Preview: Minnesota Renaissance Festival

August 6, 2012 6:00 AM

(credit: Amy Rea)

Minnesota Renaissance Festival
Renaissance Festival Grounds
3525 145th St W
Shakopee, MN 55379
(952) 445-7361
Dates: August 18 through September 30
Admission: Children 4 and under – free, Children over 4 – $12.95, Adults – $21.95, Seniors – $19.95; Tickets purchased online are cheaper than prices at the event.The Minnesota Renaissance Festival will open for the 42nd time at the end of the summer. What started in 1971 as a small festival in Jonathan, Minnesota has become the largest Renaissance Festival in the country today. This year, the festival will take place on weekends from August 18th to September 30th and offer some new attractions as well as many of the old favorites.
ren fest ar dancers Preview: Minnesota Renaissance Festival

(credit: Amy Rea)

New Events for 2012

Exciting new events and themed weekends have been planned to make this year’s fair the best yet. Some of the new events include a fairy house competition where all attendees are invited to take place in a contest to design and display their own fairy houses. The houses will be judged by real fairies with discount tickets and prizes for participants. Another new feature is the weiner dog races during pet weekend where Dotsons compete for prizes. Additionally, historic cooking demonstrations will be available with instruction from Alice the Cook. Alice will be sharing techniques and recipes used during the Renaissance period.

If you’re not sure which weekend you want to visit during the festival, go during a themed weekend. The themes planned are:

      • August 18th and 19th: Italian Carnivale and Pet Fest
      • August 25th and 26th: Royal Ale Fest
      • September 1st, 2nd and 3rd: Silk Road and Discover the Riches
      • September 8th and 9th: Highland Fling
      • September 15th and 16th: Wine, Chocolate and Roses
      • September 22nd and 23rd: Oktoberfest
      • September 29th and 30th: Shamrocks and Shenanigans

Popular events that are coming back this year include:

ren fest joust Preview: Minnesota Renaissance Festival

(credit: Renaissance Festival)

Live Jousting

The Medieval sport of kings is a main attraction at the fair. Armoured knights mount their steeds to demonstrate jousting as it was in the 16th century. The jousting event takes place three times a day during the duration of the festival.

Turkey Legs

One of the most popular food items at the fair is the turkey leg. Festival-goers can be seen roaming the festival with a turkey leg in hand. Although there is a large variety of Medieval foods to be sampled at the fair, the turkey legs are the delicious treat that truly capture the spirit of the Renaissance.

Related: 5 Must-Read Books By Minnesota Authors

ref fest fire eating Preview: Minnesota Renaissance Festival

(credit: Renaissance Festival)

Elephant Rides

The Renaissance Festival welcomes many animals to the fairgrounds, always a favorite attraction for both adults and children. There is an interactive petting zoo filled with farm animals and birds. More exotic animals can be seen as well. Elephants, camels and llamas are saddled up to offer rides.

Children’s Crafts

There is an entire area of the festival dedicated to children called Cartwheel Cove. This area contains crafts including wandmaking as well as balloon animals and kid-friendly entertainment. King Henry appears daily to knight any children who wish to become knights of the fair.


The festival is loaded with entertainment. Many of the fairgoers themselves dress up and speak in the Old English that is associated with the Renaissance. In addition, there are wandering dance troupes throughout the grounds and stages situated around the fair for scheduled performances.

Related: Best Historical Sites In Minnesota

Andrea Wodele is a freelance writer who has lived in the Twin Cities for eight years. She loves covering all things Minnesota and her work can be found on