King Richard’s No Faire!

By | October 10, 2005

Before I had a blog, I wrote this article about my recent bad experience at King Richard’s Faire. Read the article there, then comment here if you wish!

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103 thoughts on “King Richard’s No Faire!

  1. Danielle

    I must say that this page I stumbled across is very interesting and has kept me intrigued for the past twenty or thirty minutes, so I would like to thank you for that. I do feel sorry for your unfortunate experience, but honestly, I think it’s time to get over it. Your conflict was two years ago, you’ve now found and promoted a better faire, and I think it’s safe to say that you’ve gotten your point across to more than just a few people. What more are you looking for? It sucks that events such as this can’t accommodate everyone, but that’s life, and sometimes you just have to let it go. It’s probably not the last time something like this will happen, and I personally don’t see much good in holding a grudge so long afterwards. It reminds me of a 17 year old more than a grown man. I think that a man with a family should not waste his time complaining on the computer when I’m sure you have much more important and pleasurable things to do. I mean, do you still get satisfaction out of complaining via internet about something that happened a couple of years ago? If so, then please disregard this comment and godspeed good sir.

    Reply
  2. David

    Was here just about a year ago, and I see that a lack of appreciable comprehension skills still plagues your readership. You seem to be rather a good sport about it, delivering as you do the necessary summaries and recaps–and in such a reasonable manner!

    Oh, and, as usual, CRF has more heart (soul?) than KRF, and seems to be garnering more and more of KRF’s old actors… At, what, half the price? I will write up this years impressions and comparisons when I return from CRF (and, yes, I attended KRF this year: somehow I forgot that is less impressive each year–fewer patrons, fewer acts, higher costs…).

    Best regards,

    Reply
  3. jik Post author

    I got this email a few days ago, which I’ve been given permission to reproduce here sans attribution.

    Dear Mr. Kamens,

    I just googled the web for King Richard’s Faire and came across your blog. I am appalled and to be honest, i really did not want to go to the faire that much in the first place. I was simply appeasing some friends during the long weekend ahead but I thank you for the heads up and will be redirecting my plans to the corn maze in Plympton this weekend.

    You made my decision 100% easier and although I am not Jewish, my friend is diabetic and this is not a religious issue but a greed issue.

    Thanks again for taking the time to share.

    Sincerely,

    [name elided]

    After all the comments like this I’ve received since I posted my article, I cannot help but wonder how much money Bonnie Shapiro has lost because of the way she and (some of) her staff treated my family and me.

    Reply
  4. jik Post author

    I think it is highly unlikely that you would be able to get your money refunded after a bad experience at KRF, but feel free to contact them and give it a try. The contact information is on their Web site.

    Reply
  5. christine

    my boyfriend and I had problems with the people being so rude there! I read that you had a similar experience. Is there any way to get your money refunded?

    Reply
  6. Paula

    I spent a lot of time reading your article while deciding if I was going to the CT renaissance faire or King Richards faire (which I’ve been to several times throughout the years). Based on a lot of the information in your article along with information on the CT renaissance faire website, I convinved my husband to take the ride to CT. You are completely correct, the entrance price is significantly less than KRF, there are real bathrooms, the food is extremely reasonable and it is most definitely family friendly. However, we did not have our family with us and we were looking for a little more. The CT faire was completely lacking in atmosphere and performance. I was so very disappointed; enough so that we left CT and drove 2 hours to Carver. We paid the ridiculously over priced admission, entered the forest and all was right with the world. Next year we’ll take the kids to CT for a fun filled family day and then plan a kids free day and head to KRF (we’ll start saving our pennies now). Everyone wins.
    Thank you for your blog, I found your information very helpful and I think others will too. I think the kids will have a blast at the CT faire next year.

    Reply
  7. Mindi

    Jonathan,
    Thanks for the fascinating reading! I’ve learned a lot about KRF and about the general ignorance of humanity in many of the above posts. I’m sorry that you and your family experienced what you did, it doesn’t seem right on oh, so many levels. And nowhere in any of your posts do I see you throwing a temper tantrum or just being pissed off in general. You have simply stated what happened, and why it was wrong, and stood up to others that have disagreed – BRAVO!

