This weekend, Indian Ladder Farms is bringing people back a few centuries.
The Altamont farm will be filled with pirates, minstrels, fire breathers and jousters in honor of the NY Capital District Renaissance Festival, co-produced by Giacinta Pace and Kendall Hudson.
The two started the festival in 2014, after years of attending and working at other Renaissance fairs. This year marks their seventh festival after they had to cancel in 2020.
“It’s grown exponentially every year. I think that first year, we had over 2,000 people come through our gates. I was just in tears because I just couldn’t believe it,” Pace said.
“Every year we’ve added more vendors, we’ve added more performers and more stages . . . we are really blessed that we’ve been able to make a great show for people [in] the community here. This year, we’re just hoping that it’s bigger and better than ever.”
They’ve added new features like the Troll Museum, which takes attendees on a journey through troll culture. As a grande finale, museum-goers will come face to face with an animatronic troll.
Organizers have also changed up the pub crawl portion of the event. This year, it will be pirate-themed and will have new sections.
“Of course, we have all of the fan favorites that we’re bringing back,” Hudson said. “Everyone loves to see the joust because why wouldn’t you want to see people on horseback riding at each other with sharp pointy sticks hoping to knock each other off?”
For the kids, they’re also bringing back the Princess Tea Party with Princesses Snow, Ella and Katerina.
Throughout the weekend, there’s a packed schedule of performances, some musical some magical and others a mix of both. Daniel Greenwolf will bring Celtic magic and illusions to the stage, while Shakespeare Approves will take audiences on an adventure packed with sword fights and mistaken identities.
Doug Stafford will bring a blend of illusions and juggling tricks to the festival and Vixens En Garde will bring a mix of sword fighting and comedy. There will also be music by The Charmings, Matthew Schwarz and others.
As is often the case with Renaissance festivals, the NY Capital District Renaissance Festival has become a community of sorts.
“We have people that come back year after year and they recognize us when they’re walking up to the gate and we recognize them and it’s . . . a reunion every year,” Hudson said.
“Everybody just enjoys being around each other, socially distanced of course. Sharing that experience and being together, enjoying the music, enjoying the food, enjoying the vendors. It’s just such a great experience.”
Planning this year’s festival came with added challenges, given shifting COVID-19 regulations.
“Every single thing was challenging, it wasn’t one thing. Obviously, safety is big on our minds . . . This year we had to think about things on levels that we hadn’t had to in the past,” Pace said.
Organizers are encouraging mask-wearing and social distancing and requesting that people purchase tickets in advance to cut down on crowding.
“We’re trying to provide all the tools for people to enjoy the festival safely,” Hudson said.
The festival runs from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Indian Ladder Farms, 342 Altamont Rd, Altamont. Tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for children ages 12 and under and free for 2 and under. Attendees are welcome to come in costume and there is a daily costume contest. For tickets and more information visit nycapitaldistrictrenfest.com.