Rousing Good Time at Renaissance Pleasure Faire 2023


The Renaissance Pleasure Faire has pulled into town again, as it does every April, in the Santa Fe Dam Recreation Area of Irwindale. The turkey legs, ale and jousting are the heralds of spring for SoCal and, with the relatively cool temperatures we’re having right now, it’s an even more pleasant experience than usual.

For some guests, it’s all about the shows – like Willy Nilly’s one-man Shakespeare productions or the feats of acrobatic skill from Aaron Bonk, the fire-whip master. For some, it’s the many booths selling “fyne wares of olde” from corsets and codpieces to swords, replica guns and wizard staffs. Still others, like this reporter, are drawn to the Faire for the food and drink – sausage rolls, Welsh tea cakes, steak on a stake, turkey legs, barbecue beef ribs, chimney cakes stuffed with berries and cream, beer from around the country and even a selection of meads from B. Nektar Meadery. And, personally, that’s just my menu for a day.

This year, I found a new favorite adventure from The Apple Tree: I took on The Kraken – a monster of a dessert meant for one brave soul with an appetite as big as the sea – featuring two large apples, sliced and drizzled with caramel, hot fudge, chopped nuts, toffee, granola, whipped cream, marshmallows, graham crackers, Oreos, pretzels and potato chips, garnished with an entire Twinkie. It was a struggle to be sure, but I was able to defeat the beast, dining to a symphony of adulation from everyone but my embarrassed wife.

Whether it’s the costumes or the shopping or the way-too-much-food, there’s something for everyone at the Faire. One thing of note is that although many of the restrictions and limitations from the Great Plague of 2020 have fallen away the bars remain reduced from what they were before. Previously, bawdy bar maids would pour ale from a tap and then refill the flagon with port as it was drained by the patron atop the bar. It was the highlight of any visit to the Faire. But ever since the plague, the draught beers haven’t returned and the activity that went along with them is similarly decreased. And the selection of beverages remains slim as well. All in cans, the options are usually Modelos, Buds, Kona and the like, with an occasional IPA or stout. And for the elevated price of each can ($16) these left me wanting.

But despite the lack of beverages, the Renaissance Pleasure Faire is a fantastic time and something many across SoCal look forward to every year. Dig out that old cloak and put your elf ears on – it’s time to hit the Faire.

Open weekends now through May 21. Visit for more information.