Ohio Ren Fair Officially Welcomes Time Travelers

DSCF4216 (3)While we might have to wait for November 14th for the fifth annual Time Travelers’ Ball, we don’t have to wait for time travel. Or, rather, we don’t have to wait very long.

Ren Fest12 take 1 057Although time is relative (and wibbly-wobbly), just over a month from now, visitors to the Elizabethan village of Willy Nilly on the Wash will include an influx of time travelers, and possibly some characters from parallel universes. On September 12th and 13th, the Ohio Renaissance Festival (ORF) will hold its first Time Travel weekend. The website encourages visitors to attend dressed as “your favorite character inspired by a movie, TV series, comic book, Sci-fi or fantasy work.” (But only your favorite character. No secondary favorites or passing fancies here.)

The nature of Medieval and Renaissance festivals inspires a hint of time travel on its own. Time travel is, essentially, what such experiences aim to accomplish by recreating the past. Those who put on such events sometimes struggle to balance the atmosphere necessary for a guest’s suspension of disbelief and the glittery cloud of fandoms, pop culture, and general nerdiness their customers and employees bring with them.

Ren Fest12 take 1 046While the ORF has always prided itself on education and historical accuracy, this conscious effort to include the diverse tribes of geekery who attend (and work and vend at) the event comes as the pinnacle of a happy shift from the ages of black-market steampunk. It wasn’t so long ago when vendors had to smuggle in ‘punked wares. I met a number of vendors who were happy to go into the back and bring out some truly beautiful steampunk, clockpunk, and other ‘punk creations after we’d talked, but they weren’t supposed to display them out front.

However, entertainers have always been keen to join in genre-blurring play, and many a cosplayer dressed as the 10th Doctor has earned cautionary warnings and threats from the Queen’s guards. In the past couple years, festival guests could even find goggles (is there anything more steampunk?) openly for sale with all the other amazing merchandise in the front of the shops.

DSCF4219 (2)It’s exciting to see one of the biggest renaissance/medieval festivals in the Midwest following the example of events like the Kentucky Highland Renaissance Fair, which has hosted a steampunk weekend for some time. It’s even more exciting that not only steampunks, but pretty much all fantasy/scifi genres will be celebrated this year at the ORF. According to the official note for the Time Travel weekend, “Everyone is welcome!”

The downside? We only have a month to come up with costumes.

Leigh Hood is a rare beast of the Cincinnati wilderness typically preoccupied with writing, nerding, and filming The Spittoon List. For more articles and stories by M. Leigh Hood, look HERE.

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