Take in two days of medieval merriment and mayhem at the Home of Champions rodeo grounds when the annual Montana Renaissance Festival moves to Red Lodge June 4-5. Step back in time to 16th century England, visit with Queen Abbey and King Jayme, and see knights and warriors battling across the grounds.
Organizer Ken Haak (aka lowly shepherd Kenneth the Humble) launched the festival in 2012 at ZooMontana in Billings after performing as an ogre at Renaissance faires in Texas and New York.
The festival – rated one of the top five tourist attractions in Montana – outgrew the zoo about the time COVID struck. When an invitation arrived from the Red Lodge Chamber and Home of Champions Rodeo to relocate, organizers jumped on the opportunity. Despite losing the unique ambiance of the zoo (where Haak is employed), the festival gains “the luxury of one of the finest arenas in the state, with a seating capacity of 6,000, nearly triple the parking and a lot more camping space for our vendors and performers.”
Enjoy the Royal Joust, courtesy of the The Order of Epona, as well as fighting demonstrations and displays and equestrian feats of daring performed by members of the Society of Creative Anachronism (SCA). Relax at one of four stages as local bards, minstrels, dancers, wizards and jesters perform, and try delicacies from 10 food and drink vendors, including the always tasty turkey leg and a flagon of ale or a chalice of the King’s Mead.
More than 75 period artists and craftsmen sell their wares and demonstrate age-old crafts, including Seven Hammers Forge, Her Lady’s Handspinners, the Potters Guild, Yellowstone Sword Club, Art & Alchemy Glass Blowing and even a chain-maille maker.
Among the many performers at this year’s festival are AlternaCirque with amazing feats of aerial acrobats, the Montana Morris Dancers, Lord Albion, Frostylocks and Splinter, Earthshine and Adam “The Bard” Milligan. Belly dancers, unicorns, a fairy queen, ventriloquist, magicians, and performers from NOVA’s upcoming production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” add to the ambiance.
The little ones are bound to enjoy the children’s area with its bounce castle and bounce dragon, the Pixie Coronation featuring the Queen of Fairies, and the Knighting Ceremony, presided over by the King himself.
Grounds are open 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets, available online or at the gate, are $10-$15 per day; $15-$25 for a two-day pass; $45 for families and free for children 2 and under.
As Kevin the Humble says: “Prepare Thyself for Revelry!”