EDIT SIX: 7/12, 11:00AM: I woke up this morning and had about a hundred new questions in my inbox, I'm sitting at the airport and don't have anything to do, so feel free to keep asking questions, I'll be around.

Last year, I quit my old job as a stage manager and performer and moved across the country to become the Entertainment Manager of the Georgia Renaissance Festival. I do everything from booking the entertainment acts to directing our local shows to building costumes and, occasionally, playing a fairy and sometimes a twi'lek.

I've seen some things that I can never unsee and firmly believe I have one of the coolest jobs in the universe.

It's...a very weird job. Lots of people ask me what it is, exactly, that I do, and since I'm tired of sorting fabric in my office, here we are. AMA!

Here is a FAQ:

  1. *I'm new to the Renaissance Faire, what should I expect?* - Expect anything and everything. There is tons to see and do, from stage shows to music to street performers to "living history" characters, to shopping and old-timey carnival rides to about as much food as you can possibly care to enjoy. Drink water. Wear Sunscreen. Wear practical shoes. Don't let anyone judge you for wanting to dress up in a fun costume. Live your best life.
  2. *Is the Ren Fest just a wretched hive of scum and villany and the occaisional orgy?* - Not really. While people tend to be more open minded, it's not a crazy sex party. I promise.
  3. *But Mah Historical Accuracy!* - Sorry bro. Check out the SCA, or any number of other wonderful historical reenactments that happen all over. The Renaissance Faire is a beautiful wonderful mishmash of all sort of crazy time periods, events, people, places and things, so there might be a little stormtrooper in your soup, but it's okay.
  4. Yes, you can contact me with info about your renaissance band or act. PM me and I will give you my contact info.

Proof: Look it's me and a magical dragon!

Comments: 1517 • Responses: 79  • Date: 

tovarish221195 karma

What strategies does your festival use to keep serfs in line and prevent invading hordes from sacking the surrounding hamlets?

CatieO1455 karma

Mostly beatings. We also try and keep them away from learning to read, I have found that that only leads to trouble. We looked in the land parceling, but it was easier to just section it off to the nobility and let them deal with it.

IAmRedBeard389 karma

Now you see the violence inherent in the system!

ImmortalScientist177 karma

Watery tart.

CatieO403 karma

If went around saying I was Emperor, just because some moistened bint lobbed a scimitar at me, they'd put me away.

TheGuyHooDoesTheThng755 karma

What's the craziest thing youve seen at your festival?

CatieO2342 karma

Oh man. It's hard to say. Some of my favorites from this season include:

  • Watching Boba Fett get into a fistfight with Ezio from Assassin's Creed over wanting to sit on the same bench.
  • A group of Furries performing a live interpretation of the soundtrack to Hamilton.
  • I saw a jouster take a lance to the thigh, that was rough (He wound up being okay but it was scary).
  • Lots of chainmaille bikinis. Just...so many.
    EDIT: Spelling

JustARandomFuck322 karma

How does a kinky, furry, guy in a suit and

CatieO, dropped in the middle of a forgotten

spot in Fairburn, Georgia by providence, impoverished, in squalor

grow up to sing Hamilton in a collar?

CatieO144 karma

Honestly this is the nicest thing anyone has ever done for me.

michaeldeese591 karma

Do you think there would be any interest in a similar festival but set in ancient times with more Roman and Greek influences?

CatieO462 karma

YES. Take my money. Please.

Arrestedevelopr533 karma

Are the wenches busty or lusty?

CatieO854 karma

Both, often at the same time, but never crusty or musty.

zurx504 karma

I worked at the AZ Renaissance festival for years and know the really interesting stories are from after the park closes, at the on site camping. Any of those stories you want to share?

CatieO810 karma

One time I got into a really heated match of Settlers of Catan with two jugglers and a contortionist. That was pretty CraY...but honestly most people are living on the road so they try and conserve money and resources and only go out a couple of times and get really crazy. We have a "prom" that raises money for people who run into medical emergencies on the road, that's a pretty crazy night, but for the most part, there aren't like crazy ragers every night.

The incessant drum circles, however, are a different story.

DeeDee_Z214 karma

The incessant drum circles, however, are a different story.

DearGawd . . .

Does yours end with the entire gathered crowd chanting, "You DON'T have to HOME but you CAN'T stay HERE". My opinion, that's the most off-putting "tradition" of my nearest faire.

CatieO274 karma

We have a really nice tradition at GARF of "pub sing", which is where the musicians all gather to play a final show. We end with a closing song that signals the end of the day and then cannon, so it's less chant-y and more singy. It's also one of the most fun events all day.

Spacedmonkey12484 karma

have you ever thought about doing a night time, adults only thing? My girlfriends and I have been saying for years, that that would be so cool and fun for us! I understand there is probably legal/ insurance issues with that. but it would be awesome!

