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Latest ATF News: 7/14/2014 - 2015: Greater Quad Cities Ren Faire
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Iowa-area festivals as of 7/15/14 :

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 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 Tuesday, 22-Jul-2014 16:23:24 CDT :
7/14/2014 - 2015: Greater Quad Cities Ren Faire
263 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.

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...

FestivalNews icon 9:53 AM - New faire coming to Quad Cities (IA/IL) in 2015 (posted by JohnPaul )
Details are being worked out for a new Renaissance festival in the Quad Cities area (Orion, Illinois, I believe) for September 2015. Details when I have them...
Thursday, June 26, 2014 12:49PM
FestivalNews icon 12:49 PM - Michigan Blackrock Medieval Festival find raiser... (posted by JohnPaul )
This is new to me... A fund raiser using a Kickstarter type website to save a renaissance festival...

Anyone been to this event? Someone posted the link on the DMRF Facebook page.
Monday, June 9, 2014 9:53PM
FestivalNews icon 9:53 PM - MNRF has no parking lot?!? (posted by JohnPaul )
David Duccini has shares some aerial photos of the MNRF site. There doesn't seem to be any of the former parking lot left. Yikes.

Check it out (public post, so you can view this even without a Facebook account):

Anyone know more?
Wednesday, June 4, 2014 12:05PM
FestivalNews icon 12:05 PM - Iowa-Minnesota Pirate Fest (posted by JohnPaul )
PM Park, South Shore - Clear Lake
Aug. 8th: 7pm to closing Tiki Bar Entertainment
Aug. 9/10th: [Full Festival] - 11am to 6pm

Third annual celebration of all things nautical, from historical buccaneer characters to fantasy fun performers. Three stages of entertainment with
a wide variety of professional acts and kids activities. Food court, artisan & craft merchants, games of skill, contests & prizes, treasure hunts, olde world demonstrations and novelty surprises. Plus, Tiki Bar drinks on the beach!

Admission: Adults -$10, Kids (6-15) -$5, Tots free
INFO: or (641)357-5177
Friday, May 30, 2014 10:48AM
FestivalNews icon 10:48 AM - MNRF moving rumors, yet again... (posted by JohnPaul )
I got involved with the Midwest Renaissance festival circuit in 1997. Over the years, there have been ongoing rumors about the Kansas City Ren Fest and Minnesota Ren Fest moving for various reasons. A KC newspaper even reported on this years ago, but as far as I know, KCRF is still where it has been.

MNRF news always says that eventually the land used by the festival is going to be needed for mining. In the past (ten years ago?) the talk was that the entrance would be flipped so the current parking lot could be mined. A quick search revealed with Sar Tribune article from 2012:

Sand mining won't displace Renaissance Fest for years

Mid-American Festivals (the corporation that runs MNRF, KCRF and others) is quoted saying this might happen in "distant years" but how distant is distant?

I couldn't quickly find other articles following up on this two-year old news, so I wondered if anyone else has news. I've heard the same rumors since before AtTheFaire existed, so hearing a new round of rumors in 2014 is nothing new... Unless it's actually true this time.

Anyone got details?

UPDATE: Looking at satelite images on BING and Google maps, you can see the oldest (Bing "Bird's Eye" view) showed the area all around the event was still land. A bit later (Bing "Aerial" view), and of the three strips of parking in front of the event, the top right strip was starting to be mined, and the right of the festival had been dug up. The current photo in Google (no idea how old it is) shows about 20% of the right two parking strips closest to the entrance eaten up. Yep, looks like it's coming along -- if nothing else, they have lost a bit of parking.
Thursday, May 29, 2014 6:30PM
FestivalNews icon 6:30 PM - St. Louis Ren Faire has gone corporate? (posted by JohnPaul )
Talk about being out of the loop... St. Louis Renaissance Faire goes corporate, according to this note in the Renaissance Magazine's e-mail newsletter.

"Hear ye, hear ye, the St. Louis Renaissance Festival is pleased to announce it is under new management! The show is now being run by Mid-America Festivals, the nationís largest producer of outdoor themed events. Mid-America Festivals currently produces some of the best and largest Renaissance Festivals in the country including Minnesota, Michigan, Kansas City, and Bay Area (Tampa, FL). With the opportunity this new partnership presents it is sure to be the biggest and best season yet!"

I performed at this event when it was four years old (the year of the flood) and in those early years, all those we worked with were very proud to be an alternative to the corporate mentality that operated Kansas City Ren Fest. It has been a number of years since I have visited, so I do not know how the event has done since, but I did find this news interesting.

Anyone been in past years? I'd be curious to hear about any changes that are seen once Mid-America is at the helm (Pepsi stands and T-shirt stands everywhere, like KCRF?).
Wednesday, May 28, 2014 1:24PM
FestivalNews icon 1:24 PM - Iowa-Minnesota Pirate Festival (posted by JohnPaul )
With the Nebraska Renaissance Faire and Iowa Renaissance Festival now concluded, the next Festivals International event will be the Iowa-Minnesota Pirate Fest coming up August 8-10 in Clear Lake, Iowa.

FestivalNews icon 1:17 PM - 2009 Shipwreck Pirate Music Fest in Des Moines? (posted by JohnPaul )
Today, during an unrelated web search, I came across an index entry for something called the Shipwreck Pirate Music Fest in Des Moines, Iowa (where ATF is located). I had never heard of this, and more searching revealed a posting in a message board from 2009 -- saying they were having it at the Des Moines Renaissance Faire site a week before DMRF that year. I don't recall hearing anything about this, and during that time we were actively setting things up for the DMRF.

Did anyone hear anything about this? The domain no longer seems active, but I wondered if it happened somewhere else?

Here were the details:

Greetings from the crew of Shipwrecked Pirate Music Festival!

We are currently seeking pirate sponsors, entertainers and vendors for Shipwrecked 2009. We have secured Saturday, August 29, 2009 as our festival date and are in current negotiations with Sleepy Hollow Sports Park in Des Moines, IA for our venue location. Please contact us if you are still interesting in being a part of Shipwrecked Pirate Music Festival. We are starting small this year but have plans, as always, to grow the festival in the coming years!

Anyone know what it was and what happened to it?

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Copyright © 1997-2014 by - E-mail the webmaster Community Members as of 7/15/14 :
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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