    And thank you for standing up for yourself and speaking out against policies that can and should be easily changed or made more accommodating. I’ve been to faires where no outside food is allowed, and I don’t really have an issue with that. However, those same faires allow re-entry, and I have no problem having a picnic in my car to save money. KRF could save a lot of trouble if they just had a re-entry policy, and were a bit more accommodating to those with special needs.

    I’ve learned so much on this blog, my favorite new factoid is that kosher wasn’t invented in the medieval time period – how fascinating!

    And I’m excited to learn about the CT faire. I was going to plan a trip to King Dick’s this month, but now, I’m going to look seriously at the CT faire and hopefully enjoy a more family friendly (and cheaper) day!

    Reply
  8. jik Post author

    You are exactly the type of person who annoys me in day to day life

    The feeling’s mutual, I’m sure.

    Have you ever been to Disney,

    Yes.

    food isn’t cheap there either

    I found the prices rather reasonable, and at least Disney doesn’t make you buy food tickets which you can never quite use up and then refuse to refund the cost of the tickets at the end of the day.

    Not to mention the fact that Disney allows people to bring in their own food, which you’d know if you’d bothered to read the comments above before posting your nasty little missive.

    and I would guess there is no Kosher food either.

    You would guess wrong, which you’d know if you’d bothered to read the comments above before posting your nasty little missive.

    I was a veagan for many years,

    You were a vegan for many years and yet you can’t spell the word “vegan”? Fascinating.

    my wife and I always just ate before or after we enjoyed the fun of the faire.

    You spent a whole day at the Faire without eating? Fascinating.

    I have since taken my son for the last 6 years. He never wants to eat because he’s so excited about all the happenings.

    You take young children to the Faire for hours and don’t feed them anything? Fascinating. You must have a remarkable son, because my four children, as well as the children of every parent I know, become remarkably ill-behaved if they aren’t fed regularly.

    For the love of god give it a rest and just quit complaining. If you have special food requirements just accept that occassionally the whole world won’t adjust just for you.

    No, you’re right, the whole world won’t, but decent establishments which actually care about making their guests comfortable, as opposed to those whose only goal is to extract every penny possible, will.

    So please shut up already. I saw this post when you first made it in 2005 and I am sick of seeing every damn year since.

    I’m sorry, but did I miss the part where I’m somehow forcing you to come back here “every damn year” and read my blog?

    I’ll tell you what… If you stop reading my blog, then you will no longer have to be “sick of” it, and I’ll have comments from one less clueless idiot to put up with. Thanks.

    Reply
  9. FaireFan

    I have been a fan of King Richards Faire and atteneding since it started. You are exactly the type of person who annoys me in day to day life and who shouldn’t attend the Faire. Heaven forbid that you with your “special food” requirements can’t enjoy the faire and eat elsewhere. Have you ever been to Disney, food isn’t cheap there either and I would guess there is no Kosher food either. I was a veagan for many years, my wife and I always just ate before or after we enjoyed the fun of the faire. I have since taken my son for the last 6 years. He never wants to eat because he’s so excited about all the happenings. We always have a big breakfast and snack before we go in and then go for a nice early dinner after the faire. For the love of god give it a rest and just quit complaining. If you have special food requirements just accept that occassionally the whole world won’t adjust just for you. So please shut up already. I saw this post when you first made it in 2005 and I am sick of seeing every damn year since.

    Reply
  10. jik Post author

    You also can’t bring your own food into restaurants,

    Yes, actually, you can. I have, on many occasions, gone to non-Kosher restaurants with friends and/or coworkers and brought my own food. I see people openly bringing their own food into Starbucks all the time.

    I try to call in advance and ask permission when I need to bring my own food to a restaurant because I’m going with a group. Permission has always been granted graciously.

