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September 30, 2014

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FESTIVAL:

Renaissance men — and women — to feast on fair’s traditions

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For three days each year, thousands of people in Sunset Park go back in time to the Renaissance.

If You Go

  • What: Age of Chivalry Renaissance Festival
  • When: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday
  • Where: Sunset Park
  • Tickets: $10 per day for adults, $5 per day for seniors and children ages 5 to 12, free for ages 4 and younger; lvrenfair.com

Map of Sunset Park

Sunset Park

2601 E Sunset Road, Las Vegas

Like a scene out of Mark Twain’s “A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court,” festivalgoers will step through a time warp at Sunset Park this weekend.

The 16th annual Age of Chivalry Renaissance Festival will return Friday through Sunday.

In the past decade 33,000 to 38,000 fans have attended each three-day event, according to Brian Saliba, program administrator for marketing and special events at the Clark County Parks and Recreation Department.

The sagging economy isn’t keeping vendors or performers away from this year’s festival, Saliba says. Almost all of the 150 vendors are returning to the fair.

“There’s been no major reduction,” he says. “We have over 3,000 performers every year — from theater groups to strolling performers who are on the national circuit — and at least 95 percent of them have said they will be here this year.”

Jousting matches, strolling minstrels and jugglers will perform among fans, thousands of whom break out their Renaissance garb to join in the merriment.

Adding to the festive atmosphere will be three bands — the Wild Celts, the Prodigals and Swagger — as well as a bawdy juggler, belly dancers, story tellers, gladiators, sword fighters and folk singers.

One of the most popular attractions is the Pirate’s Parrot, a show that features a variety of parrots from around the world.

Saliba says one of the biggest hits last year was a newcomer to the Vegas festival — the Boar’s Head Feaste, an interactive dinner theater featuring a six-course medieval-style dinner of marinated breast of chicken, smoked sausages, ribs, salad and dessert.

The Feaste was created by Terry Knisley, general manager of food and beverage at Big Bear ski resort in Southern California.

Knisley, who has a catering company on the side, was one of the first to host interactive renaissance dinner theater 25 years ago. During his heyday, he would put on shows 16 weekends per year, five shows per weekend, across the country.

But five years ago he decided to hang up the Boars Head Feaste.

“Too many others were doing it and it was getting harder and harder to do,” he says. “Here in California you have to get permits for the booths and, financially, it was just becoming more and more difficult.”

So he quit until someone sold him on the idea of trying it in Las Vegas last year.

He was a hit and he enjoyed the experience.

“People in Las Vegas enjoy it and they want to be part of the show,” Knisley says. “They love to get involved — it’s an alter-ego thing for some people. They like the involvement.”

A crew of 10 puts on the theater, including five main characters who put on the show.

Knisley says he’s basically the innkeeper but does a little performing.

There will be eight shows this year, two Friday, four Saturday and two Sunday.

There is seating for 160, so reservations are recommended.

Saliba says the Feaste may be a major attraction, but people come for many different reasons.

Some come for more modest fare, such as the shepherd’s pie. “A lot of people just can’t get enough of it,” he says.

Others enjoy watching the historical reenactors or shopping.

“When you compare Vegas to most festivals on the national circuit, we do have the upper echelon of vendors,” Saliba says.

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