CatieO486 karma

Absolutely! We're actually talking about expanding our events and doing more cool stuff like this, so stay turned!

Tomcfitz394 karma

Hey! Originally from ATL, and used to go to the renfaire every chance I got!

Just wanting to say that you put on a fantastic show, and "nunsense" or whatever they called it was the highlight of almost every time I went. Fantastic stuff. I need to come on down again.

Ummm... question... what are the pay ranges of the actors, if you dont mind? I'm looking for a job and it sounds like a blast. But I've got student loans so I can't work for minimum wage anymore

CatieO413 karma

Thank you for your kind words! I will pass that along. One of the highest honors in my life is getting to be in a group chat with the Nuns.

As for actor salaries, it kind of depends. Some big-name touring acts can make almost $2,000 a day at some Faires, and then we have some actors who ask to work as volunteers just because they love it here. There's a range of salaries and pay, it's just sort of depends on who you are and what job you're doing.

VenetianGreen158 karma

What kind of actors make the most money? I'd imagine it's the jousting knights?

Does the 'pay to throw a tomato at my face' dude make much?

What about the 'town drunk' character I always tend to see yelling and slurring in olde English. Does he get paid or is he just a drunk guy having fun?

CatieO184 karma

It honestly depends on a lot of factors. What they do, act recognition, where they are traveling from, do they need a place to stay, what is their going day rate...there is a lot of money to be made on the circuit, but it's hard to break into specifically because of that reason.

Also I'm not sure that guy works here.

rebel_alliance05313 karma

My aunt and her friends are obsessed. She recently got moved up in ranks. How does the ranking system work? King queen .......etc?

CatieO631 karma

It's not really a "ranking system", at least here. We recently got a new King and Queen, but they are actors hired and trained to play a role. We also let the actors have a lot of freedom in choosing their characters. We have a 8-week training/rehearsal process where they decide what type of character they want to play and build from there. It's sort of like DnD but in real life.

Many actors on our street cast have worked here for over ten years, and some of them prefer to play roles like peasants or "bad guys", but there's no set rule about "if you work here for X years, you get to be the Queen".

Eatinonshrimpboi297 karma

Solid management. People will always perform better and be happier if they have the power to define their own roles. Props bro

CatieO226 karma

Thanks bro.

Theandric242 karma

Have you thought about booking a heavy metal band with a fantasy or Renaissance theme like Gloryhammer or Rhapsody?

CatieO242 karma

YES!!!! I'm working on it. Trust me.

Super_Digital200 karma

I've heard some "stories" about some bitchin parties that happen after hours. Any truth there and if so care to share an interesting story?

CatieO385 karma

I know nothing, can say nothing, and can neither confirm or deny anything to the like.

BolonelSanders199 karma

I don’t know anything about Renaissance Festivals, but whenever they’re in movies/tv you’ve got your knights, kings, queens, wizards, etc. Does a typical festival have a fun religious aspect? Like are there ever folks dressed as priests, bishops, monks, nuns, etc.? Medieval and early modern European religion is such a huge part of the actual history of the time period, but I can also imagine the modern sensibilities of some folk being not into it.

CatieO283 karma

This year on cast, we actually had a guy playing Cardinal Wolsey. Florida has the Borgia Pope on their cast as well.

As for individual people coming, I saw a few Bishops and popes during the season. There were also a couple of actual nuns who came, but I don't think that counts.

Since we have Henry the 8th as king this year, you can't really have him without at least answering questions about the Church of England once in awhile, but I also recognize that religion can be a sensitive topic with many patrons, so we try to present historical characters but without religious overtones.

WaitwhatamIdoinghere55 karma

Ahhh yes, Borgia. That guy has more pope outfits than I can shake a stick at. Greetings from the Florida faire scene btw!!

CatieO18 karma

Hey faire friend!

dathyni175 karma

How do you respond the people complaining about / hating on what they see as the increasing commercialization of faires?

CatieO482 karma

I think it's a good thing. Renn Faires are sort of the last bastion of live entertainment that remains accessibly priced -- and they happen all over the country. To me, it seems like a lot of people complaining are also the worst gatekeepers. The argument against commercialization involves a lot of statements about how people coming aren't "real" rennies, they aren't dedicated enough fans, that kind of thing. If you want your organization to survive and be a resource for people looking to work in the creative arts, you have to be willing to give a little.

Emasons163 karma

I've been to the Bristol Ren Faire North of Chicago a few times. I have an uncle that worked there as a jouster for a number of years and is now building his own location with a group of guys. My wife made me a fire mage costume when we went a few years ago and the last time we went, I repurposed it into a BBQ mage. Strapped 2 sets of giant tiki forks and spoons to myself.

