Sara, 27

Is this your first time at the Renaissance festival? Are you a regular?
I'm a regular! I've been coming once a season since I was seven years old, so, twenty years.

Happy twentieth! What attracts you to the Renaissance festival?
When I was a kid, it was because my parents brought me. When I was a teenager, I knew people who worked here. And then recently, I started bringing my boyfriend, and now he really likes it. It's something we enjoy doing together.

So, how did you and your boyfriend meet? Was it a Renaissance Festival hookup?
We actually met in a Rocky Horror cast on the University of Maryland campus. I was the costume mistress and I also played Janet. He was tech.

Is there a community that you're a part of?
There's a couple of different communities within the whole Renaissance Festival structure. There are online news groups based on different sects in the community — for instance, the wenches have their thing going and they're actually a big charity organization, part of the International Wenches Guild. It's similar for rogues — not the band, just guys who dress up — and people who are friends from other things and then collectively come to the fair, like us.

Is there a role-playing community based on this at all?
There are definitely a lot of people who have met here, just sort of normal like you would meet anywhere else. The Ren Festival also has a large number of people in the fetish community who tend to hang out here, just because it's generally more accepting than anywhere else — no one is going to look at you funny if you show up wearing an entire leather suit! But furries will show up here occasionally, people who are into alternative lifestyles, pirate fetishes, people who are into that kind of thing. In terms of role-playing for the festival itself, there are people who have a whole other persona when they're here. I tend to not do that, just because I think it's a little silly, but I'm also just generally not into role-playing.

A lot of the costumes, especially for women, seem very sexualized.
Yes. They're very suggestive. Very booby. They recently put a new caveat in the rules — it used to be the only two rules were no weapons could be real, and no pets. But now costumes have to be family-friendly because the leather skirts were getting shorter and tops were getting lower and girls were falling out all over the place. So they had to make some rules about that. But otherwise, it's a place where you can show up wearing basically whatever, and nobody's going to bat an eye at you.

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