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395,280 visits (5 today, 42 this week, 194 this month, 752 this year, 7 yesterday. Best day was 151 visitors.)

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Iowa-area festivals as of 7/23/14 :

May 3-4:
12th annual
Nebraska Ren Faire
Omaha, NE

May 10-11:
12th annual
Nebraska Ren Faire
Omaha, NE

May 17-18:
7th annual
Dubuque Ren Faire
Dubuque, IA

Labor Day Weekend:
23rd annual
Iowa Ren Fest

Amana Colonies, IA

June 7-8:
13th annual
Siouxland Ren Fest
Sioux Falls, SD
Tristate Ren Faire
Keokuk, IA

June 27-28:
30th annual
Riverside, IA

August 9-10:
3rd annual
IA-MN Pirate Fest
Clear Lake, IA

August 23-24:
7th annual
Midlands Pirate Fest
Omaha, NE

Mem Day Weekend:
12th annual
Des Moines Ren Faire
Des Moines, IA

September 6-7:
12th annual
Des Moines Ren Faire

Des Moines, IA

September 13-14:
12th annual
Des Moines Ren Faire
Des Moines, IA

Oct 4-5:
11th annual
Sioux City Riverssance
Sioux City, IA

Oct 10-11, 2015
new event
Greater Quad Cities Ren Faire
Orion, IL

If you are in the Iowa-region and want to be listed here, let me know!

To find other upcoming festivals, visit Mike Bonk's directorie.

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Latest Headline as of Friday, 27-Mar-2015 08:10:51 CDT :
3/11/2015 - Pirates of the Carribean 5
15 days until ATF's 15th Anniversary! (Domain registered on 4/11/2000, though we started posting RenFest photos in 1997!)

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Latest News!
Check this news page daily! The most recent 14 news items from the past two weeks will be available on this front page. For older items, be sure to see the news archives. If you have any festival news, rumors, or announcements, be sure to let us know so we can post it here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015 8:19AM
News icon 8:19 AM - Pirates of the Carribean 5 (posted by JohnPaul )
I have been out of the loop for years, and had no idea they had started shooting Pirates of the Caribbean part 5 until I read headlines of Johnny Depp hurting his hand on set.

I did not know about part 4 either until someone at the Des Moines Renaissance Faire (was it Captain Rick?) told me it was in the works.

The articles quote a release date of July 7, 2017.
Thursday, February 19, 2015 12:31PM
FestivalNews icon 12:31 PM - KCRF easter egg hunt with booze. (posted by JohnPaul )
A press release was sent out announcing an adult easter egg hunt with booze on the grounds of the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.

There was a time when KC supported a huge Renaissance festival full of Renaissance-themed acts. Over the year, the popularity of such events seems to have declined so much that today, the schedule has things like "pet weekend" and Oktoberfest as well as other things not associated with Renaissance. They had also done other seasonal events like a zombie marathon race, and now an easter egg hug.

To the old KCRF, we miss you. There is a new generation growing up that has never known it from when it was strictly a Renaissance festival.

Ya gotta do what ya gotta do to keep the lights on. There used to be six individual Renaissance festivals a year in Iowa, but those days are gone.

News icon 7:02 AM - Pirates of the Caribbean 5 (posted by JohnPaul )
Welcome back, Captain.
Friday, November 21, 2014 6:32PM
FestivalNews icon 6:32 PM - Magridal Banquet in Clear Lake, Iowa (posted by JohnPaul )

-News Release-

-for immediate

"Inaugural Banquet with Entertainment"

To celebrate St. Nicholas Day (Dec. 6th) and the 20th anniversary of Christmas by the Lake, the Best Western Holiday Lodge in association with North Iowa Civic Theater will present the first 'Holiday Madrigal Banquet'. This Christmas themed feast along with an array of performers will take place after the fireworks on that saturday night of Clear Lake's festive weekend.

