News: 1999-08.23-Reporter

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T: Keeping it real
S: Pleasure Faire sponsors strive for authenticity
A: Victor Balta/Staff Writer
D: Aug 23, 1999
C: (c) 1999 Vacaville Reporter

With just one week left until opening day, actors and vendors were making their nearly final preparations Sunday for the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, which is making its home at the Nut Tree this year.

Most of the participants were in full costume Sunday, since it was the last day to get their outfits approved. Organizers keep very tight requirements on costumes to keep the authentic feel of an Elizabethan country fair.

The whole show opens Saturday, and workers and actors are expected to be going at it until Friday night, according to Shannon Wood, a spokeswoman for the Faire.

Different guilds were setting up their scenes Sunday, putting the final touches on what is expected to be quite a sight all the way around the Faire.

The Seadogs were working together to hoist their 30-foot sail on the top of their scene, where they will be gathered during the event to sing songs and tell tales of their adventures on the high seas.

Queen Elizabeth - also known as Gay Linn Kirkpatrick of Pleasant Hill, who works as an administrative assistant in Walnut Creek - was fully dressed in a beige gown with purple ribbon.

She is the only person allowed to wear purple because she is royalty. Kirkpatrick also has a completely purple gown in her wardrobe, probably to emphasize the point.

Actors were getting their costumes approved for authenticity, based on what was actually in style and available during Elizabethan times. Wood said, for example, that costumes can't contain any corduroy because it didn't exist then. Also, since coloring for clothes came from nature, bright oranges and other colorings won't be present.

Vendors were hard at work putting together their booths, while jousters were laying out the ground rules for their events.

The jousting, which is real and not choreographed, is one of the main attractions at the Faire.

"It's worse than football," Wood said. "To see someone falling from atop a horse ... These are professional athletes, they are not actors."

The jousters have squires on hand who tend to them if they are injured during the events, which are held three times each day.

"It's a one-of-a-kind event," Wood said. "The crowd always gets really into it."

Settling into a new home for the first time in decades, Faire organizers have been working into a new format, with more space and more spectacle than they had before.

The new location should be of interest to people who regularly attended the Faire in Novato and will have to adjust to a new surrounding.

"It should be very interesting," Wood said. "It's just like a new town where all your friends live."

T: Antioch warily awaits its turn
A: Mike Adamick/Staff Writer

When the Renaissance Pleasure Faire proposed moving into Lagoon Valley last year, it raised the hackles of residents who feared traffic would be intolerable, that "immorality" would slip into the public park.

When the Elizabethan-era theme park proposed moving onto private land at Nut Tree this year, the idea met less hostility, but still raised questions about what 10,000 visitors a day would do for local roadways.

When it ends its eight-weekend run in Vacaville in October, it may find local politics in Antioch - where it is pursuing a permanent home - just as sticky as in Lagoon Valley.

Traffic obstacles, as well as the resurrected issue of morality, appear to threaten the theme park's proposed permanent home in Contra Costa County. Even so, Faire officials say Vacaville will provide the Faire a home for just one year.

The Faire, which operated for 30 years in Novato, was forced out of Marin County by a burgeoning housing development.

Though the roadways near a 2,700-acre development in Antioch can cope with extra traffic, some residents don't want the Faire, according to city officials.

"They're saying, 'We don't care if the roads can handle the traffic, we're still concerned with traffic tie-ups and jams,' " according to Victor Carniglia, an Antioch city planner.

Shannon Wood, a Faire spokeswoman, said traffic studies already have been completed and more studies are being commissioned to make sure the Faire will fit in with the environment.

Carniglia said some Antioch residents have voiced concerns about the morality of the theme park. Some Vacaville residents complained last year that actors at the Faire wore revealing costumes.

Wood said the Faire offers family entertainment and even has special areas for children to participate in activities. Also, schools are welcome to have field trips to the Faire.

Mostly, however, the city of Antioch is waiting for an environmental report on the impact the Faire would have on city services and infrastructure, said Carniglia. The proposed location for the Antioch Faire is in a wooded valley, much like the Novato location.

Novato officials also want to make sure the Faire will not interfere with nearby housing developments, said Carniglia.