What do you do in the off season? I've always thought it would be a ton of fun to become a faire person, but with bills to pay and such, it seems like it would be difficult.

CatieO207 karma

This is actually my job year-round! I also am an actor and performer, but running the Renaissance Fair is my day job exclamation I'm not sure how I got so lucky, but here I am.

drummer_San253 karma

speech-to-text detected! :D

CatieO160 karma

You caught me.

Malbranch152 karma

What's the worst blacksmithing snafu you've seen/witnessed/heard about/crisis controlled?

I know you haven't been at the entertainment manager role for very long, but Ren fairs aren't something you go into cold, so I'm assuming you've been around for a bit, right?

CatieO317 karma

One time I caught a piece of rebar I'd just pulled out of the fire with my bare hand without thinking. Thankfully I caught it up high enough to where I only got a little burnt, but that could have been terrible. (I should also mention that I'm a blacksmith, so most of my "good" stories are dumb shit that I did when I was apprenticing and just starting out.

I've been around/adjacent to faires my whole life. My background is performing Shakespeare, but I have extensive experience in improv, blacksmithing like I said, costume design and other theatre-type things like stage management, so this job is sort of a perfect blend of every weird skill I've ever picked up. I feel really lucky to be here!

Fenriswulf72 karma

The smithies I know teach people (invite them in to learn a few basics), the rules are, long pants, covered feet, and no gloves. Why no gloves you might ask? You only grab the hot end once.

CatieO55 karma

Also because it fucking sucks when you get a hot red-hot ember that jumps down your glove, you get way more burned trying to get it out then you would just shaking it off of your skin and moving on.

lovebyletters143 karma

I work in event planning and weddings are basically the worst — the idea of an 8 week one just made me physically shudder, so thanks for that! :P

What methods/tools do you use for keeping organized? I know I personally live off of spreadsheets & automated to-do lists (remind me of X task on Y date).

CatieO232 karma

My background is in stage management, so I treat everything like a show...except instead of one cast and one stage, I have nine stages and about 80 acts. Binders for DAYS, and lots of Excel sheets and post it notes. I don't have a magic technique, I just sort of do the thing I've always done but on a much larger scale!!

NoUndueFussing115 karma

Any advice for first time attendees?

CatieO271 karma

Drink water. Wear suncreen. Wear practical shoes. Don't dress up like a direwolf if it's 100 degrees. Come with an open mind and do a little of everything. See some shows, ride some rides, shop a little. Renaissance Faires are magical because of the people, so try and meet some new friends or at least bump into some street cast. You're guaranteed a story.

chevymonza112 karma

Why the Renaissance? Aren't there other time periods that might be conducive to "faires"?

Fun AMA! I hear about these all the time but never attended.

CatieO175 karma

There are actually quite a few different types of Faires! There are pirate fairs, fairy fairs, steampunk fairs, it really just depends on what you're into! Renaissance Faires are probably the most popular, but thanks to the magic of the internet bringing like-minded people together, there are all sorts of different ones that have started popping up all over the place.

I don't know if that answers your question, but there you go!

Southernms102 karma

Does this job keep you busy all year?

CatieO210 karma

Yes! I'm lucky enough that my job is year-round, so in the "off season", I get to organize events and run our Education outreach program, which is a huge passion of mine. I went to school for Shakespeare, so I love that I get to teach kids about Shakespeare as part of THIS job, which is something I never expected. I also am working on building new costumes. At some point I'm going to clean my office, but today is not that day.

Southernms38 karma

How fun! That sounds really cool! I’ve always wanted to check out one!

CatieO42 karma

If you're ever in Georgia, hit me up!

MonkeyPunch98 karma

  1. Is it open year round? We are visiting Atlanta in October and wanted to check it out if it's open that time of year.
  2. What's the secret to winning that damned rope ladder game? I always fall off!
  3. Do the actors you use for the show ever get too into character and cause any issues?
  4. Do I get a discount if I dress up to come to the faire?

CatieO196 karma

  1. Unfortunately, we are not open year-round. We are open April through June, which is based on both weather and when other Faires around the country are taking place. Most of our vendors and performers travel around from faire to faire, so there is a specifically scheduled circuit that they go on.

  2. The guys who run the rope ladder are actually pretty good friends of mine, they insist that it's just balance, but I have my doubts.

  3. Not really. I am really lucky in that the street cast that I have is a really great group of people. There is one guy who is about the nicest person that you can imagine, but if you run into him in character, he will refuse to break. It's hilarious, because as his boss, sometimes I just need to ask him a question about his parking pass or whatever, but he'll answer as if he actually is Leonardo DaVinci.

