By Sarah Richardson
On Tuesday, Feb. 13, the WVU Building at the State Fairgrounds was packed with people, some in full medieval garb.
The reason? An informational meeting, hosted by Taso Stavrakis and his partner Dawn Kieninger, about the upcoming West Virginia Renaissance Festival, scheduled to happen this June. The pair have been traveling around the country for 30 years attending and working at different Renaissance festivals, and have decided to open and operate one right here in Greenbrier County.
The fair will be located north of Lewisburg, on Route 60, close to Alta, and is scheduled to begin the weekend of June 9. The fair will be open Saturdays and Sundays through July 1.
Stavrakis and Kieninger own the 300+ acre farm near Alta, and live on the festival site. Visible from the road, locals have been curious for months of the unique building style and layout of the structures going up, but it’s now become apparent that the location is perfect for a Ren Fair. Ultimately, there will be room for jousting, live demonstrations, rides, games, food stands, musical performances, artisan booths, and more. There will be blacksmithing demos, fabric weavers, glassblowers, woodworkers, potters, etc., for attendees to observe and purchase goods from.
The event location will also be available for things like weddings and birthday parties. Themed weekends are being planned, as well as a possible Halloween party. Christmas activities, such as carriage rides, are under discussion, as well.
Stavrakis, who is a stunt performer, actor, and jouster, estimates that around 20,000 people will come from far and wide to attend the festival, with an estimated 2,000 to 5,000 coming each day. They plan to advertise in surrounding areas such as Roanoke to draw people in to the festival. Some locals expressed concerns about traffic and parking, but due to the close proximity to the Alta exit on I-64, most through traffic is anticipated to bypass downtown Lewisburg. As far as parking goes, “Well, we have about 40 acres,” Stavrakis said. “And we don’t want to be disturbing anyone with the traffic.”
Stavrakis emphasized that local vendors are more than welcome to come and sell their wares, although they must be in costume to do so. Even if it’s not necessarily a Renaissance-era craft, they are willing to accommodate those interested. Artisans must be juried in to participate in the festival, with the deadline being May 1. Call 715-671-3629 for more information. Cast auditions will be announced at a future date, for those wanting to work at the fair. To check for future updates, follow “WV Renaissance Festival” on Facebook.