This theater-in-the-round traditional olde-English banquet will be set in the Victorian era and will include pre-show contest games, a multi-course meal of unique servings, a cash bar, and professional Renaissance festival performers from around the region.

The performing roster will feature Queen Victoria & Prince Albert, Gilbert O'Sullivan as master of ceremonies, magician Lord Drake, an authentic 'Punch & Judy' puppet show, singer Katia del Rio as Eliza Doolittle, the Mixed Doubles Twins with their "Sherlock Holmes" comedy, the swordplay stunt show by Sons of the Mist, strolling minstrels & vocalists, a juggler, comic characters and surprise shenanigans.

The seating will be at round tables of eight settings for individuals, couples, groups or company parties. Tickets will be $30 per person, and must be reserved/purchased in advance.

The doors open at 6:30pm for early seating choices and a half-hour of warm-up games, contests and libations. The main food courses and floor show acts start at 7:00 with the banquet expected to conclude by 8:30.

"We'd like to take the traditional madrigal banquet to another level, and present it as a dinner feast with theatricals. It'll be somewhat of an indoor Renaissance faire with a nostalgic expression for Christmas of old," states the event's producer Gregory Schmidt, who runs four Renaissance festivals around the Upper Midwest.

Interested attendees to the inaugural 'Holiday Madrigal Banquet' can secure their tickets and seating by contacting Mandy VanVoorhis at the Best Western Holiday Lodge via or tel. #641-357-5253 ext 488.


CONTACT: Greg Schmidt
Wednesday, August 13, 2014 6:55PM
News icon 6:55 PM - ABC's upcoming musical Renaissance comedy (posted by JohnPaul )
ABC is rapidly becoming the Renaissance/fairy tale network, with shows like Once Upon a Time (and the Wonderland spinoff), The Quest reality series, and coming soon.... Galavant - the music epic, with music by Alan Menken who did many great modern Disney animated classic music.

Check out the trailer.
Sunday, August 10, 2014 10:02PM
FestivalNews icon 10:02 PM - Iowa-Minnesota Pirate Festival has concluded. (posted by JohnPaul )
The 2014 Iowa-Minnesota Pirate Festival has concluded. This was the first year I got to visit, and it sounds like this may have been the final year for the event. In spite of very nice weather, attendance was low on Saturday, and even lower on Sunday. It's a pity - it was a small, fun little event with large trees and easy access to the beach (and restaurant/Tiki Bar). I will post photos to when I have a chance.

Up next: Midlands Pirate Festival near Omaha, Nebraska...
Saturday, August 2, 2014 1:10AM
News icon 1:10 AM - A renfest reality show? (posted by JohnPaul )
A renfest reality show? Check out ABC's The Quest.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 6:28PM
FestivalNews icon 6:28 PM - Midlands Pirate Fest radio ad (posted by JohnPaul )
The latest AtTheFaire production, featuring voices of Willa (!), St. Chris (NJ) and John-Paul (IA).
Monday, July 14, 2014 6:23PM
FestivalNews icon 6:23 PM - 2015: Greater Quad Cities Ren Faire (posted by JohnPaul )
A new event for 2015 is coming to IA/IL - Oct 10-11, 2015 in Orion, IL. Details when we get them...
Friday, July 11, 2014 12:38PM
Article icon 12:38 PM - Naming a renfest: Faire? Fest? Or what? (posted by JohnPaul )
I have been in the loop of about a half dozen new Renaissance festivals over the years when they were created and named. There is often a discussion about what the official name should be. I thought I would share some of my observations over the years -- and how time changes things.

I grew up in Texas, and the Texas Renaissance FESTIVAL was my first exposure to renfests (in 1979 or 1980). Or was it Scarborough FAIRE? I went to them both. But, as I visit, I see it is actually Scarborough Renaissance FESTIVAL. Maybe we just called it the other name based on the song which I only know from the Simon and Garfunkle remake?