  4. We don't offer discounts for coming in costume, but lots and lots of people do! I really think that It's the best way to enjoy a Renaissance Faire, because a lot of people treat you differently. You'll get stopped for photos and asked questions about the Renaissance, so it's kind of a cool way to feel involved, even if you don't officially work there. Also, if you come in a really spectacular or outstanding costume, sometimes there are fun perks that we will surprise people with, like getting to sit up with a king and queen during the Joust, or offering them free tickets to come back with their friends. It just kind of depends on the day.

thekillercook78 karma

Do you off live fire cooking at the event and a hearth area? Fried food is good and all but.....

CatieO144 karma

Many of our vendors and entertainment acts live in tents or trailers and camp during the season, and they cook on site. I live like 10 minutes away, so mostly I pound granola bars and gatorade to get me through the day. I walk about 17 miles a day working the festival and I don't really get that hungry because it's so hot, so I wait until I get home to eat.

EdgeOfDreaming70 karma

How did you guys do this year? Are you glad you quit your old gig?

By the way I vended my original jewelry for this first time this year and had a great first year! Your show is gorgeous, I had a killer location, and everyone I dealt with on staff was super helpful.

I'm pretty sure we met as I was checking in at the office after I cleared out and you and your friend were insisting I only talk to your puppets. It was cute. See you next year!

CatieO82 karma

I would like to formally apologize for the puppet thing. It was a weird day in the office.

It was a great year! I'm SO happy with this job. I do miss my old friends and the experiences I had there, but this job has been an incredible opportunity and I'm super excited about it.

AgentNeoSpy54 karma

Just went in March for the first time and I loved it, but I’m wondering how difficult it is to organize all these vendors from so many different places?

CatieO96 karma

It's insane. The faire goes from about five people working here to almost a thousand, over about three days. Lots of paperwork and organization. It's sort of like planning a wedding but one that lasts 8 weeks. Thankfully our vendor coordinator is amazing at her job and knows how to make everything run smoothly.

KablooieKablam54 karma

Do you think it would be possible to run a festival that was both sustainable (profitable) and strictly historically accurate? I'm imagining an experience that would be more like exploring a time portal than a day at a carnival. Mostly about education and immersion.

CatieO85 karma

When you figure it out, let me know and I will be the first person to buy my ticket.

The SCA tries to do this and can be a pretty good approximation at some events, but aside from hardcore LARPs, I'm not familiar with anything that goes fully immersive.

The best example of total immersion I can think of is Sleep No More in New York, but that's a show and it lasts 3 hours.

It could be incredible if it worked, but I think "if" is a key.

coryrenton53 karma

What's the best and worst food you've seen served at a ren faire?

CatieO157 karma

Our food manager invented Chicken Fried Rice on a stick this year, that's probably my favorite thing at the Festival, particularly because we're the only place that has it. We also have Dole Whip, which is apparently a rarity outside of Disney parks.

Personally, I don't like turkey legs, which a lot of people find funny since I work here. Part of it is because we had to taste-test all of the different brands this year, and there is nothing less appetizing than having a giant turkey leg at 9am nineteen days in a row.

coryrenton48 karma

how does the rice stay on a stick? which turkey legs failed the taste test?

CatieO83 karma

Picture like tater tots, but the tater tots are made of Chicken Fried Rice.

I can't actually speak to which turkey legs failed the test, but you'd be surprised at how many different factors went into our decision. Weight, size, visual appeal, smell, ease of transport...it was honestly a really complicated process to decide.

coryrenton34 karma

What's a rookie ren faire mistake you would advise other ren faires to avoid with regards to turkey legs, food, etc...?

CatieO107 karma

STAY. HYDRATED. Beer at 10AM sounds like a really good idea (because it is), but if it's 90 degrees outside, you're not going to make it to noon if you don't drink some water. Like 90% of the people we have to take to First Aid are slightly drunk, haven't eaten and are passing out from heat stroke because they didn't take care of themselves.

Clash_Tofar50 karma

Man.. this is the best AMA I’ve seen in a long time. I have purchased so many items for my outfit from some of the leather workers, clothiers, and metal workers but I’ve always wondered if it was really the best place to make those kinds of investments? (They’re not cheap)

Side note, I would still support them probably even if it was cheaper elsewhere but curious your thoughts on quality etc. thanks!

CatieO45 karma

Thank you!
I can't speak to all faires, of course, but at GARF, I think the quality of what we sell is really great. I also have the pleasure of getting to know a lot of the vendors personally, and it's really cool watching them work and build stuff through the season. I also always recommend Etsy-- lots of rennies have side-hustles on Etsy and sometimes you can find really unique stuff on there-- one of the big costs of anything you buy at a Faire is transporting it from place to place, so some selections can be limited. However, in terms of WHERE to buy? The ren faire is always going to be the best best. People know their stuff and they LOVE talking about what they make.

whereismytinfoilhat49 karma

What’s the craziest story you have from your experience, even by Renaissance Festival standards?

