Elizabeth, the reigning queen is the main focus at "PennFest" and all the elegance of that era is brought to life in vivid detail. Allthough the faire is a dry faire (you CAN purchase wines to be consumed outside of the grounds), the lack of beverages does not take away from the atmosphere. The faire is set in the scenic Mount Hope vineyards in Pennsylvania and the cast of players take their parts very seriously adding to the feel of the faire. The food stands offer a wide assortment of tantalizing tastes for your senses and the jousting is well done. There are no pubs so in turn there are no pub sings save the shows themselves, but the enthusiam that the players bring to them make up for it. Faire-go'ers in costume are treated with quite a bit of respect and almost seem to be of the nobility, and that took some getting used to. Having "rennies" drop at your feet and address you as they do makes you feel quite at home in the shire. The land is hilly (not quite as much as Colorado or New York) so I suggest a comfortable pair of boots or shoes if you plan on spending quite a bit of time there. It's very family oriented and the traditional "sailor's mouth" is discouraged, so children are less likely to pick up "bad habits" at the faire. The artisans and craftspeople are very period although there are some things that appear out of place (take the gyro ride for instance...) but as I said earlier, the faire is overall well done. Congrads to the staff for showing us the elegance that is Queen 'Lizzy's trademark.
A few sit-down pubs have been added, a beached pirate ship selling weapons has been built up and several areas have been redone. Good job on all of the revamping. Unfortunately, it seemed that the cast was spread extremely thin and could not (or did not wish to) interact with patrons, garbed or not. Something that I found extremely disappointing, but perhaps somewhat understandable. My biggest complaint about the festival remains the fact that the paths are blacktopped in most areas; while allowing handicapped patrons a chance to experience faire, I still feel that this distracts quite a bit from the faire and adds an enormous amount of radiant heat for the often heavily-garbed patrons and performers to suffer through. On the weekend that we attended, there was also some confusion about acts - one was listed in the program but was not scheduled to be at the show that week. Many patrons, myself included, sat at an empty stage and waited patiently for 45 minutes before giving up and wandering off. A notice at the stage area would have been helpful (as would have someone announcing this information) and might have avoided a lot of grumbles. I still believe that the faire is worth a day trip for those in the area and hope someday to return to the shire.
Visit the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire's WebSite.