spedden. “We’re doing a special show that really goes back one monarch to Henry VII, and we’ll focus on how Henry VIII got the throne, The War of Roses, and so on. [This year’s storyline] gives the background of where Henry VIII came from, with lots of juicy gossip.”

In addition to new storylines, each year the Festival incorporates new shows by in-house performers, including something Shakespearean. This year, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is on the schedule, but the Festival is presenting it with a twist. “Each act will be done at a different stage all around the festival,” Spedden says. Shakespeare buff? Worried the division might be confusing? Don’t fret! “[The acts] will be cut in such a way that people who are familiar with the play will be able to pick it up without necessarily seeing the rest of it,” she says.

Last year, the Renaissance Festival welcomed a host of new performers one weekend or another, and this year, many of those performers will be back for extended weekends and extra performances. Translation: If you limited your RennFest-ing last year to only a visit or two, you may see a variety of new-to-you names on the schedule this year. Additionally, many of the beloved acts that are among RennFest’s tried and true—but missed last year—are returning.

“When we say there’s something for everyone, it sounds kind of cliché,” says Spedden. “But there is really something for everyone here. We have plenty of music and comedy and all sorts of entertainment. If you like history, it’s here, but if you don’t, there’s plenty of other stuff. Lots of music, plenty of shows, you could not see all the performances in one day.”


And—among a myriad of exciting new updates—there’s at least one more tried-and-true element of this year’s RennFest: Fred Nelson will continue to play Henry VIII. “We’re going back [30 years] but we’re not replacing him,” says Spedden. “He just gets to be younger on paper.”

Whether you want to dress up, eat well, get hitched (sure, you can do that there too), be entertained, or just explore all that 1514 has to offer, head to Revel Grove in Crownsville beginning August 26th and, as they say, “Let the merriment abound!”

For more information on the 36th annual event, visit