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The Renaissance Economy Blog Home
Posted by Maroon the Shantyman
Mar. 11, 2009 04:17 PM  

So, I'm guessing some of you have heard about a little something called a recession recently. I didn't say the recession, obviously, since there have been many in the past and there will be more in the future. However, we've been staring one in the teeth recently and it definitely affects the world of renaissance festivals and the fun costumed performers that dwell within. I'm thinking at this point, most everyone who regularly goes to ren faires, "the playtrons" (you know who you are), will continue to go. They have a sizable investment in time and money in their hobby and they're not going to be abandoning it short of an apocalypse. However, these faire-goers, however tenacious, are only a small percentage of the population of a successful festival.

Take a look around at the next faire you go to and you'll see what I mean. The majority of ren faire junkies fall into the categories of young, childless singles looking for fun ways to spend their spare time, or they are older (or should I say, more experienced) people whose children are all grown up and they are looking to continue connecting with their social network they have found at faire. Neither of these demographics are who the enterprising festival owner or marketer are shooting for. They want the families. They want mom & dad shelling out ticket prices for the single day outings to the festival for themselves and their 2.4 kids. They want them forking over the 50 bucks for the obligatory turkey legs, meat on a stick, and ye old king's sodas for said family and they want them to develop a habit of buying the huge festival steins for each year to add to a growing wall shelf. The real question contributing the health of the renaissance festivals of the country is... will these people still be back this year?

I can't say I know, but I can easily imagine parents deciding to forgo that annual outing that is guaranteed to cost them $200.00 - $300.00 for a day's entertainment. Especially if they're worried about their jobs or bigger bills due to higher electric and natural gas costs and whatnot. You could spend $75.00 and take them to Chuck-E-Cheese and get the same result. (Though obviously not as much fun for them or us performers) I guess this Spring, when the majority of festivals around the country kick into gear, will start to give us a clue. As of now, most of the budgets are the same as last year since they're still running off last year's money, but that could all change next year and the entertainment for a festival could get cut back and you'll see less of your favorite acts. Though feel free to send emails and give high marks on exit surveys telling the owners how much you loved the Bilge Pumps.

Another question to consider is what about the vendors? Well, off-hand, I would say that the food vendors will be fine. They always are. More than likely the vendors that sell the cheap kids stuff will be fine as well. But what about the other 60% of the vendors at a festival... the crafters? Oooh, they're probably going to be hurting unless they can find a way to still make a decent enough profit by lowering their prices. Even the die-hard costumed nuts are gonna find a way to milk their old boots another year instead of plunking down $600.00 for a new pair they've had their eye on. The $60.00 for a wooden mug will suddenly and inexplicably begin to seem like an outrageous amount when last year it was a must have.

Who knows what's going to happen? If I knew anything about finances, I wouldn't be hemorrhaging thousands of dollars out of my 401K right now. However, I'm betting the festival attendances this year will drop, though you'll still see all of your old friends out there, hanging out by the pubs. However, will they splurge for the season tickets or just show up a couple of days to visit everyone? Will the craft vendors end up in the red because of the cost of doing business at faire is too much to offset the lessening of their sales? More importantly, who's going to be buying all this pirate merchandise we're lugging around? Only time will tell. You can bet we'll be there to peddle it to ya, though. Will you be there?

Because it's all for me blog. Me jolly jolly blog.
....Maroon



You've said a mouthful there, lad. Everyone's nipping and tucking where they can. I'm afeard that entertainment may fall under that heading of non-necessities...We'll wait, watch and see.
Posted by Lin Kings on Mar. 11, 2009 05:23 PM

Can you believe that someone tried to swipe my bilge pumps "support piracy" magnet? It would be gone if I were not 10 feet behind their drunk butts when they tried to swipe it. I gracefully followed them to their car (being the only sober one in this scenario) and I plunked it from the droopy drunk girls hand, turning and saying "thank you" at the time. *shakes fist* I just needed to share that...
Posted by Lo for Loved on Mar. 11, 2009 05:49 PM

You know that I and Fiery Flanagan will be out there with you as will our business, Black Pearl Leather & Finery. We will keep going and do what we can and what we must. This is what we love, the people we love, and our rennie friends like all of you are our family, and you don't give up on family.

We'll be seeing you in Norman in a few weeks, we should be out by beginners row in our booth.
Posted by Capt. Jack Daniels on Mar. 11, 2009 07:50 PM

Your right but I'll be doing a full season at the NY Ren Faire.
Posted by Richard Mercado on Mar. 11, 2009 09:35 PM

Funny you should mention finding a way to milk another year out of old boots.... I just sent both pair of my Faire boots in to be re-soled.

I think you are right, lack of money is going to make people stay closer to home this year. Though that could be good news for some of the Smaller Faires and Festivals that are scattered about. I am part of a Guild that Does a lot of smaller faires in the south west and we are Planning on doing our full schedual of events this year. My big fear is that some of the promoters are going to try and cut their budgets by reducing advertising, when what they need to do is advertise more to let people know about the smaller "local" faires so they can draw enough people to make it worth while.

As for being able to make a trek out to TRF, Bristol or one of the bigger faires to be a playtron for a weekend, that probably won't hapen this year. :( But with 6 weeks for the Corona Festival, and the various other weekend events we do, I think I can get my Faire Fix for the year.
Posted by Pirates of Rogues Cove on Mar. 12, 2009 11:39 AM

Well after attending The Norman Medieval Faire last weekend, Saturday was a blast and the crowds were great, I know I spent way more than I intended, but I usually do. I got my must haves new garb for the wife, new corsets for my wife and neice. I got a new cloak after the cold winds blew in on Sunday. Of course my main purchase was the new DVD by The Bilge Pumps. I spent my share but I do know the buckle tightening is occurring at the faires.
Posted by Dennis on Apr. 10, 2009 04:52 PM

of course, with my 1.0 kid and lots of annoying friends... especially if ya'll come to larf ;)
Posted by Zaphod Beeblebrox on May. 06, 2009 08:50 PM


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