Renn Con is a a themed weekend of the legendary Renaissance Pleasure Faire in Irwindale, CA on April 30 to May 1, 2022. I’ve only attended very few Renaissance faires (or casually known as “Renn Faire”) in my costuming life. The last time I attended this particular faire was in 2007! The Renaissance Pleasure Faire has held “time traveller weekends” where cosplayers dress up in anachronistic, fandom attire. This was founded during the height of pop culture and the comic con craze. Doctors, Marty McFly’s, Rick and Morty’s, Star Trek crew members, etc would gallivant around the faire grounds exploring this piece of time. This has since rebranded as “Renn Con.”
We were curious about Renn Con. Because both Jay and I are anime nerds, Jay went as Serpico from Berserk (Rest in Piece, Miura-sensei) and I went as Saber Lily from the Fate universe. We didn’t know what to expect since this was our first time back to the faire in a long time. We went on Sunday, the second day.
We left Orange County at 11AM and got to the Irwindale area around noon. However, the directions on the website had the GPS point to a CVS down the street. We finally figured out how to get to the Irwindale Dam Recreation Area from the CVS off Arrow Highway. About a mile and a half into the turn to enter the park, we were already in the car line to get in. We waited about 20 minutes to get in – thankfully we had VIP parking in advance to lessen the walk to the entrance.
This would have been a tough event to Uber or Lyft to since the line to get in was incredibly long. I even saw people climbing the rock slide damn to get into the park! If you are traveling by car to the faire, definitely make sure the GPS points to the recreation area and carpooling with friends is a must! (It was interesting to note that the car in front of us was barbarian vapers and the car behind us was a jeep full of elves).
We bought our tickets online and had no problem getting scanned in with our printed QR codes. It was a windy day, not as hot as the day before from what we heard. Renn Faire was exactly how I remembered – shops full of tea, bodices, flower crowns, and libations around!
I think the highlight of our faire day was watching live performances on stage. I really liked the stage that showcased Shakespeare sonnets and scenes. I also enjoyed Willy Nilly’s 5PM comedy show where he was allowed to be much more lewd with his jokes. Not only faire has stage performances, the whole thing is a show! Different guilds represented different aspects of the time period. We had Puritans calling out sinners. We had a royal court fanning off. We had crafters crafting. Faire was very kinetic.
Foodwise, my best advice is to bring cash on hand. The ATM’s will charge close to $5 per transaction. We’re so used to using card everywhere that we forgot to withdraw cash. We ended up getting calamari and chips plus shrimp and chips – it was the shortest line of all the food lines. It was too warm of a day for soup and we didn’t want to go for anything too pedestrian. We also had the strawberries with the bacon and chocolate – it was amazing! Also, for our “one for the road home” drink, we had the spiced ice and peach iced tea’s – we really appreciated the refreshments before heading home!
Renn Con’s event was a singular cosplay contest by the drinks food stall. I was hoping the contest would be on a main stage where I can see everyone and take photos. However, it was people closing in as numbers were being called. I really feel that people worked hard on their cosplays that they deserved to be on stage to be seen by all. When you have so many people crowding in to see costumes and people trying to line up for booze, it creates chaos. Hence, we don’t have much photos of the Sunday cosplay contest. This really needs to have a stage.
Cosplaywise, I was very happy to see kiddos cosplay from Demon Slayer and My Hero Academia. It’s apparent that cosplayers are going beyond (plus ultra) with the time traveller theme and just doing their thing. I would say Marvel was definitely the winner of the fandom that was most represented – Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch, Captain America, Winter Soldier and Spiderman can be seeing running around the faire. I did see a Venti cosplayer from Genshin; it made me wish I could wear Beidou for pirate’s weekend next year (or do a pub crawl should I have a designated driver).
Dressing up is a huge part of the faire. While dressing up is optional one could either rent a costume for a day or buy an entire outfit at the faire. I bought my first faire outfit from Titania’s Closet back in 2007; I wonder if it still fits…? It was nice seeing different outfits and how dressed were worn. Flower crowns, pleasant blouses, and bodices were fairly standard. While we were waiting for the crowd to die down, Jay and I began people watching observing outfits for inspiration and associating each person’s faire ensemble with a D&D or Final Fantasy job class (we saw a lot of mages and rogue’s!).
Shoppingwise, most places took card. My main focus is always on tea’s, food, and mystic arts. Jay’s focus was on hats and fancy clothes. Jay came home with a brand spankin’ new custom belt. I came home with tea’s, soaps, and plenty of jars of honey! There’s definitely a lot of small businesses to support and explore – shopping is a big part of the faire!
I’m glad we stayed until the very end of the Faire. There was a procession for the queen outside the entrance. All faire players sang a song to thank everyone for attending (like it was the ending credits!). It was a neat way to end our day at the faire.
Spring is always a busy time of year for us, but I’m glad we made time to return to the faire. We would definitely do Renn Con again (or just the faire in general!). But next time…Final Fantasy job classes or Genshin?
You can learn more about Renaissance Pleasure Faire in SoCal here.