    I’m Jewish,

    Sometimes it seems like the people who are most offended by the fact that some Jews keep Kosher, and least likely to defend them, are the Jews who don’t.

    Reply
  11. Neal Barrie

    You also can’t bring your own food into restaurants, so be sure to write and complain about every single restaurant on the face of the planet, which is also a worthless, whiny pursuit.

    If you have any diet you wish to follow in ANY place and they can not accommodate you, eat before, eat after, or eat in your car in the parking lot.

    This is not a religious issue. I go to the Faire yearly. I pick out exactly which shows I will watch in advance, and plan my day around what of the available food and beverages I will or won’t enjoy. I always feel like I get $5/hour’s worth of entertainment for my 5 hours there.

    I’m Jewish, and the fact that your particular dietary restriction is kosher, as apposed to gluten free, wheat free, corn free, meat free, etc has no bearing. You don’t have to eat there.

    Neal

    Reply
  12. Isabelle

    Hello:
    I went to KRF for the first time yesterday and was not impressed for a sundry of reasons. Your story sickened me when I read it and I was equally disgusted my Ms. Shapiro’s attempt to justify what can only be called avaricious behavior. No I am not Jewish and no I do not suffer from any debilitating dietary condition. I do however sympathize with what your family had to go through and any other individual who should be forced to “eat before the faire” or not go because of KRF’s seemingly draconian rules. Please do not let any other respondents deter you into thinking that your stance is not justified. I wonder now that if any of KRF employees had seen me feeding my 10 month old son his pureed peas and turkey dinner that I brought onto the grounds would they still uphold the same rule.

    Reply
  13. jik Post author

    Some e-mail I got today:

    I am terribly sorry to hear of your plight. You would think to keep your business, that they would take the necessary steps in fixing these problems. While I haven’t experienced the discrimination you and your family were made to endure, I have attended the King Richard’s Faire in the past, and was amazed at how expensive a day there would cost. After driving over an hour from Hartford, CT and spending the gas money to get there, I found that was just the beginning of their swindle. By the time I got my family in the gate, got them fed, paid for pony rides, and tipped the performers, there was no money left to stop at the gift shops on the way out.

    I do hope they change their ways, although I don’t think they will. I for one will support your cause and will boycott the faire this year. I am actually going to take my family to the Connecticut Faire you mentioned on your website instead.

    Reply
  14. srrlesc

    Hi jik,
    I have to chime in here. I have lived in the area for my whole life and attended the KRF several times both as a child and, now, as an adult.
    I am attending again this year with my 9-year-old and 7-year-old because we happened upon free passes. (Otherwise, they know, we wouldn’t be attending – ever.) They have both been loudly heard announcing to friends and relatives, “WE’RE GOING TO KING RIPOFF’S FAIRE! :)” I am proud to lay claim on the coining of this succint phrase.
    Thanks for your thoughtful (and at times amusing) commentary and I am truly sorry that your family suffered due to the greed of yet another person operating under the “business is business” mentality.

    Reply
  15. jik Post author

    If you tried to pull this stunt at a “reputable” entertainment institution (ie sports game etc.) with the same no food/drink policy, you would be laughed at, let alone get an audience with the owner.

    I suggest you try actually reading the article to which you’re responding before you put your foot in your mouth making assertions that have already been disproven. Is Disney World a “‘reputable’ entertainment institution”? How about Fenway Park? How about concerts produced by Clear Channel Communications? How about the Connectitut Renaissance Faire? As I noted in my article, all of these venues allow outside food to be brought in for religious or medical reasons. For that matter, ever other venue I’ve ever patronized has allowed it; KRF is the only one I’ve had trouble with in my entire life.

    Not to mention there must’ve been something you could’ve eaten inside the faire.

    Again, you really ought not to spout off on topics about which you are ignorant. No, there is no food in KRF that can be consumed by Jews who keep strictly Kosher, because none of it is under supervision and therefore cannot be known to be Kosher. Furthermore, given the close proximity in which all the food is prepared and the huge amounts of could-never-possibly-be-Kosher types of food that are served there, the odds are really quite high that none of it is Kosher, irrespective of the supervision issue.