Edit: specificity

CatieO146 karma

So we have themed weekends at the Festival. We also had a ton of rain. Both of these things are important to the story. Keep them in mind.

So one weekend was an "Celtic" themed weekend, so we hired a local dance troupe to come and demonstrate traditional dances. I put them on one of our big main stages, which is made of wood. So you've got like 30 people jumping up and down on this stage that had been rained on for pretty much three straight weeks at this point. So it turns out that one of the boards had rotted, and the combination of people dancing on it plus the wet weather made it give way.

I get a call on my radio that there's a "situation" happening down at that stage. I head over, and I walk out to twenty men in kilts dancing on half of the stage while a bunch of women are gathered around this other lady whose leg is just stuck all the way down in the stage. Meanwhile, three site crew guys are going at the stage with a saws-all and screw guns trying to get the board up and four police officers are just standing around laughing their ass off watching this all happen. This is also, I should add, happening in front of an audience of like 150 people.

It all turned out okay, we got the lady out of the stage (she was fine, just startled), we got the board replaced and the show went on as usual, but man, that was a weird day.

ThisistheHoneyBadger47 karma

How many turkey legs are sold each day on average?

CatieO96 karma

I don't know the daily average, but I know last year we sold around 14 TONS of them!!!

ThisistheHoneyBadger31 karma

What about hollowed out bread loaves with soup?

CatieO53 karma

Unfortunately, we reserve those only for the most lowly of peasants and would never deign to serve our honored guests such paltry fare.

WillLie4karma43 karma

I go to the GA ren fest every few years. Every time I go they really seem to step up the joust, but not much else seems to change. Have you got anything new planned for the next year or so?

CatieO47 karma

Lots and lots of stuff! One thing that I am really excited about is that we are upping our education game, and starting an outreach program. I'm heading it up, so I'm a little biased, but I'm really excited for the opportunity to reach out more to the Greater Atlanta area and the community around here. Arts education is a passion of mine, so I feel really fortunate that I will get to bring Theatre and arts into the schools.

We also bring a new acts from year to year so there will be a few new faces at the festival. There will also be a lot of the old favorites, and I think that's all I can say right now!

Ursus-SCA41 karma

Is that real fire?

CatieO46 karma


a520811435 karma

How angry do you get when you see ninja turtles or ghostbusters walking around your renaissance fair?

CatieO155 karma

Honestly? It doesn't bother me too much. I'm an avid cosplayer, and one thing I've found with the RennFaire is that it's a very accepting community (and very costume/craft oriented), which means that some people just want a place to showcase their work in a community that understands and appreciates what they're doing. Plus, arguably, Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo are all period appropriate so it really just adds to the ambiance.

HistoricalNazi35 karma

Do you think your knowledge of the Renaissance era would better prepare you for a post-apocalyptic world in which there is no power and modern technology does not work?

CatieO107 karma

I'm a blacksmith, I sew, I fight broadsword and I know a bunch of people who are vikings and pirates for their day job, I'm like PRIMO survival team pick.

Veritech-132 karma

I went to the renaissance festival here in Georgia for my birthday and it was the best birthday I've had in years. Don't have a question for ya but I wanted to let you know how awesome it was.

I have to ask a question for the filter, so: Do you ever schedule it so that the black knight wins the joust to the death? I watched it from the VIP section because it was my birthday and I got to sit with the blue knights mom. It was epic. Thanks again for doing something cool and entertaining for us plebs. :)

CatieO44 karma

They actually trade off who is going to win and how it happens. On special days, sometimes they do something funny, like on Star Wars day this year the bad guy force-choked a bunch of the squires to death. On the very last day they put together a whole new ending where King Henry VIII rolled in and fought the bad guy (while the Immigrant Song played in the background). It's really fun because even I don't always know what they're going to do, and they have a great relationship with our actors, so they improv a lot of the lines and have fun with it.

tastepdad26 karma

You have to manage a lot of very peculiar people who are your talent, and I feel like the atmosphere behind the scenes really dictates the atmosphere in the Festival.

Are there a lot of conflicts with acts behind the scene?

BTW, your bagpipe band this year was awesome!!!

CatieO35 karma

Not really. There is a little drama at every workplace, but what has really been amazing about this job is how incredible the people are. It's really like a giant family. People go out of their way to lift up and support and help when they can, and that's a really cool thing. Even just small things like offering water to each other on a really hot day or having a stash of emergency fruit. It's small gestures that show people really care and are good hearted and kind.

PlentyToLearn24 karma

Is this you?

CatieO17 karma

Yes. Surprise!

unaskedforopinion22 karma

Does the festival own land or do you have to lease land from an area? How much of a challenge is it to find a "home" for the festival to be held on? I know in So-Cal, we've devolved over decades to a recreational area, subject to rescheduling by the Army Core of Engineers, and it's better than nothing, but basically it's a flat area of dirt in the middle of a city.

