From The Big Bang Theory leading prime-time TV ratings to the recent star-studded cast announcements for Star Wars: Episode VII, geek is chic.
Which is why the Enchanted Lakes Renaissance Faire and Marketplace is embracing comic-con culture this weekend with patrons dressed up in not only Renaissance garb but also other costumes derived from steampunk, cosplay, Star Wars and beyond.
They are people who are diehard fanatics, and I say let them dress up. Who cares? They are not hurting anybody, says Kim Bordner, founder of the event. Go out, have fun and do something funny.
In its fourth year, the Renaissance Faire will continue to present full-armor jousts, music, a league of characters and food vendors. Bordner says this year, the family-friendly event includes an expansion of children’s activities – of which she’s expecting kiddie jousting with swimming noodles to be a new favorite. There will also be a royal wedding of an unwilling princess and a Barbarian invasion (by two people, Bordner admits).
With the first day of the event falling on Friday the 13th, Bordner says she wanted to take advantage of the superstitious day with something new.
The whole storyline for previous years is that there’s this rip in the space-time continuum, and it allows our time period of 1350 to 1650 to come through, she says.
Being it’s Friday the 13th, there’s a whole bunch of rips that allow all sorts of things to come through. So we’re looking at people to have Star Wars,’ Star Trek,’ Doctor Who,’ The Hobbit,’ whatever costumes. We have a guy coming who will be dressed as a Ghostbuster.
In more recent years, new generations of fans have embraced what has been labeled geek culture. From the popularity of big-budget fantasy and comic book movies to the reprisal of Dungeons and Dragons game sets, this niche of fanatics has become a substantial presence in pop culture.
Bordner thinks of it as the revenge of the nerds.
People have been this way for years. They have had these secret things they didn’t want to tell anybody because they would think they’re weird. Now there’s a new generation who has decided that I don’t have to be what everybody thinks I have to be,’ she says. If I want to dress up in armor and beat the tar out of somebody, than darn it, it’s my right to do so.’
Bordner says she has informed the event’s entertainers, and some are interested in participating. She says she will wait to see how well the geek theme goes over before establishing it as an annual part of the festival, but she believes that opening up the Faire to other fanatics could bring together a larger community.
She says if it’s successful, she would like to bring in comic book artists as well as trading card and action figure vendors.
There are people out there who probably wouldn’t come to a Renaissance fair because it’s a bunch of geeks running around in these costumes, talking in English accents and watching jousting all day. But when you open it up, everybody goes crazy. If it goes over well, we might just stick with that and make it a complete fantasy fair, she says.
As a community event, the event uses a portion of the proceeds to help support Steuben County Park, which is their host site. Bordner says since the park is planning a remodel to become ADA-compliant, the Faire wants to continue to support the park just as much as the park supports the Faire.
We’re really trying to establish ourselves as something totally different than your average little festival downtown that has arts and crafts and things like that, she says. Yes, we also have arts and crafts, but we also have jousting, we have swordplay, we have musicians – we have a little bit of everything.