New York Renaissance Faire celebrates 45th anniversary

By Stephanie Meditz

Fairies and woodland creatures dance around the Maypole to celebrate the change of season.

Over Labor Day weekend, the vendors and actors at the New York Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo did not take any days off from transporting visitors back to Elizabethan England. 

The Faire, open on weekends in late summer and early fall, celebrated its 45th anniversary with its traditional marketplace, performances, costumes and food, including its infamous turkey legs. 

Upon entering the Faire, guests immediately land on Spende Penny Lane, a street aptly named for the 125+ artisans who set up shop there. 

Some of the many souvenirs to purchase include flower crowns, corsets, armor, swords, candles, incense, leather goods and even psychic readings. 

The marketplace consists almost entirely of independent vendors, meaning that artisans craft their merchandise by hand and rent their booths at the Faire every year. 

The Royal Candle Maker even holds live demonstrations where the artisan shows potential buyers how he designs his candles to retain less heat. 

Not only do these unique candles burn longer, but the wax melts in such a way that turns them into candle holders. 

Tara Vazquez, who sells intricate garlands and flower crowns that rival Titania herself, returned to the Faire for her third year. 

Vendor Tara Vazquez loves to help visitors find garland to match their outfits.

She loves to match her merchandise to visitors’ outfits, whether they come dressed in period costumes or everyday attire. 

“The most fun part is honestly that most people, between workers and patrons, just blend right in,” she said. “You’re just here to have fun. Everyone’s here for the same reason.” 

This past weekend was the Faire’s Marketplace Weekend, where patrons who spend $250 at the marketplace earn two free tickets to return to the Faire through Sept. 25. 

Although costumes are optional, many of the Faire’s patrons go all out with their Renaissance looks, and several travel to Renaissance fairs across the country. 

Suelen Feltrin frequently travels to fairs in the tri-state area and crafts a brand new look every time, with months of planning behind each one.

Suelen Feltrin wears a different look to each of the many Renaissance fairs she attends.

She visited the New York Renaissance Faire for the first time last weekend with her two daughters. 

“The last time I brought them, because of COVID, they were so little, so they don’t really remember it much,” she said. “They think this is their first one, but it’s really not. But they’re loving it so far.” 

Feltrin is happy to share this tradition with her daughters, who also dressed up in princess gowns. 

Although patrons often steal the spotlight, the Faire’s cast members stay in character during every visitor interaction for a truly transformative experience. 

There is a wide range of characters to encounter: fae in the Enchanted Forest, knights in shining armor at jousts and sly pickpockets who skulk across the Faire. 

One such character, Charles Schilling, has been a “secondhand salesman” at the Faire for four years. 

“Sometimes the first hand knows not that the second hand has it, but we tell the first hand not,” he said. 

He also noted the attention people give him, a “strange little man,” at the Faire as opposed to the bustle of urban centers. 

For the past nine years, Moe DeLawns has, appropriately, been the Shire groundskeeper and florist. 

“The Shire, in my opinion, is a very special place with a very special energy about it,” he said. “Because ne’er not you can see many places that are filled with such wonder and merriment as you can with Sterling Faire.” 

Charles Schilling and Moe DeLawns wear their “Faire day best” attire.

The Faire also hosts a Pub Crawl where guests can pay an additional $65 for a drink at four of its pubs. 

Guests who do not participate can laugh as the group quite literally crawls across the Faire to get to each pub. 

The New York Renaissance Faire is a show in itself with its immersive experiences, but it also includes games, rides and shows for the whole family. 

To commemorate the change in season, fairies dance and scatter pixie dust around the Maypole. 

The Chess Board hosts a real-life game of chess — two teams face off in a series of random one-on-one sword fights. 

A game called “Rotten Revenge,” faithful to the public humiliation that was common in Elizabethan England, allows guests to throw tomatoes at a human target. 

With all that it has to offer, the New York Renaissance Faire welcomes all lords and ladies to visit Sterling Shire on weekends through Oct. 9.