By Narbeh Minassian
To quote a popular English saying, the Sterling Renaissance Festival does what it says on the tin. A summer of fantasy, adventure, and family fun starting on the weekend of July 7th, this attraction offers something to you that museums and books can only offer to your imagination.
A carefully reconstructed Elizabethan village spanning over 30 acres provides the setting. Sterling becomes a wooden time-machine, complete with pubs, jousting arenas, more than 15 outdoor stages, and royal residences. The occupants of Warwick village are comprised of professional actors performing roles up and down the Elizabethan social hierarchy; from lords and ladies to beggars and wenches, you may even be lucky to come across Queen Elizabeth herself as she ostentatiously strolls through her Queendom. With this, the illusion is set.
From illusion to experience, the village is brought to life by the various performances running throughout the summer. The festival boasts a forty member professional company, showcasing skills in swordplay and jousting, which are two quintessential Elizabethan spectacles. Daredevils put their bodies on the line in feats of balancing skills and heights, with some risky sword-handling thrown in (literally) for good measure. Of course, Renaissance England wouldn’t be Renaissance England without many a musical and dance act on almost every other corner, which includes the unmistakable sounds of the Celtic bagpipes and a regularly-staged comedy show.
The English may not be known for their food these days but back in the 16th century they were one of the leading culinary pioneers, and the festival does not hold back in providing the chefs capable of emulating their Elizabethan predecessors. Specialties include succulent Turkey leg, her Majesty’s steak-on-a-stake, lighter fare, and desserts. You’d expect no less than the finest ale and beer from an English pub, and Warwick village does not disappoint. And like a true English villager, you can enjoy all this even in weather most English.
As an English Literature student from England, keen Elizabethan reader, and frequent visitor to London’s Globe Theater, I hold the highest expectations when it comes to the authenticity and accuracy of any attempted reproduction of one of England’s most iconic eras. With this in mind, you can trust me when I say long live the Sterling Renaissance!
Sterling Renaissance Festival
15385 Farden Road
Sterling, NY 13156