CatieO28 karma

We are lucky enough to own the land, (well, I don't own it, but the guy who pays me does) so it's not much of an issue for us, but I've heard that from a lot of people wanting to start their own faires. It can really be a challenge.

fallenreaper22 karma

As someone who takes dressing up as a fun there to do here and there, what is your opinion of those who dress up as Shrek and Donkey? I like to do it, and its fun as long as it is themed correctly. Sometimes, but not too often Ill dress as a trekkie, or even.... some peasantly individual.

CatieO29 karma

My official opinion is live your best life. If you're enjoying yourself and having fun, then go for it. We had a lot of Fionas and a few Shreks this year, but people dress as all kinds of things. Have fun, do you!

M0n5tr022 karma

What happens to the fair grounds in the off season?

CatieO49 karma

ITS MY FAVORITE THING!!! We spend a lot of time painting and re-building and fixing up for next season, but also it turns into, well, an empty renaissance festival. It's really cool, and eating my lunch completely alone in this like beautiful magical village is one of the highlights of my every day. We add a lot of stuff in the off season every year, so there is usually a fair bit of construction, but it's fun.

DiopticTurtle22 karma

Where did you work as a SM? Were you Equity? How did you go from stage management to being a manager at a Renaissance festival? How does the pay compare? I just left stage management myself; the money as a non-Eq just wasn't enough to keep me afloat.

CatieO61 karma

I was working at the American Shakespeare Center in Staunton, VA.

I actually got this job *kind of* by accident-- I wrote to the festival asking about any openings on street cast, because I was hoping to move to Atlanta and wanted to meet some like-minded nerds. I attached my theatrical resume and my professional resume, and they emailed me back saying that there was an opening for an Entertainment Director, and since I had comparable experience, might I be interested in that position? I SUPER WAS, so I interviewed, got the job and moved down with about a 2-day head start to the opening of the season. It's been an insanely crazy year, but oh man is it the best decision I ever made.

My salary is comparable, but as a non-eq ASM, I was incredibly lucky to get a long contract at the ASC and I know it.

Bawbnweeve21 karma

I own an ATM business. How do i approach getting my machines into the festival? Do the festival owners have their own machines or is it a bidding war type thing?

Edit: i live in Colorado so im not sure how or if the business differs from state to state but it would be cool to get any insight. Thank you.

CatieO25 karma

You are welcome to reach out to the Festival directly for an answer to that one, that's above my paygrade.

RootbeerFlotilla20 karma

Why are there so many leather-clad Harley riders at these festivals? Hardcore bikers vs costumed nerds, doesn't seem like a good fit to me.

CatieO77 karma

The beer is cheap and the people are nice. That's about the only answer I have for you. Well, that and a lot of Faires have leatherworking booths that have incredible boots and other wearables, it's possible they're just loyal to a particular vendor or something.

adamdoesmusic17 karma

How does someone who makes costumes or other wares break into the Ren Faire scene as a merchant?

CatieO25 karma

Honestly, just call up your local faire (or the faire closest to you) and ask. Some places have a deal where you can just set up a tent and sort of test the waters for a few years, other places have you rent a booth right away. It really depends, but it might not be as expensive as you think, particularly if you spend some time building up stock.

iFuckingLoveBoston14 karma

What... is the average air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

CatieO26 karma

About 31 to 40 miles per hour.

hereticjones14 karma

I live near Larkspur, CO, and there's a great Renaissance Festival there. I've been going for years and it's great.

Anyway, my question is, I always feel like the after parties must be freaking awesome. Are the after parties off the charts awesome? Any awesome tales you can regale us with?

CatieO23 karma

We have a really fun party during the middle of the season that serves as a fundraiser for RESCU, which is an organization that raises money for Ren Faire workers who might run into medical emergencies. They go all out with the planning, and it was pretty off the charts.

Most of us all go to the same restaurant after the festival day is over, and there is usually some really fun stuff happening out on the back patio, people twirling fire and doing drum circles and stuff like that. It's always very organic, which is what I love about it-- it's amazing what happens when you jam 500 exceptionally creative people into the same space.

TKDbeast13 karma

Why should I go to my local Renaissance festival?

CatieO35 karma

I have told a lot of people that going to the Renaissance Festival is about what you want to get out of it-- shopping, entertainment, being around like-minded folks, whatever, but for me, the most important thing is that it really is a "local" thing. It's a great way to support the Arts and entertainment in your community, as well as supporting independent vendors who (usually) hand make everything they're selling. It's a very localized process in many ways, and spending your money at the faire ensures that entertainment and opportunities for artists and artisans continue to thrive in your area. Also there's a fuckton of beer. So.

fuzake526213 karma

Do you get the chance to hit other faires at all? Speaking as an entertainer at KHRF, we would love to have you down next year for a weekend. :)

CatieO14 karma

Hey Faire Friend! I'm planning a trip to see a few faires but I haven't set my schedule yet. Slide into my DMs and give me the details!

