The Michiana Renaissance Festival returns to Kamm Island Park in Mishawaka Aug. 23. (Submitted photo)
The Michiana Renaissance Festival returns to Kamm Island Park in Mishawaka Aug. 23. (Submitted photo)

Archived Story

History comes to life

Published 10:49am Thursday, August 14, 2014

MISHAWAKA — A festival has been declared in honor of the reign of her royal majesty, Queen Eleanor of Kamm. Loyal subjects, old allies and former enemies — better known as the people of Michiana — are invited once again to celebrate this momentous occasion.

The Michiana Renaissance Festival is an annual event put on by an organization called Entertaining History. Visitors are invited to join in a unique take on a historical reenactment Aug. 23 and 24 as dozens of performers and vendors come together in Mishawaka’s Kamm Island Park.

“Basically the Michiana Renaissance Festival is a place where you can come and have fun in some historical periods. A lot of people don’t realize that renaissance festivals cover more than the renaissance,” said Jonathan Zook, president of the Entertaining History. “We have a section dedicated to medieval renaissance, we have a section dedicated to the Golden Age of Piracy, a section for the time of the Vikings and a section for fantasy storybooks.”

Zook said the fantasy storybook section is usually a hit with visitors.

“We use Grimm’s Fair Tales. Stories are a great way to get an idea of how the culture worked in the time period,” he said.

Several organizations from all over Michiana collaborate for the event, including the Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival, which performs 10- to 15-minute Shakespeare skits, and the Brethren of the Great Lakes pirate group from Niles, which handles the Golden Age of Piracy section of the festival.

“When people think of renaissance festivals, they usually think they’re boring, but I guarantee that we do everything that is not boring,” Zook said. “Our secret is that we are not in hardcore historical reenactment. Our goal is to trick people into finding a way to learn about history.”

One method of this

“trickery” is performed on six stages throughout Kamm Island Park, where entertainers perform shows every 45 minutes. Acts range from acrobatics and juggling, to theater and comedy.

“We also have three live still combat groups. These are people who are basically swinging real swords at each other,” Zook said. “Our pirates will be doing black powder demonstrations, too.”

Zook said every show performed at the festival requires guest interaction.

“When a guest comes in, they shouldn’t feel like they are watching something. They should feel like they are a part of something happening,” he said.

In addition to entertainment, vendors will be selling period-appropriate food, including the pre-requisite turkey legs.

“It’s kind of funny though. Turkey isn’t actually a historically accurate food. Turkey is a new world food. We started eating that in America,” he said.

Those interested in attending the festival can purchase weekend passes online at MichianaRenFest.com. Tickets are $12 each for adults, $9 each for seniors and $7 each for children ages 6 to 12. Tickets can also be purchased at the gate.

Visitors purchasing tickets at the event can receive a $1 discount from the admission price for every canned good they bring to the festival. All donations are given to the Mishawaka Food Pantry. Zook said thousands of canned goods were donated at last year’s event, and the organization hopes to collect even more this year.

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