    So.. what the hell is the problem?

    It looks to me like the problem is that you’re a clueless git. But that’s just a guess.

    Reply
  16. Mr. Common Sense

    If you tried to pull this stunt at a “reputable” entertainment institution (ie sports game etc.) with the same no food/drink policy, you would be laughed at, let alone get an audience with the owner.

    Not to mention there must’ve been something you could’ve eaten inside the faire.

    So.. what the hell is the problem?

    Reply
  17. jik Post author

    The Boston Herald ran its annual free advertising for King Richard’s Faire today. Every year it runs a big picture of the Faire’s promotional act in Boston with a caption telling people how to go. I just sent them this letter, which I doubt they’ll print but it was worth a try:

    To the editor:

    Those wishing to attend a renaissance faire would do well to consider the Connecticut Renaissance Faire as an alternative to King Richard’s Faire.

    The Connecticut faire is superior in many respects, including: it’s far less expensive ($42 vs. $78 for a family of four, with numerous available discounts); credit cards are accepted; drinking water is available for free; kids’ games are free; there are real bathrooms instead of outhouses; you are permitted to leave and re-enter the faire; and you are permitted to bring your own food if you wish.

    More information about the Connecticut Renaissance Faire may be found at http://www.ctfaire.com.

    Sincerely,

    Jonathan Kamens

    Reply
  18. jik Post author

    The Faire can do what they want with their property.

    Well, no, actually, they can’t. There are many, many laws dictating what the Faire can and can’t do “with their property.” For example, they can’t prohibit disabled people who require a special diet from bringing their food into the Faire. I don’t know whether they in fact prohibit this or not. If so, then they’re violating the ADA, and they’re lucky that nobody’s sued them. If not, then your song and dance about how letting people who keep Kosher bring in their own food would cause huge problems is absurd, because they already do it for people with medical dietary restrictions.

    Also regardless of whether or not this no food policy was posted on the website, it is still not your choice.

    You’re right, it’s not. But it is my choice not to go there, and it is my choice to tell other people that I don’t think they should go there either.

    1. Any business can charge what they want, however steep it may be.

    Actually, there are many laws restricting what various businesses can charge for various different products and services. I do agree with you that there’s nothing illegal about the ridiculously high entry fees charged by KRF. I also agree with you that there are obviously people willing to pay those fees, and that if I don’t like it, it’s my choice not to go there.

    But, again, it’s also my choice to tell other people that I don’t think they should go there either.

    2. The website is a luxury and while it may have been inaccurate before if you check now it is revised and states under general information that no food is allowed.

    Yes, I noted that in a comment above dated July 2006. Nice of you to read what other people have written before commenting.

    3. The food issue because lets [sic] face it this is what its [sic] really about.

    Yes, of course that’s what it’s really about.

    Cut it all down to the gnitty gritty, its a business. To make money.

    Absolutely. The owner of the Faire thinks she’ll make more money by treating people like dirt (no reentry, no bringing in one’s own food, no decent bathrooms, no water fountains, every ride costs money, the cast members are abused as much as the customers, etc.). Maybe she’s even right about all that. I think businesses that treat their customers that way are abhorrent. I won’t patronize them, and I will tell other people that I don’t think they should patronize them either.

    Putting yourself and the other angry customers in the minority. Sad to say but its the majority of people that get what they want.

    It’s really not as simple as majority / minority, but your overall point is valid. If there aren’t enough people who disagree with how KRF is run to cause significant problems for the people who run it, then they’re not going to change. One way for people who disagree with how a business is run can effect change is by publicizing their concerns, and that’s what my article is about.

    My article is also meant as a warning, to other people like me, not to go to KRF if they care about the food issue like I do. If you’d bothered to read the comments by other people in response to my article, you’d see that I’ve saved a number of other people from encountering the problem that I did.

    You don’t go to Best Buy and say I don’t agree that you must send my computer to a service center to be fixed under my service plan.

