25th Anniversary Florida Renaissance Festival at Quiet Waters Park
By Skip Sheffield
The Renaissance Era began in Italy in the 14th century and spread throughout Europe through the 17th century. The Florida Renaissance Festival is considerably newer. It celebrates its landmark 25th anniversary on seven weekends from Feb.11 to March 26 at Quiet Waters Park, 401 S. Powerline Road, Deerfield Beach.
The Ren-Fest began as an idea in the head of Bobby Rodriguez, owner of a talent agency and a working musician himself. Rodriguez proposed his festival in 1990 but it did not come to life until 1992 in Snyder Park near Fort Lauderdale International Airport. The event ran just one weekend and attracted 3,000 enthusiasts. In 1997 the event moved to the larger Topeekeegee Yugnee Park in Hollywood. It remained there for four years before moving to the even larger Quiet Waters Park. Rodriquez recruits acts from all over the country.
“Who knew?,” Rodriguez said recently. “I am totally blessed. I work all year ‘round to put together the festival. It is very labor-intensive. We try to raise the bar every year.”
There are several new acts this year. Debracey Productions presents jousting exhibitions with four fully-armored horsemen. “The Pirates of the Colombian Caribbean” is a new aerial high-wire thrill show. The Roving Blades play and sing Celtic and maritime tunes. “The Greatest Pirate Story Never Told” is an audience interaction show. Empty Hats are street performers of Celtic influence. The Tortuga Twins is a returning act of four comic performers. Carolina Celli perform down-home fiddle tunes, ballads and Celtic tunes.
“I have to go through all sorts of red tape to pull this off,” Rodriguez admits. “It’s actually easier to put on a show in New York of Chicago. But it’s worth it. It’s like an arts festival. The audience can be engaged as much or little as it wants. It’s pure escape from the 21st century.”
Tickets are $21 adults and $9 children 6-11. Children under 5 are free. Group discounts are offered. Call 954-776-1642 or go to www.ren-fest.com.