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Renaissance fair comes to Circus World

September 22, 2018

Accustomed to hosting vintage entertainment, Circus World’s grounds will become a Renaissance-era playground next month.

A Gathering of Rogues and Ruffians, a Renaissance fair, will take place at the Baraboo historic site Oct. 13-14. Featuring jugglers, musicians and activities such as castle sieges and ax throwing, the fair strives to bring the Renaissance era back to life.

The state Department of Tourism gave the organizers, Monroe-based Shakespeare on the Edge, a $40,000 grant to boost the 11th annual event.

“We are thrilled to once again support this exciting event that will attract history enthusiasts to the Baraboo area,” Wisconsin Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett said. “This annual event continues to create a positive economic impact resulting from visitor spending in local hotels and restaurants over the festival weekend.”

During the fair, visitors of all ages will experience aspects of the Renaissance, from jewelry to pottery to costumes of the times. Live performances will feature archery, sword fighting, magic and jousting.

The event is anticipated to attract 6,200 people, generating an estimated $590,000 in visitor spending. Grant funds will go toward advertising to attract day-trippers and out-of-state visitors.

“The grant makes it possible to continue to grow awareness of our unique fair,” said Jennifer Edge Bethel of Shakespeare on the Edge. “Each year, we strive to continue our mission through Shakespeare on the Edge: to make arts accessible for everyone.”

Among the musicians performing will be the Baraboo-based folk band Vardo. Its maestro, Chad Canfield, grew up attending circuses across the Midwest thanks to his uncle, Roger Shautt, who worked with Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey.

“The circus’ music was one of my initial sources of inspiration, and I had always dreamed of becoming the leader of a circus band,” Canfield said. “In a way, you could say that my dream has come true.”

One of the songs on an upcoming Vardo album will feature Circus World’s calliope. “We are very grateful for this opportunity, and I consider it an honor,” Canfield said.

Vardo will perform both days of the Renassance fair. After its final performance Oct. 14, it will hold an after-party at the Al. Ringling Mansion.

“There is something for everyone at this fair, and I believe that this event will be a great time for all who attend,” Canfield said.

Shakespeare on the Edge is organizing the fair as part of its effort to bring arts programming to rural youths, developing character, self-esteem, confidence and peer bonds.

“We are so happy to team with Circus World, the city of Baraboo and Travel Wisconsin, and are grateful for the opportunity to bring this incredible arts experience to Baraboo,” Bethel said. “We hope that people of all ages will come celebrate Rogues and Ruffians’ first year at Circus World.”

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