HARVEYSBURG — It’s taken months of hard work to plan, but centuries of fun are expected when the 30th anniversary celebration of the Ohio Renaissance Festival returns to Harveysburg.
This year’s incarnation of the festival kicks off Labor Day weekend (Aug. 31-Sept. 2) and runs every Saturday and Sunday (including Labor Day) for nine weekends at the sprawling 35-acre village.
Marketing Director Cheryl Bucholtz said organizers have been looking forward to this year’s milestone festival, which for two days each weekend brings 16th Century England to life.
“We have a pretty fantastic event every year, and there is added excitement for a big anniversary such as the 30th,” said Bucholtz, who is in her 19th year with the festival. “For those of us that have been here collectively for over half of those years, it takes on an extra special meaning to us to celebrate 30 years. (Everyone has) worked extra hard on things like fight prep and bringing in new entertainment to keep it fresh, but at the same time (keeping the things that have) helped make our event so successful for 30 years. We’re always working toward the customer experience and making sure (patrons) make unique and unforgettable memories.”
The festival runs from 10:30 a.m. until 6 p.m. each day and features themed weekends with an array of food, activities and entertainment aimed at immersing patrons in 16th Century England. Once visitors walk through the gates, they’ll see more than 150 costumed street cast members roaming the village interacting with guests, while 15 stages scattered throughout the village offer nearly 100 shows each day.
Festival-goers also will find a wide selection of period-themed games and activities: artisan demonstrations such as glass blowing, blacksmithing and candle-making; human-powered rides for kids; and more than 150 artisans and craftsmen selling unique hand-made wares.
And when they’re ready for a bite to eat, patrons have their pick of Renaissance favorites ranging from the simple to savory: From Giant Turkey Legs, bread bowl stew and Steak on a Stake to fish and chips, bourbon chicken and roasted corn on the cob – just to name a few – while a variety of fine wines, ales, coffee, tea and Coca-Cola products also are available.
Bucholtz said year after year the Giant Turkey Legs are a festival favorite.
“In 30 years, the turkey legs have been the most sold/consumed item,” she noted, adding that more than 32,000 of the roasted delicacies are sold each year.
While the unique food items stand out, Bucholtz said top-notch entertainment is a huge part of why patrons return year after year. Festival-favorites such as The Knights of Valour Full Armour Joust, Mudde Show, Washing Well Wenches, Moonie the Magnif’cent, Christoph the Insultor, the Da Vinci Bros. Comedy Operas, Circa Brava, the Kamikaze Fireflies and The Swordsmen (celebrating their 25th year at the festival) are back, while a handful of new acts also are planned.
Bucholtz said patrons won’t want to miss:
• The Rick & Jan Show: “Rick is a hypnotist who does a show on his own, and together with Jan, they have a comedy-variety show with a trained pig.”
• The High Flying Fools: “They are an aerial show combining comedy and feats of strength – kind of a sideshow circus type of act. They are very entertaining, highly energetic and will be a crowd pleaser.”
• Band of Pirates: “We have had them join us before on a few weekends. They’re coming back for all four September weekends … performing ‘Grog Rock.’ They’re fun, piratical, very high energy … a wonderful pub act.”
Patrons 21 years and older looking for a new twist on the festival experience may want to explore the twice-daily pub crawls (for an extra fee) or participate in tasting events available for an additional fee: Jameson Family Whiskey Tasting, Woodchuck Hard Cider Tasting and the Brothers Drake Meadery Tasting.
And if that’s not enough, Bucholtz said festival organizers are finalizing details on a birthday-themed celebration for the evening of Sept. 28.
“We have added a special 30th birthday bash weekend that will be an appreciation party to patrons and participants alike who have helped us be such a great festival for 30 years,” she said. “On Sept. 28 after the festival closes, those that would like to attend are welcome, and we’ll have concession-style food and drinks available at the 1572 Roadhouse Bar-B-Q area and also have some select Renaissance Festival performers on stage from 7-9 p.m.”
Information on discounted tickets for that weekend will be updated soon on the festival website and social media platforms, Buckholtz added.
For Ohio Renaissance Festival ticket information or to learn more about food, entertainment, artisans, directions and parking, visit the festival website at renfestival.com