Back to the days of knights and nobles

Through the garden and past the psychic's tent was the 1590s village of Genovese. After strolling by European merchants displaying their wares, you arrive at the scene of a man juggling torches and then putting one out in his mouth.

Once a year folks can project themselves into a different era at the Genoa Renaissance Faire, organized by 42-year residents Martha and Bob Williams and their daughter Kristen Griswold. The fair benefits, in part, the Carson Valley Pops Orchestra.

Williams had this to say about the tradition that began nine years ago: "It just sounded like something really fun to do. Renaissance people are like family. They do acts for our family at night."

Williams said during the two days the Renaissance fair runs she lets the fair workers sleep there on the 8 acres in order to keep their costs down.

"We keep their space rents very low so they can afford to do it and have a good time," she said.

On both Saturday and Sunday she hired Foothill Road residents, the Borges family, to give carriage rides. She also employed four Renaissance guilds: Saint Clair, singers and dancers out of Carson City; the BAC In Time Kids from the Carson City Brewery Arts Center, who performed skits for the nobles; the House of the Blue Dragon of Sparks, who tortured the crowd with water; and the Twilight Knights from San Jose, Calif., presenting sword fighting and more.

Lea Strickler, Williams' other daughter who helps with security, said they usually have 2,500-3,000 people attend the fair, although this year attendance was lower due to events like Hot August Nights in Reno going on at the same time. Strickler brought her two daughters, Sydney, 6, and Haylea, 3, who seemed to be enjoying themselves in their fairy costumes. Sydney wore a fox tail, which Strickler said in Elizabethan days showed that a woman was available.

"We keep it as much in period as we can. I think she does a pretty good job," Strickler said of her mother.

Strickler's wedding ceremony took place at the first Genoa Renaissance Faire in 1997.

"The Queen's Stage is where I got married," said Strickler. "My dad built that for me."

Merchants from countries like "England," "Italy," "Ireland" and the "Far East" were wearing period costumes and selling their wares from about 20 booths containing items such as drums and musical instruments, baskets, tapestries, clothing and accessories.

The event also included performances by Shaska the belly dancer, the Gairin Celtic Band and Miriam Blanchettes Irish Dancers, as well as Trey Cromell, aka Trey Professional Showoff, with his fire juggling.

Cromwell thanked the crowd for supporting his fiery habit.

"Without you, I wouldn't be able to do what I do full time," he told the 20 or so people who remained at the fair during its final hour on Saturday.

Ginger Ehlert, who has lived in Carson Valley since September, was attending the fair, 2242 Main St., at the south end of Genoa on the property of Antiques Plus, for the first time.

"I think it's great. We had a really nice time," she said. "I enjoyed Trey the juggling act, the belly dancer. I thought some of the crafts are very beautiful and interesting, and it couldn't be in a more beautiful setting."

n Jo Rafferty can be reached at or 782-5121, ext. 210.


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment