Nfld. & Labrador

Mount Pearl gets royal with first renaissance festival

Darren Hann, one of the founders of Sci-Fi on the Rock, has unveiled a plan to switch genres.

One founder of Sci-Fi on the Rock is moving to a different genre

Darren Hann is launching the Mount Pearl Renaissance Festival this summer. (Submitted by Darren Hann)

Darren Hann has been to a lot of conventions in his time, both in Newfoundland and Labrador and abroad, but he noticed something was missing from the local scene — a renaissance festival.

He plans to fix that this summer by launching the Mount Pearl Renaissance Festival.

"Everybody's welcome and if you're coming, come dressed up. It doesn't have to be a very fancy costume," Hann said. "Whatever you can put together to make it look like you lived back in that time."

Hann is a staple fixture in the local geek community, having helped found Sci-Fi On The Rock, and he said he still lends a hand with conventions in the province and on the mainland.

One of his recent ventures was to help organize the Trepassey Pirates Festival last summer.

As far as he knows, there has never been a renaissance festival here, but he argued it's perfectly suited to the province.

"I think it would be something really nice because of two things — one, because of the history Newfoundland has, and two, because the amount of cosplayers and the imagination that the people have here in this province is unbelievable. And I really want to put the two together."

He describes a renaissance festival as a cross between an outdoor comic book convention and a live stage show.

Phil Swift and his students will take part in the Mount Pearl Renaissance Festival. (Elizabeth Whitten/CBC)

Part of the weekend's experience will be an interactive storyline. On the first day of the Mount Pearl Renaissance Festival a black knight is set to appear and steal the crown jewels from the king and queen, said Hann. In response, a white knight will appear and try to capture the black knight's treasure map. The next day, audience members will be knighted to go on a treasure hunt.

There will also be activities scheduled, said Hann. Jack Axes will be there, showing people how to throw axes and Terra Nova School of Swords will also play a big part in the weekend.

"There will be some sword classes and demonstrations as well, like little mini-workshops," said Terra Nova School of Swords head coach and founder Phil Swift.

Swift's school teaches a number of sword styles, including Italian long sword, Italian and Spanish rapier, French small sword, British sabre, Scottish broadsword, as well as archery at its O'Leary Avenue location.

Swift and his students are taking part in the weekend's stolen crown jewels storyline and with live action role-playing group Epoch on the Rock they'll even pull off a melee, or group combat, for spectators to enjoy.

Swift teaches various sword styles at the Terra Nova School of Swords, which he founded two years ago. (Elizabeth Whitten/CBC)

When Swift heard Hann was launching the Mount Pearl Renaissance Festival, he jumped at the chance to get involved.

"To be honest, if Darren hadn't started, I would have started it myself. I just didn't have the time because I have a newborn child. Myself and the owner of the Geek Pub had this idea a long, long time ago but we just never had the time," said Swift.

"Everywhere else has a ren fair but here, so why doesn't Newfoundland have a ren fair? We have a huge nerd population. So something should have happened a long time ago."

On top of spectacles, Hann said there will also be artisanal crafts vendors, selling things like leatherwork, candles and soap, among other products.

There needs to be feasting, so Hann is still taking food vendor applications but he is asking that they have some type of cover or facade to maintain the historical look.

"I hope this is going to start up and go on again every year and continue on every year, and grow bigger and better every year. That's my plan for it," he said.

The festival is planned for Aug. 27-28 at the rugby field on Ruth Avenue. Tickets for children ages five to 12 will be $10 per day and adult tickets will be $15 per day.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Elizabeth Whitten

Freelance contributor

Elizabeth Whitten is a journalist and editor based in St. John's. When she’s not chasing her next story, she's cuddling with her dog and reading a good book.

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