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Gennivie and her beau are 2 of the 4 new owners of this booth at Casa De Fruta

The Gilded Serpent presents...
he Tale of Two Faires
Northern California Renaissance Faire at Casa De Fruta
produced by the Renaissance Entertainment Corp.
by Gennevie/Q
Photos by
Eric Herbranson

It happened again! The Faire has moved, this time to a beautiful location just outside Gilroy and Hollister. For those of you that have a history with the Faire you will remember the five Farewell to Faire years we had in Novato at the Black Point Forest and the three hot and dusty years we endured at the Nut Tree in Vacaville. Well, this year we moved once again to settle beneath a beautiful canopy of trees just down the road from Casa de Fruta. Casa de Fruta is a lively and elaborate fruit stand by the side of the road on Highway 152. Most people know it from driving to or from Highway 5. To call it just a fruit stand is a bit unfair. The family who has owned it for almost 100 years has grown the land into a restaurant, deli, wine shop, candy store, petting zoo, motel, RV park, small faire grounds and a fruit stand with a great gift shop.

Plenty of shade and fair goers at Casa de Fruta!

The fair grounds were rented by the Renaissance Entertainment Corporation to host this year's Northern California Ren Faire. For most of the booth owners the location came as a bit of a shock. We had been expecting to start building a new permanent home in the American Canyon in Vallejo. That land was lost to us when eagles were found nesting near by. Casa de Fruta seemed far away and not so very northern. However, once I set foot on the grounds, I was impressed! The trees were old and big, giving lots of shade. The staff at Casa de Fruta was warm and interested in our little tribe. The weather was hot but not boiling and when you were down in the site you couldn’t see the highway. From every vantage point were rolling hills and gnarled old oaks; it was a bit reminiscent of Black Point. The only exception to shade is the food court and jousting arena. The food court is in a small field surrounded by trees and the arena just down the road in an open area. Not to worry though, there are several very large canopies drawn high above so you’re almost never in the direct sun. The question on everyone’s mind was, “Would people come?” It can take time to build a strong consistent crowd and here we were, starting over again.

Much to my and many others' delight, we built it and they came, and in strong enough numbers to make it fun and profitable. There were lots of new faces, people from San Jose, Santa Cruz, Carmel, Monterey and Watsonville, and lots of familiar faces. I had many customers exclaim how happy they were to be back at faire. Many had not come to Vacaville once they heard about the heat and wind. We had many Monterey Bay residents who did faire “way back when” and had sworn they had outgrown it. But once it moved close to their home towns they couldn’t stay away. Overall, it was a great first year in our new home. Rumor has it that we may be there for years to come. The Zanger family, who owns Casa de Fruta was reportedly very pleased with the results and by most accounts the people that build and work faire are adjusting to the new commute and happy with the location.

ed-Gennivie writes more after my nagging for more personal experience-

I had been participating in the faire for approximately 6 years when my partners and I had the opportunity to buy the booth we worked at. The partners are Kristen and Shawn Boland, Jordy Terrill and myself, Q. Suddenly we were the new, proud owners of "Jack and the Bean Steak", home of the famous Ducket! For those of you that frequent the faire and don't care for meat we are a must see booth. What's a Bucket of Duckets you ask? Well, it's a deliciously marinated soy meat that is lightly fried in peanut oil then drizzled in a one of a kind teriyaki sauce, sprinkled with sesame seeds and served over a bed of fluffy rice. The larger Ducket Platter comes with our light and refreshing garden slaw, a mixture of carrots, cabbage and daikon radish in a lemon, honey, ginger dressing. Although our food is mostly vegan we cater to vegetarians and meat lovers alike. We are karma free cuisine for the failed hunter! One bite and you will be a believer.

I admit I was a bit nervous about taking on the role of a booth owner. My life at faire was about to change from that of a care free participant who came to play amongst the crowds of faire goers during the day and partake in the infamous night life to that of a possibly stressed out business owner poring over the books and double-checking inventory. And, in fact, much of that is true. However, the people that run faire made the first year as easy as possible on us in many ways. We got loads of support from the faire, other booth owners, friends, family and especially our incredible neighbors at Steak on a Stake and Onion Blossom. Marta and Jim Selway own those booths and without them none of this could have happened. We will be eternally grateful! I was surprised and pleased to see how much support we got from other booth owners and have to say it was a very warm welcome. As for that care free lifestyle, well, life is a bit busier now, to say the least, but we did manage to get out of the booth by about 9 pm every night and grab a great dinner at Jazlas or Boar's Head (the two booths that graciously stay open at night to serve the participants dinner). We usually worked our way over to at least one party before the exhaustion set in and forced us to bed. I hear the night life is still raucuos and am hoping to get out next year and enjoy a little more of it myself.

If you missed this year's faire, take a peek at the pictures, it really is beautiful. If you made it out to see it for yourself, thanks! We all look forward to seeing you next year. Hazar!

Blessing or curse?
Bonnie Barnum, harpist
Lars Tergis on violin, Darioush Sami on santur, Robby Parker on oud, Thais Diehl, dancing

The Tale of Two Faires continues:

List of other "Ren Faires" around the world

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