    Perhaps not, but you might not buy from Best Buy if you don’t like their service policies. And if you do buy from them and then discover that their service policies are not to your liking, then you might not only complain to them and tell them that they’ve lost your future business, but also tell other people what you experienced and suggest that they shop elsewhere. Overall, it’s a good analogy; thanks for bringing it up.

    Here’s another one…

    My employer bought me a Compaq laptop from HP about seven months ago. Four different things on the laptop broke within three weeks of its arrival. I contacted HP support, and they said that I was going to have to send back the laptop to be repaired. I told them in no uncertain terms that I could not afford to be without the laptop for several weeks, and that when four different things break on a piece of computer hardware during normal usage within weeks of its arrival, the hardware clearly was not burned in properly before being shipped, and I expected them to treat the unit as defective and ship me a replacement, so that I could transfer my hard drive over to the replacement and not lose any work time with the laptop. They resisted, and then relented, and I got my replacement as I had demanded.

    Another thing, grow up. Honestly this is nothing more than an over elaborate tantrum.

    Our country has a loud, proud tradition of consumer activism which goes hand in hand with our capitalist tradition. Businesses have the right to run themselves as they see fit, within the law. And consumers have the right not only to choose whether or not to patronize businesses based on how they are run, but also to speak out and tell other people when they think that a business’s practices are wrong.

    Was Roger & Me “an over elaborate tantrum”? How about Sicko? Was Ralph Nader throwing “an over elaborate tantrum” when he wrote Unsafe at Any Speed? Was Erin Brockovich throwing “an over elaborate tantrum” when she forced PG&E to compensate its victims? Was Karen Silkwood throwing “an over elaborate tantrum” when she exposed rampant safety violations at the Kerr-McGee plant?

    Clearly, KRF refusing to allow people to bring in their own food is small potatoes compared to any of those cases. I’m no Moore (thank God!), Nader, Brockovich, or Silkwood. Nobody’s going to die because of how KRF treats its customers and cast members. But that doesn’t make it right, and that doesn’t mean that those of us who think it’s wrong shouldn’t speak out about it.

    Instead of slandering a place because your [sic] pissed off, take two steps back and relax.

    I have not slandered KRF, and I will not “relax” about things that I believe are just plain wrong. I have written at length about my reasons for this here, so I shan’t do so again.

    I have read your other articles and quite frankly I have to say you act like your [sic] the only person with a customer service problem.

    No, that’s not what I think at all. I do, however, think that I’m in the minority of people who actually tries to do something about it, as I explained in my first blog entry, referenced above.

    People who have bad customer service experiences and don’t complain are wrong. They’re wrong because the only reason businesses get away with bad customer service is because their customers let them. Every time someone makes a fuss about a bad service experience, it’s less likely that the provider of that experience will do the same thing to someone else. Every legitimate complaint about a bad service experience has the potential to make the world a better place for the next guy.

    Get over it and get in line, wait your turn and deal with it.

    If you want to allow yourself to be abused by uncaring businesses and do nothing to improve the situation for yourself or others, that’s your choice. I choose differently. I know that as result I’ve made a positive difference in other people’s lives; can you say the same?

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  19. Mike P

    *I have been to a LOT of faires over the past 38 years, and have never been to one that did not permit you to bring in your own food or non-alcoholic beverages. (Alcohol is a different story altogether, and is always strictly governed by state law.) Obviously I have not been to King Richard’s.*

    Regardless of how many faires you have been to it is not your decision. The Faire can do what they want with their property. Also regardless of whether or not this no food policy was posted on the website, it is still not your choice.

