Going Back in Time

At mid-day, horns blow and all the village of Warwick, England goes silent. Vendors cease calling to potential buyers in efforts to sell their wares. Smiths lay aside their mallets and metal. The queen is about to make her royal appearance!

For 41 years the Sterling Renaissance Festival has been inviting visitors to leave modern life behind and go back in time to Shakespearean England right here in the Finger Lakes Region. The festival hosts a summer of jousts, stage laughs, food you can’t find elsewhere, and shopping for unique artisan works.

The festival runs Saturdays and Sundays from July through mid-August. There is something for everyone in the 2017 performance lineup from a circus to the Blades of Death, from the sword-fighting Don Juan to the Vodca family gypsy dancers. The high-quality performances are put on by actors cast through national auditions. Professional jousters also try dislodging each other from horseback throughout the day, something that you won’t see anywhere else in the region. These events are included with admission as well as the musical performances which range from minstrels to Scottish bagpipes. Time period games, rides, and rounds on the warhorses are available for extra charge.

After watching a stage singer or jubilant musician perform, taking a stroll under the tall trees of the village leads to the Upper Shire Warwick Commons Area which is filled with vendors of both hearty meals and beautifully crafted items for purchase. Menu item options range from spanakopita to juicy turkey legs as big as your forearm. Beverages include soft or robust drinks, but visitors must show their identification at the entrance to partake in alcoholic beverages. Artisan vendors also offer a range of high quality products not often found in one spot including, but not limited to, swords, jewelry, bed frames, photography and art, hammocks, and hand-made soaps. “Ye Lady Visa and the Master of Cards” are honored by most merchants.

All actors and vendors dress in costume and speak with accent in old English. Visitors are encouraged to dress the part too and clothing rentals are available down the hill from the entrance. Flowered ribbon headdresses, face-painting, and mugs for refills are available for purchase in the village.

The Sterling Renaissance Festival runs until Sunday, August 13, for the 2017 year. Visit sterlingfestival.com for more information.


Story and photo by Gabrielle L. Wheeler

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