A Few Observations . . . .

Cassiel C. MacAvity

The Oakland Tribune
Editorial Page Editor Peggy Stinnett
66 Jack London Square, 94607


      I was somewhat amused by the December 11th, 1997, article entitled "County Sheriff's concerns irk pleasure faire promoter".

      Renaissance Entertainment Corporation Vice President Howard Hamburg is disingenuous when he states that no formal application has been made regarding the Pleasanton/Sunol area site. As early as 1993 the REC began hosting waves of meetings with Novato Renaissance Faire actors and volunteers, openly seeking names and means of direct access to local politicians, to then influence that already selected move.

      In turn, when a Pleasanton/Sunol area citizen's group openly opposes the REC's intent, they are a direct contrast to the citizens and officials of Novato who supported and welcomed the Novato RenFaire for many years.

      I was an actor at the Novato RenFaire from 1990 to what everyone from the Faire agrees was its actual final year of 1994. In that time, weekly editions of the Faire's own internal newsletter stated that we regularly drew 18,000 to 20,000 people per day.

      We constantly and successfully drew all those people to the hot, dusty, rock strewn creekbed that is the Novato Black Point Forest site in August though October because we and we alone provided the magic of a genuine Renaissance Faire by regularly and successfully performing a theatrical recreation of a fifteenth century English harvest festival.

      Of the article's quoted attendance figures of 13,000 to 15,000 at the overpriced mall the REC claims is a Renaissance Faire, a co-worker suggested the figures were underrepresented, attempting to make the REC mall less obtrusive. I noted that if accurate, these numbers show why I remember more REC advertising in the 1997 season alone than for the actual Novato Renaissance Faire in all of its final 5 years. Had the REC presented the Renaissance Faire so many customers attended for so many years, they would not need so much advertising for so fewer people, and, if the decline continues, there will soon no longer be an event needing a new site, making such a move pointless.

      In 1995, the REC formally took over after earlier buying the Faire from its founders, Phyllis Patterson and her family. With the pretense and advertising of the same Faire, the REC opened what the faire actors and volunteers immediately and uniformly called "RenMart" and "a fourth rate Disneyland". When we showed up for workshops in 1995 and found that the REC had no intent of operating a RenFaire, many of us left. Having no reason to work something that clearly isn't a Faire, many of us continue on with noninvasive and publicly supported historical recreation groups such as the Civil War recreationists, the Society for Creative Anachronism, and the actual RenFaires that are staged over individual weekends throughout Northern California.

      Of those of us who stayed, one report came from a longtime vendor that the REC mall was clearly not Disneyland. In her words, "Unlike the REC, Disneyland knows what it's doing and their people care". Another report came of Phyllis Patterson, seen wandering the 1995 mall with a very 20th century video camera "So that I can capture the faces before they all leave."

      When Hamburg says of Sheriff Plummer and his logical opposition to a move to the Pleasanton/Sunol area that "it says a lot about the way Alameda County operates", the actuality is that the REC's attitude and behavior from the beginning say volumes more about the way the REC operates.

      Clearly, all the opposition that the REC has generated and faces is of the REC's own creation.



cc: Sheriff Charles Plummer, Alameda County Sheriffs Department
Sheriff's Lt. Bill Mather, Alameda County Sheriffs Department


© 1997 Cassiel C. MacAvity