In either case, Festival was what they were called where I grew up. And when I moved to Iowa, we had the Iowa Renaissance FESTIVAL... and Salisbury FAIRE. In my early days, I didn't even know how to spell Renaissance -- I would put two n's in it and one s. (ATF posted about this over a decade ago, commenting on a festival somewhere that has a domain -- mis-abbreviating it in their domain! We also noticed misspellings of "Renaissance" on signage for an event here in Iowa, and have seen it in a few other places.)

So the first point is: don't use "Renaissance" in your domain name. People may have problems spelling it, and it's just too long.

But do people know what "ren" is when they hear it? Unlikely, but unless they are thinking of the "wren" bird, and know about the silent w at the start, a bad speller might guess "ren" is spelled R-E-N.

The choice of FAIRE versus FESTIVAL is tricky. FAIRE sounds better and feels more Olde English. But most modern folks know this as FAIR without the E. Over the years, I have recorded many radio ads (including things for where we would have to say "that's fair with an e at the end." What a waste of time.

So, if you are going to choose FAIRE with the E, be sure to get the domain spelled both ways -- FAIRE and FAIR -- just so you don't have to do that. It is likely most people would never put an e at the end of fair unless they were already in the loop of Renaissance events.

Also, going with more historical spellings -- fayre for example (look it up; that is the origin) -- look cool, but will anyone be able to spell it? If you do this, be prepared to have your event misspelled in blogs, media mentions, etc. (Even with FAIRE, I have made TV appearances with the title of FAIR floating below me on the screen.)

BUT, doing FAIR in the official name of a Renaissance event doesn't seem that Renaissancey...does it?

Let's step back a bit... FESTIVAL versus FAIR/FAIRE. Things get abbreviated for space, for FEST may be used and understood, but that should probably not be part of the official name. Today, we have LobsterFEST, BaconFEST, BrewFEST, ZooFEST, etc. and these all have a certain type of "pop-up tent and beer ticket" image to them. But, folks know how to spell it.

I argue that "faire" is the better approach (if you also get fair in the domain name) and you don't mind the e missing when people talk about you. (This can hinder search results - if 100% of all mentions are the correct name, that ranks higher than a mixture of My Renaissance Festival versus My Ren Fest versus My RenFest versus My Renaissance Fest etc.

But Faire sounds more Renaissancey... I would vote for faire with the e, but if it is used in a domain name, also get the version without the e.

As to the name, if it's geographically known -- i.e., Quad Cities, Panhandle, Metroplex, Twin Cities, etc. -- it may make sense to use the common abbreviation of the area that people are already accustomed to. For instance, in Des Moines, most everything is abbreviated as DSM or DM. The Des Moines Renaissance Faire original had something like dsmfaire as the abbreviation (and possibly the first website was that). But, major sites in the area used DM --,, etc. The selection of (and also works) was chosen for that reason. is a mouthful and the longer the address, the smaller the font has to be to make it fit.

More discussion should be had on this, but here are the points I am trying to make here:

1. Fest is the easiest, but may not sound the best and may be associated with other types of non-entertainment style events.

2. Faire sounds great, but no one will spell it correct. But, you can at least have fair in the domain name, too, and not miss internet access.

Which one is better? Number one is the path of least resistance (spelling) and the only real downside is it sounds like other non-themed events (i.e. LobsterFest is back!). And Number two sounds more appropriate, but will cause names to be misspelled...

More to come...

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Festivals: Merchants: Performers: Everything Else:
  1. Des Moines Ren Faire (IA)
  2. Four Kingdoms Festival (IL)
  3. Hamlet of Mid Missouri (MO)
  4. Iowa Ren Festival (IA)
  5. Nebraska Ren Faire (NE)
  6. Greater Quad Cities Ren Faire (IL)
  7. Wild West "Family Fun" Fest (IA)

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Permanent festivals in our area: Kansas City Renaissance Festival, Bristol Renaissance Faire, Des Moines Renaissance Faire and Minnesota Renaissance Festival.
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