Pirates, not “of the Caribbean” but “of La Belle France” are to be found along with Lords, Ladies, a King and Queen, mounted knights, jugglers, merchants, troubadours, elves, fairies, a puppet named Mort, even a few rag-wrapped lepers at the 9th Annual Greater St Louis Renaissance Faire being held on four successive weekends, May 19th through June 10th, Saturdays and Sundays, plus Memorial Day.
Appropriate to a region initially explored and settled by French Jesuits, tradesmen, and colonists, the village of Petit Lyon, nestled in the forest, celebrates 16th Century French culture, although one may find an uncommon number of English-accented participants “visiting” the community.
Petit Lyon is located in Rotary Park, a few minutes drive in the country from the interstate cuts through Wentzville, Missouri, about an hour’s drive north and west of St Louis’s Gateway Arch. Petit Lyon of 1523 exists during the reign of Francois I, a contemporary of Henry VIII, patron of Leonardo da Vinci, and founder of the College of France.
The village occupies a hillside in Rotary Park with some permanent structures supplemented by vendor’s tents. Atop it is the basin where the tournaments take place.
Visitors may add to their own participation by renting period costumes available at the gate.
A booklet given you when you buy your ticket includes background, a list of vendors and activities, and a map of the grounds.
Among nine permanent stages is one that resembles a ship and hosts a colorful if scurvy collection of pirates known as the Jolly Rogers. Gypsy belly dancers perform at another stage. Comedies are presented at others.
Among the 30 acts performing on stage this year will be the musicians of Elvendrums, 3 Pints Gone, the Limey Birds, and a new act called Robin Hood. There are also the Hospitaler Knights encampment, the Viking camp and longboat display, a petting zoo, predator demonstrations by the World Bird Sanctuary of Eureka, Missouri, and a collier’s camp.
Atop the hill is the crater-like jousting field surrounded by viewers, including the Royal Court, witnessing the combat of mounted knights who tilt lances at each other, then meet on foot to slash at each other with their swords.
Ninety vendors offer everything from French pastries and turkey legs to Renaissance fashions for the discriminating fairgoer, tarot readings, face painting, and no shortage of swords and Medieval weaponry.
Gate opens daily at 10am and remains open until 6pm. Tickets are $12.00 for one day for adults, $20.00 for the two-day weekend, $9.00 and $14.00 for seniors and students, and $6.00 and $8.00 for children 12 and under, five and under are free. Season passes are $45.00, $32.00, and $18.00. Parking is free. Pets must be on a leash and proof of vaccinations on you.
Information, photos, and a $2.00 coupon are all available at the website at http://www.stlrenfaire.com/about/index.html .