EatGulp12 karma

What is the biggest no no that you always see people do at your festivals?

CatieO25 karma

Not wear sunscreen. Seriously. Take 30 seconds, put it on. It's not hard and it will make your day SO much better. Second to that is not drinking enough water. Third to that is waiting to buy that Cool Thing, then being disappointed when the Cool Thing isn't there at the end of the day. Buy the Cool Thing, because five thousand other people are going to walk by and also think that Cool Thing is Cool, and you will be sad by the end of the day.

nailsforbrunch11 karma

I missed my REN Fair here in Pensacola last year and I was so bummed! What made you start getting interested in the scene? Btw, this is one of the best AMAs I’ve ever read through! Thank you!

CatieO14 karma

Thank you! That means a lot!

So I was always the kid who never knew what I wanted to do when I was growing up, so I sort of jumped from thing to thing. Music, acting, directing, costuming, designing, blacksmithing... at some point, I took stock of my skills and realized that I had, over the course of my humble 25 years, basically become a walking renn faire, so I started working at one as a demo artisan doing blacksmithing, and then, later, wound up here.

My story is weird, but people find their way into the Renn faire life through all sorts of reasons, but it's a wonderful community and I really like it here.

Angelbabysdaddy9 karma

I haven't been to the faire in a few years, but I would like to attend next year. I don't remember seeing motorcycle parking in the past. Is there parking designated specifically for motorcycles?

CatieO10 karma

I recommend giving the office a call, I'm sure someone could answer that for you!

VAShumpmaker9 karma

So, how many pirate songs do you know beginning to end?

CatieO14 karma

I started this year with a solid two? Maybe three? That number is probably easily past 30 at this point. Yo ho ho.

teemo935 karma

Is it true that bdsm circles are often present at renfaires? Do you see people wearing kinky items during the day?

CatieO19 karma

I think it depends on what you mean by kinky items. We don't have people walking around in full gimp suits, but you do see the occasional person with a collar or something like that. People tend to be open minded, and my policy is as long as they aren't bothering anyone, being vulgar or scening in public I don't care if you want to nod to your kinky-ness.

Lots of the Pirates have whips and handcuffs on their belts, but nothing so shocking that it would be indecent. We have a fair number of furries that show up. One of my favorite games to play is "how long will they keep the head on in this heat?"

There seems to be a weird misconception that Renaissance Fairs double as this crazy BDSM orgy, but anymore, there are specific conventions and events for kinksters to attend, so it's not the crazy dungeon show some people might think.

teemo934 karma

Thanks you for responding so fast. Yeah, I haven't been at one, just that I heard stories about bdsm camps where people have fun at night, but maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration/myth.

Also, do people actually pay to be locked in a pillory?

CatieO6 karma

I believe that some faires have a paid photo op at the pillory, but our Stocksman, Pasty, is happy to pillory you for free :D.

de_argh5 karma

What's the night life like? I've always assumed that after everyone leaves it turns into a giant drunken polyamorous love fest.

CatieO24 karma

It's a lot like that, except that everyone goes to sleep because we're tired from working in 90 degree heat for 8 hours. There are also drum circles. So many drum circles.

It's also entirely possible that I am just not cool enough to get invited to the orgies.

saltypeanuts74 karma

can a guy enter from a low position and climb to a high one?

Like walking around selling food to calling everyone a peasant because you are the king.

I’m asking because I wanted to try working at one sometime

CatieO9 karma

I think it would depend on the Faire that you're working. Most places (at least in my experience) don't cross-cast vendors and cast, but I suppose anything is possible. At GARF, our street cast builds their own characters (sort of like a giant game of DnD) and they play those characters for the season. Some people have started out as peasants and "jumped" to nobility, but it was less about like some sort of points system and more "hey I'd like to try a new character this year, is that cool?"

StupidDogCoffee4 karma

So, I'm putting together a little children's storytelling show that would be perfect at Ren Faires.

I dress up as Yote, the Elf from El Paso, and tell stories 'bout all the monsters and scoundrels I've tricked and outthunk over the years.

How should I go about performing at faires if I want to give it a go? Would anyone mind if I just showed up with a trunk and a stool and found a quiet little corner to set up in one day when I find the courage?

CatieO3 karma

Short answer: Yes, they would mind. It is never advisable to show up to a faire and start performing. It's considered bad form at best and at worst, it's illegal and they'll have you thrown out.
What you should do is reach out to the entertainment person at the festival you want to attend and tell them exactly what you told me. In my experience, if you're honest about wanting to just practice your act and get some feedback, as long as you don't want like a thousand dollars a day, most faires would be happy to have you come in.

