GVSU students plan 22nd annual Renaissance Festival

By Theresa Mueller | 9/20/17 10:22pm

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GVL/Mackenzie Bush - Actors hold a skit at the Carillon Tower to show what life was like in the 1500s at the Renaissanec Festival on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016.

The lawns of Grand Valley State University will be transformed this weekend for the celebration of the 22nd annual Renaissance Festival.

The festival will be held at the Cook Carillon Tower and take place over a two-day period. Festivities will begin Saturday, Sept. 23, at 10 a.m. and last until 7 p.m. The festival will pick up again at 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 24, and conclude at 5 p.m. 

The festival is coordinated by GVSU’s Renaissance Festival Club (or GVRen), the oldest student organization at GVSU. With approximately 20 members, GVRen takes it upon itself every year to plan the only student-run fair in the state of Michigan.

GVRen members have been planning for the 2017 fall festival since the middle of the 2017 winter semester.

“There are a lot of contacts to be made,” said Vashti Gregory, president and administrator for GVRen and entertainment director of the festival. “It’s important to keep good contacts with (merchants and vendors) and ourselves.”

Every year, GVRen tries to align the Renaissance Festival with either GVSU’s Homecoming or Family Weekend to provide additional activities for students’ families and friends to partake in.

With Homecoming occurring late in the season this year, GVRen decided to hold the festival on the earlier dates of Family Weekend. Erin Klitzke, merchant director and club member, described the planning process as a tighter timeline but believes it is better than risking dicey weather in late October.

For Gregory, the planning is worthwhile.

“(GVRen) gets to create our own world for a couple days," Gregory said.

Klitzke said the festival is a people-oriented event.

“(The festival) is about the people, the strangers I don’t know and the people I’ve known for years,” Klitzke said.

The festival is open to the public with no cost of attendance. There will be various activities occurring throughout the day to keep attendees entertained. Festival-goers are encouraged, but not required, to dress up to the extent that they are comfortable. 

Throughout both days, there will be a variety of entertainment performances, including storytelling, juggling, music, full-contact sword fighting, comedic acts and more. 

GVRen members partake in many of the entertainment actives themselves, but there will also be many outside entertainment sources at the festival, including vendors, merchants and additional performance groups. 

Attendees will have the opportunity to purchase jewelry, books and Renaissance art from the 20 different merchants at the festival. 

“(The festival) is about going and being your own self and interacting with others while daring to be different,” Gregory said.

There will also be a raffle both Saturday and Sunday, with items donated by club members and merchants. The money will likely be donated toward GVRen’s winter event, the Duke’s Ball.

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