    Lets get some facts straight

    1. Any business can charge what they want, however steep it may be.
    2. The website is a luxury and while it may have been inaccurate before if you check now it is revised and states under general information that no food is allowed.
    3. The food issue because lets face it this is what its really about. Your angry because an exception was not made for you because regardless of reasons you are a bagged luncher. A bagged lunch is just that, bagged. If a business does not allow it the oh well eat in the car. Plenty of other places do not allow bagged lunches. I ski up north the bagged lunch area in cannon mountain is a basement. But I suck it up. I came for the skiing not the lunch room. The point is if they don’t allow bagged lunches they don’t have to let you in with it. Mean to say yes, poor practice yes, don’t get me wrong I agree with you that it sucks. I would like to bring a cheaper lunch in their but once again I don’t go for the food. Ive been to the Faire at least 3 times a year since I could drive myself (4 years ago). I suck it up, if im low on cash its subway before and dinner at home after.

    Cut it all down to the gnitty gritty, its a business. To make money. Thats all, while it may be great entertainment for those that enjoy it. It still boils down to a money maker. While it may be expensive it is still open after 26 years with plenty of patrons willing to pay the price and eat the food. Putting yourself and the other angry customers in the minority. Sad to say but its the majority of people that get what they want. You don’t go to Best Buy and say I don’t agree that you must send my computer to a service center to be fixed under my service plan. Fix it here, I don’t have time to wait. Sorry doesn’t work like that. Policy is policy, because as you eat your bagged lunch, the family next to you goes to the staff and says “why cant I have a bagged lunch”?, the staff will answer with the policy they have been trained to follow, and the family will say “well they have a bagged lunch”.
    So it begins, you would start a chain of very angry customers and patrons feeling like they had been screwed, because you have to have your kosher meal. Eat your Kosher meal its fine, but dont be surprised when an establishment that clearly states “No Outside Food Or Drink” says No you cannot bring food in their.

    Another thing, grow up. Honestly this is nothing more than an over elaborate tantrum. You made a big stink about the policy and got nowhere, and your mad about it. Instead of slandering a place because your pissed off, take two steps back and relax. I have read your other articles and quite frankly I have to say you act like your the only person with a customer service problem. Get over it and get in line, wait your turn and deal with it.

    Reply
  20. jik Post author

    It’s moot in the sense that neither I nor anyone in my family will ever go to KRF again. It’s not moot in the sense that as far as I know, the management of KRF continues to treat people as I described in my article about it, and this has been verified by both Faire attendees and cast members.

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  21. jackie

    Just dropping by to see what has transpired. It has been a long time now and I wonder if you have ever gotten any satisfaction from this experience or is it a moot point now.

    Reply
  22. Rose

    I know this is a well-tired issue, but as I was starting to make plans to go to KRF and have happened upon this article, I’m glad I didn’t. Frankly, I’ve been saying for years that its a place you pay to get into, to buy stuff, and knowing this going into it, I had no problem paying the fees. However, I will not condone this sort of behavior and will not be going to the faire this year (or future years) on principle.

    Really quickly, I’d like to comment on a point that someone (an employee, I guess) made earlier. About where the money goes —

    “All I can hypothesize is that prices were increased due to the taxes on the land, constant repairs that have to be done to keep the place from falling apart, paying the security for keeping patrons and players safe, septic charges (very neccessary!!)…”

    I can’t attest to the taxes on the land, but the last time I was at the faire it was in no way up to any health code I’ve ever seen, nor were there any septic systems available. We have to use port-a-poties. (Fun…) As for the security, I’ve personally experienced the “What-you got in your bag” routine, and let me tell you, dumping out my contact lense solution to check for alcoholic beverages does not maketh me feel safer.

    To be fair, though, I never reported my bad experiences for the same reason most people don’t. It’s just how things go. I don’t think I’ll be doing that anymore.

    Reply
  23. sam brown

    BONNIE LEARNED WELL FROM RICHARD, GREED GREED GREED. IM FROM WISCONSIN AND WENT YEARLY TO KRF FROM 1973 TO 1987. THE SHAPIROS RAPED THE WISCONSIN FAIRE BEFORE THEY PACKED UP AND WENT TO CARVER. YOU THINK CARVER IS BAD, SHAPIRO COULD’T EVEN GET A LICENSE TO SELL BEER FROM KENOSHA COUNTY UNTILL 1986. TRY PAYING TWO BUCKS FOR NEAR BEER. I MADE A LARGE PURCHASE FROM A CRAFTER IN 1983 AND RAN INTO THE SHAPIROS WHILE CARRYING MY PURCHASE OUT. RICHARDS COMMENT TO BONNIE WAS “WELL I GUESS SOMEONES BOOTH RENTAL IS PAID FOR”. ITS ALL ABOUT THEIR GREED, NOW HERS BECAUSE RICHARD DIED A RATHER PAINFUL DEATH, THERE IS SOME JUSTICE IN THE WORLD.

