Miami-Dade County

Go back in time for fun at Renaissance Festival

By Chantale Glover

From the moment you walk through the Florida Renaissance gates Saturday until the time you leave, you will be immersed in a renaissance fantasy.

If you're ready to escape to the drama of the 16th century, then your time has arrived.

"People need an escape, '' said Bobby Rodriguez, executive producer. "As soon as you walk through the castle gates you are leaving the 21st century behind."

Organizers say the Renaissance festival, which opens Saturday and runs through April 8, is more than just an art show or a musical festival. It's an experience.

The goal is to immerse fans in the 16th century, giving the idea of village festivals where king, queens and noblemen linger. Roaming entertainers will make it near impossible to escape the fanciful festivities.

"We do anything and everything we can to make you feel like you are back in that time and we try to keep from breaking that façade we create, " Rodriguez said.

One of the characters is the self-indulgent and pompous mayor, Lord Percival DeGage, played by the festival's entertainment director, Richard Webber.

"I've played this character for 30 years, '' Webber said. "That's what makes this experience unique. It's not a play, it's not a movie. You actually get to interact with the actors."

Six stages host entertainment and tents have glass-blowing demonstrations and other handcrafts throughout the village.

"On the stages we have some incredibly funny acts, beautiful gypsy dancers, a couple magicians, and a music tent that will just rock the house, " Webber said.

There is also a stage of entertainment for children with acts such as Robin Hood.

Costumes can be purchased at the fair and the festival's performers actually encourage dressing up.

"For the first-time goers, it's not like anything you've experienced, " Webber said. "You get to experience things that you normally wouldn't, in a playful and safe environment."

Along with the games, there will be jugglers, jesters, a full armored horse-to-horse jousting event and much more.

Other acts include Celtic Mayhem, The Trouvaires and The Wolgemut, a colorful drum and pipe act.