The Pens and Paper Dungeons and Dragons Role Playing Club hosted an entirely student-run Medieval Renaissance Fair on Nov. 18. The event featured a jousting arena, fairy garden, medieval role play and an artist alley with more than a dozen art vendors.
The weather was perfect for the event, which was hosted by the officers of the Pens and Paper Club, President Ariella Russin, Vice President Sunjay Hopkins, Treasurer Jay Snodgrass and Secretary Lance Gallagher, with the help of the NCF Fight Club to run the jousting arena.
The arena was the site of many battles throughout the day, with combatants squaring off with foam swords and the fight announcers reading off their names before each battle. Many students came dressed in period attire, and some did impromptu role playing. The artist alley might just have stolen the show, however, attracting lots of attention throughout the event.
The club secured funds for this Renaissance Fair with the help of the Student Allocation Committee (SAC), and Russin commented to the Catalyst about the importance of the SAC in the process:
“So we went three times to the SAC. We got like $800 something the first time, then like $100- something the second time and then $400-something the third time. We got a lot of funding [from them]. Thank you SAC so much, you guys, we would not have been able to do this without you.”
All of the officers worked together to create the right environment for the event, with Hopkins building the stage for the role-playing portion all by himself the morning of the fair. The club worked hard to bring in student artists and interested students, with Gallagher and Russin playing an important role in the club’s email correspondence, leading to a great turnout.
Snodgrass stressed the importance of involving student artists and including the artist alley as part of the Renaissance Fair. “I was rallying for an artist alley, half because I really like artist allies, because I love giving artists my money. I also think it’s a great opportunity for artists,” he said.
Snodgrass said he thought the event was successful in incorporating these student artists, with the club also reaching out to Ringling students to be vendors for the day. “We also had three artists from Ringling [and are thankful for them]. We sent out the fliers to them. Ringling was super sweet. We wanted it to be a bit of a community event. I’d like more Ringling artists to come next time we do this.”
The artist alley was a low-pressure environment for student artists to showcase their work, interact with buyers and practice small-scale marketing of their own art. Russin commented on this point as well. “You can learn what sells and what doesn’t sell, what audiences like, without it being much of a loss.”
Isabelle Campesi, a third-year New College student art vendor, spoke about why she was interested in the student-run Renaissance Fair, and her experience as an art vendor at the event.
“I’ve always really enjoyed Renaissance fairs, but every time I see one, I never get the chance to go. But when I found out Pens and Papers was doing a Renaissance Fair at New College I knew, like, okay, I have to be a part of this, [especially] when I found out they were [having an] artist alley,” Campesi said. “Fairly recently I’ve begun selling… like really getting into it.
“It was great, so much fun! All of the vendors did great, are great, are amazing hosts and great, and everybody here is just so creative,” Campesi continued. “I just love the energy that this fair had.”
The club also had some ideas for possible improvements going forward, with Gallgher commenting on the importance of involving other clubs: “I definitely want to include archery. I think just having more club activity and having a collaborative event, because there are a lot of clubs on campus. Having an event where all the clubs can contribute in their own way would be awesome.”
Hopkins had an idea to make the roleplaying portion more accessible for all at the event. “With this particular run of the event, we planned on trying to have some volunteers play characters. [It] didn’t pan out [as planned],” he explained, adding that he wanted to involve students in improvisational roleplaying. “We still managed to get a story told. I know next time I want to try to lean harder into that sort of thing.”