    Reply
  24. jik Post author

    As I noted clearly in my description of what transpired, I spoke to several people at the gate, including Ms. Shapiro herself, in an effort to resolve the situation. No one was able to accommodate our needs in any way. I find claims that the opposite might occur to be rather unconvincing, considering that a number of other Faire staff members have confirmed that people are regularly treated as we were, and considering that the person making these claims isn’t even aware of what policies are posted at the front gate (and have been for years).

    The other points made above have been addressed at length in my article and the comments on it, so I will not bother to address them again.

    Reply
  25. Rob

    Hello.
    I have read what you posted, and for the most part, understand the aggravation of what you and your family went through. I am an apprentice at KRF, and play a villager when I am there. While I am not paid to be there, I am under contract. That being said, I do agree with the concerns you raised and wish to assist you in your problem(s).

    Firstly, the prices at the gate have been a constant concern and pain the butt for many of the staff and players at the Faire and we sympathize with you on the matter. Unfortunately, there is nothing we can do on the matter. All I can hypothesize is that prices were increased due to the taxes on the land, constant repairs that have to be done to keep the place from falling apart, paying the security for keeping patrons and players safe, septic charges (very neccessary!!), advertising, and paying the staff who have ‘official’ jobs there. Sure, some of it might be due to greed, but I don’t know enough on Mrs. Shapiro’s personal beliefs and morals to comment on it officially. I’m stuck with hearsay.

    Secondly, on the concerns about the food being brought in. TALK TO THE PEOPLE OUTSIDE THE GATES ABOUT YOUR SITUATIONS! The lot of us care about you people coming inside, and we want you to have a good time! We also care about your safety, but we are unable to do anything if we don’t know about your problems. I know that while people are waiting outside, there are lines and people’s patience begin to wear thin. Anger doesn’t solve anything except to cause more difficulties and finding more anger and aggravation.
    I personally don’t recall if there has been a sign on the gates coming in stating about the ‘NO OUTSIDE FOOD OR DRINK’ but I know that we are stuck asking people not to bring outside stuff in, as it could be laced with something, and the Faire could become liable for injuries on the grounds.

    Please though, if you do have a unique situation with your lifes’ medical and/ or religious needs, tell us. Hopefully an accommodation could be figured out. But we can’t help if we don’t know. There are players outside the gates at all hours of the day, (and I know because I’ve been one of them) and they are generally good people. If you have a problem, tell us, and we will try to get it taken care of. It might take some time, but the effort would be made.
    Please understand that we are only human.

    Stated prior was the fact that the boothies and gamers do have to pay money to be there is true.
    There are actors that are paid, and many who aren’t.
    However, we all have to answer to the Shapiro family who own the Faire, and who try to run it properly. It is their ship, we’re their crew, and while they can easily order us to walk the plank, hopefully they are trying to fix problems that do come up instead.

    I am not pro- Shapiro or anti- Shapiro. I love the Faire and those that come within.
    I am not of the Judaic faith, however I try to respect it, and all others that follow a belief that I come across.
    We are all different and we all must answer for the actions we have chosen.
    We each make decisions, some can be smart and others can be dumb, but hopefully we can fix our problems.

    I hope this helps your and others’ concerns.

    I love the Faire and I am sorry that you had a bad time with it, but I do hope you will return.

