Destination Iowa: Renaissance Faires

Explore Fairy Tale & Fantasy

Story & Photos by
Steve Nibbelink
The Record
Graphic Designer

It is the time of fairy tale and fantasy.  Knights of old do battle once again.  The Renaissance Faires of Iowa hold court in the Amana Colonies over the Memorial Day weekend every year.  There are also three events in the Des Moines Sleepy Hollow Sports Park the first three weekends of September.
The 19th annual Iowa Renaissance Festival & Gathering o’ Celts was held at the Middle Amana Park Memorial Day weekend.  This family friendly gathering was named ‘Iowa’s Best Family Fest’ for the third year in a row

European history and world culture were presented as edutainment for all age groups. The characters, theatrics and folkways of the 13th to 17th centuries were brought to life with a cast of 200 costumed role-players. The true-to-life jousting matches, cultural exhibitions, and demonstrations entertained people from all over the state.

Sir Broderick Geoffrey and Sir Roland Fallsworth of Joust Evolution preformed to a cheering crowd three times a day for the entire weekend.  Sir Geoffrey cautions his younger fans that he has been jousting professionally for 20 years and he’s still learning.  His opponent for the weekend, Sir Fallsworth tore a tendon in his hand on the last joust of the day on Saturday.  Fallsworth has endured 7 major surgeries, 4 minor surgeries, and 300 stitches during his career.  His advice is to not do this at home.

The Brotherhood of the Steel is a volunteer organization that demonstrates sword fighting.  Their members train for a year and half with wooden mock-ups before they are allowed to fight with metal swords.  Stavolin, a Norse Guard has been sword fighting for more years than he can remember.  He suffered an injury during the weekend and had his fight permit pulled.

However, individuals can partake in other aspects of the fun.  There are inter-active demonstrations of bow and arrow shooting, knife throwing, and foam sword fights.  You can increase your fun by purchasing period authentic costumes from local vendors.  Jewelry dealers, leather workers, steel smiths, and weapons specialists will help you complete your costume.  A basic costume will run about $100 – $150 for a tunic, pants, belt, and blade.

If you missed out on this year’s Memorial Day event you can follow next year’s schedule at this web site.
If you’d still like to attend a Renaissance Faire this year there are three weekends in September filled with medieval entertainment.

The opening weekend of the 8th annual Des Moines Renaissance Faire brings Canterbury-on-Sherwood to life with knights in shining armor, warriors from ages past and the classic legends from stories of European lore.

Sept. 11th – 12th – ‘SCOTS, BRITONS & IRISH’
From the Highland Champions and their heavy lifting games to the archers of Sherwood Forest, the land of faerie tales and pre-American history (Great Britain) brings us entertainment, food and merchants from afar. Be thee Scot, Welsh, Cornish, Irish, Briton, English, leprechaun, elfin, faery, Shakespearian or are simply intrigued by these lively cultures, this weekend was created for lasting memories and the pleasure of all.

The Queen’s Navy sails the high seas, yet docks at the Canterbury River, only to find freebooters of all sorts, both historical and fantasy. From Capt. Morgan to Capt. Hook and from sailing wenches to treehouse faeries, this is the weekend for all things of sea legend. Landlubbers beware as our castle town gets invaded by delightful characters from lands as near as the Caribbe and as far as Persia.

Sleepy Hollow Sport Park is located just south of the Iowa State Fair, 4051 Dean Avenue, Des Moines, IA, 50317, contact Max Kenkel 515-262-4100 or The web sites for the two events are and

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