I'd also recommend you build a cohesive marketing packet that spells out who you are, what you do, includes some pictures and defines what makes you special. If you can figure that much out, you're well on your way!

albatrossonkeyboard3 karma

How do you feel about the shift from historically focused content to fantasy, and do you think it should still be called a Renaissance fair?

CatieO12 karma

Eh. I think it varies from faire to faire. Some Faires, like Bristol, have an incredible costume department and work very hard for an air of athenticity. Other Faires focus their energy elsewhere, and that's okay too. There is never going to be a faire with 100% historical accuracy or it would be really dirty and everyone would leave with the plague. I think "Renaissance Faire" conveys a certain image that absolutely included elements of fantasy like fairies and nymphs and other creatures...and, to some extent, the Renaissance was about introducing new theories and new ideas into the culture, so if a few more stormtroopers start showing up, it doesn't particularly bother me.

MorphineBear3 karma

What do you look like as a fairy?

CatieO7 karma

About the same, except with wings. I'm not at home right now but I'll see if I can't post a photo in a bit.

CatieO3 karma

OP will surely deliver

Here I am as [Note the Fairy](https://i.imgur.com/sk05xhM.jpg)!

King_of_Le_Interwebs2 karma

I recently moved to Fairburn GA and have always wanted to participate in a festival. Knowing the GRF isn't running again until next year, what would I need to do to be able to get involved??

CatieO3 karma

Oh hi neighbor! Drop me a message or an email and I'll give you some details!

discriminants2 karma

How did you get your job (especially since it was so far away, I'm assuming you had no previous connections with the festival)? What kind of prior experience did you have?

CatieO3 karma

I copy/pasted this from an answer below, but to specifically answer you, I didn't have any connections with the festival before I started here.

I actually got this job *kind of* by accident-- I wrote to the festival asking about any openings on street cast, because I was hoping to move to Atlanta and wanted to meet some like-minded nerds. I attached my theatrical resume and my professional resume, and they emailed me back saying that there was an opening for an Entertainment Director, and since I had comparable experience, might I be interested in that position? I SUPER WAS, so I interviewed, got the job and moved down with about a 2-day head start to the opening of the season. It's been an insanely crazy year, but oh man is it the best decision I ever made.

PopePraxis2 karma

What's your favorite faire outside of Georgia?

CatieO4 karma

That is a really tough question to answer. They all have different appeals and things that make them awesome. I have had a fangirl crush on the costume department at Bristol for YEARS, so they're definitely up there!

sDotAgain-2 karma

Do you like all of the tits?

Edit: Probably should have looked at the pic before phrasing my question that way. Didn’t know OP was female. My apologies to anyone who doesn’t like breasts and is offended by my question.

CatieO14 karma

That's actually an interesting question. Let's unpack that.

First, since we don't have magical diembodied boobs floating around, I'm guessing you're asking if I enjoy seeing women walking around in what could be considered revealing clothing.

Second, it's important to break down the history of Renn Faire a bit and say that many of them originated as kink festivals where BDSM-friendly vendors could gather and like-minded folks could have a safe space to spend time together.

Third, it's important to note that historically, breasts were considered a feature to highlight, particularly in the latter part of the 1500s when corsets (called "stays") would push the breasts up and narrow the waist to create the idea conical shape.

Fourth, since this is 2018, let's just go ahead and point out that this is a terribly sexist question and women are more than just the sum of their parts, even if those parts are out a bit more.

So yes, to answer your question, I'm happy to work at a place where women can feel free to dress as they please in both the spirit of the time period and the spirit of self exoression, because that means we have built a safe space that builds on the origins of the first Faires and even has a sprinkling of historical accuracy.

Good day, sir.

MagnusBruce-6 karma

How do you deal with farbs at your events?

CatieO4 karma

Everyone is welcome to come and have fun regardless of what they're wearing. It's a Renaissance faire, not Colonial Williamsburg, so people who get all uppity about garb tend to be the ones who look miserable all day. I got out of the SCA because of the negativity inherent in a lot of people, so coming to the faire had been a refreshing change of pace from the Garb police.

MagnusBruce-12 karma

So in other words... you're presenting events in an historical setting, but don't care about history or educating people? At least SCA admit they're not historically accurate in the name of their society and they know they're not reenactors, but the term "Renaissance faire" implies you are at least trying to be a reenactment event rather than cosplayers.

CatieO3 karma

We do a lot of education outreach in the schools and work hard to talk about how the actual Renaissance would have been in those circumstances...but we also sell Coors Light and funnel cake at the Faire and there's a carousel. There is a difference between a reenactment event striving for absolute accuracy and a Renaissance faire, so the two aren't really that connected in terms of type of entertainment or how people treat them.