Hard-Faire or Soft-Faire
If you have been to a good number of Renaissance Festivals, you have noticed that there are two basic types: the hard-Faire and the soft-Faire. The are easy to classify and each have their own atmosphere and their feel.
A quick addendum – I am not trying to say one of these types of faires is better than the other. I am broadening your vocabulary and explaining the differences between two types of faires. I go to both types of faires every year and there are things that I love about both, as you will see ifyou keep reading.
The hard-Faire has fixed location brick-and-mortar style buildings. The Hard-Faire has the look of a village, a town or maybe the surrounding community outside of a castle. When you walk through the Hard-Faire you have the feeling of being encompassed in a medieval village surrounded by the sites and sounds of the town. Watching the king and queen arrive, following the crowd to the public house of the tournament area. The Georgia Renaissance Fetsival and the Arizona Renaissance Festival are great examples of this type of faire. Walk through the gates and see if you don’t have that feeling of stepping into another world. It has permanence. It has structure. The shops have all developed their own character, the outside and inside both adorned with the character of the people that own them.
For the merchants it has to be nice to have a brick and mortar building to secure your wares in. When they come to town to ‘live’ at that faire for several weeks or a matter of months, they aren’t immediately setting up a tent. They are moving back into a building that in some cases, they own.
Tents, tents and more tents! If the Hard-faire is permanence and a village, the Soft-Faire is a gypsy caravan, a traveling circus and that is one of the things I love about it. The transient atmosphere of the Soft-Faire, the feeling that they just blew into town is exciting and fun. The rows of merchants tents, the booths of food that take the form of everything from trailers to pavilions. The outdoor atmosphere created by the merchants barking from the front of their tents. It is carnival-esque and exciting. The Tennessee Renaissance Fetsival is a Soft-faire as is the Kentucky Highlands Reniassance Festival.
The Soft-Faire might have some aspects of the Hard-Faire and vice-versa. You will see brick-and-mortar style buildings at a Soft-Faire and of course you will see tents at the Hard-Faire, but look at the majority of the buildings, especially the merchants showplaces and you will know what type of faire you are at. And don’t become jaded for one faire type or the other. Visit them all and don’t start to compare just because one has buildings and one has tents – love them for what they are and attend. Go every weekend that you can. If you are blessed to be in an area that has multiple faires… go to them all.