2012-08-16 / On the Town

Renaissance festival returns to Moorpark next year

By Darleen Principe

Get ready to step back in time and return to the Renaissance.

A 25-acre field just outside Moorpark city limits will be transformed into an Elizabethan village next year, when a local team of modern-day Renaissance lovers brings the inaugural Nottingham Festival to eastern Ventura County.

The village is planned to sit inside an undeveloped 160-acre plot of land belonging to the Cassar family of Moorpark and to be open to the public for three weekends from Aug. 17, 2013, through Labor Day, Sept. 2, 2013.

Jan Glasband, co-executive director of the Nottingham Festival, said the nonprofi t project will be a massive endeavor but should bring national attention to the region when it comes to fruition.

The proposed annual festival will be similar to the original Renaissance Pleasure Faire, the three-week event that began in Agoura Hills in 1963 and now attracts more than 200,000 visitors from all over the world to its current home in Irwindale, Calif.

“Our goal is to make this Renaissance fair, or festival, a lot more traditional in the sense of it being more historically accurate,” Glasband said. “The plan is to make it more educational and definitely keep it as a nonprofit, where all the proceeds will be distributed among other local nonprofits and allocated

towards arts programming for young people in our community.”

The idea of bringing a Renaissance event to Ventura County has been a personal goal of Glasband’s for more than a decade.

“But there were too many hurdles at the time,” the Simi Valley resident said. “Although I had been doing a lot of theater projects, I didn’t know my way around enough to put an event like that together. Things have changed a lot since then.”

Building the fair

Glasband, who is also the artistic director of the Actors Repertory Theatre of Simi, met

Josie Hirsch, now the co-executive director of the festival, while running an arts academy at the Simi Valley Town Center.

The pair became fast friends and decided to work together to make their shared dream a reality.

Now Glasband’s theater company and the nonprofit Simi Valley Cultural Association are partnering to sponsor the three-week event.

The festival will feature vendor booths, entertainers, games and rides while trying to maintain a true-to-life depiction of the Renaissance era and providing an educational experience for visitors, Glasband said.

“We really believe in what we’re doing very wholeheartedly,” she said.

“ W e know it’s g o in g to bring a really positive focus to the eastern part of Ventura County, particularly Moorpark, Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley.”

Unlike other Renaissance fairs, which charge upward of $25 for admission, the Nottingham festival plans to charge

$ 15 for adults.

Children

12 and under will be admitted for free.

The event is also likely to produce an economic boost for Moorpark and surrounding areas, where fair participants are expected to patronize local gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants and hotels.

Andrew Elkins, general manager of the festival, said the event is a “throwback” to the days when the Renaissance Pleasure Faire was in Agoura.

“We’re not out to duplicate what’s already out there,” Elkins said.

“There’s not a lot of sense in doing that. What we’re trying to do is help you step back in time, help you escape the harsh realities of daily life and teach you something all at the same time.”

Elkins, who has more than 20 years of experience in the entertainment industry, served as general manager of the Renaissance

Pleasure Faire for the past six years.

“We parted ways in 2011, and I had been seeking a way to find a show where I could use my experience and talents,” the Simi resident said. “I just so happened to come across Josie and Jan’s plan, and I offered up my services.”

Elkins said the Nottingham team aims to be “more conscientious” of the past and steer clear of modern references and overly commercialized aspects of entertainment.

While building a festival from scratch is a huge project, it gives the team the opportunity to determine the best way to present its mission, he said.

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