PennFaire is a fully student-driven, one-day-only renaissance festival at the main Penn State campus. To the extent that it is fully student-driven, the festival is woefully small, but it is also exceedingly high-spirited. In a university campus that houses tens of thousands of smart, ambitious and maybe even nerdy individuals, the maxim of all these types tend to find themselves one way or another in the vicinity of PennFaire. The result is a day of legitimate revelry and intense character acting. And when it comes to a renaissance faire, is there really anything else we could ask for?
PennFaire pulls from the immense resources of Penn State to make the best possible event that is at their disposal. For starters, various clubs from the university take part as special guests. These include the likes of the Nittany Highland Pipping Band, the Irish Dancing club, and even the Monty Python club. The day has planned skits and role-playing, enthralling readings from period works, and fun activities like Human Chess, and a kids corner with medieval puppet shows. There is a shortage of vendors, especially food, but the surrounding downtown is ripe with eating options.
By all accounts, PennFaire should be a regional touchstone. But it seems to suffer from a lack of support from the larger Penn State and the far-reaching Renaissance Fair-going crowds. This is immensely frustrating to outside viewers as the gallant efforts of the student-run PennFaire committee are without bound. Indeed, PennFaire is impossibly close to being something truly special. While this festival is still new (only starting in 2011), it has much growing to do to reach its full potential. This is a mark only possible if the Penn State community binds to the PennFaire to help seriously with the advancement of this otherwise very spirited event.
Young people are traditionally known for being persistent, so look for PennFaire to make moves going into the future.
Admission is free and open to the public. Parking is in downtown on the streets and municipal lots.