    Reply
  26. Pat

    I am an employee at King Richards Faire, though not an employee of the Faire itself. After reading your article on the absurd policies regarding outside food i felt compelled to comment on it, only to find that many of my fellow “rennies” had already done so.
    While I agree completely with the summation of the character of it’s owner, i have to stress (as some of them did) most of the participants of the Faire do not work for the faire. The crafters and games pay quite a bit to be there, in addition to exorbinant insurance premiums on the part of the games, ( which could explain miss Shapiro’s lack of concern for that aspect, though not the allowance of patrons to bring weapons inside).
    I’d also like to touch on another aspect of the food issue. You did not have to deal with this, but I know of others for whom this was the final straw in regards to their decision to never return to KRF.
    Food tickets. Food can only be purchases with tickets sold in five dollar lots, fifty cents per ticket. These tickets are non redeemable for money if you don’t use them all, and the color of them is changed yearly so you cannot save them for next years trip. In addition, the denomination of the tickets combined with the prices of the food items makes it nearly impossible to buy a five dollar batch (or ten or twenty…etc) and not end the day without a couple of dollars worth of tickets still in your pocket. Just another way KRF can squeeze a few bucks out of you for and give nothing in return.
    One final comment, this on Ms. Shapiro’s response to your letter. I have worked for KRF for over ten years, and at NO point have I seen “hundreds of roaming period street actors”. If there were a hundred street actors in any of the years i worked there i would eat my kilt. The “street actors” who Ms. Shapiro refers to are probably the same crafters and gamers she charges to be there, and who in many cases interact with the patrons more than the actors.
    Mind you, i mean no disrespect to the actors. Those who have been there for years and love this job have nothing but my deepest respect. What i am referring to is those who are only there for the free pass into the fair, and feel since they are not getting paid, they don’t have to work. I have a hard time faulting them for that, as many of them are teenagers who just want to be there for the atmosphere.
    What I am trying to illustrate with this inane babble is this, when you lose sight of the human aspect of the families who pay these fees to get in, and concentrate only on your bottom line, then that attitude will permeate the entire faire grounds in ways that degrade the quality of the entire production. The faire in Conn. may be smaller, but it’s owners are doing it because the love it, not because it was left to them after it’s creator passed away.
    I am very sorry you had such an insult on what should have been a wonderful day for your family, but I am glad it did not sour you entirely on the Rennaissance Faire experience.
    Cheers

    Reply
  27. jik Post author

    …but the thing is, once uve entered the faire, u can take ur ticket stub, leave and come bakk. u can eat in ur car, its not hard.

    I think perhaps you need to go back and read my article again, because you seem to have missed a few salient points.

    You cannot, in fact, take your ticket stub, leave and come back. King Richard’s Faire is one of the only amusement venues I’ve ever been in (perhaps the only one) that doesn’t allow you to exit and reenter on the same day. This policy is clearly and prominently posted at the entrance, and when I asked if we could leave to eat our lunch and then come back, which would have been enough to prevent me from saying any more about it, they refused to allow it.

    Reply
  28. Rebecca

    i kno y they wouldnt let u bring the food in. but the thing is, once uve entered the faire, u can take ur ticket stub, leave and come bakk. u can eat in ur car, its not hard. my family isnt exactly well off but i am related to someone in the faire so they give us tickets, so thats how we get in. but while we r there, i realized that they ppl that walk around selling things, roses, wisdom, or w/e it may be, thats their ONLY paycheck. they also “demand” (as u put it) cash because it is easily distributed thru out the workers. the individaul shops and rides, thats the only money they get. its like going to a mall and expecting that once u paid for something u get everything else for free. the money the ppl there earn is used for the animals, like elephants, horses, ligers, tigers, loins, and birds. they also need to travel ALL over the country. rite now my relative is in Chicago, he was given money to drive there. u need to understand how hard they have it.

    Reply
  29. David

    I was all set to transmit my annoyance at your kvetshing, and I agree, in part, with those who have noted some level of “attitude” on your part (especially with regard to, e.g., your Staples experience), but by the time I reached the respondent questioning whether kosher had been ivended [sic] by the mideval [sic] period, I was laughing out loud and with a sense of what you are up against.

    Bonnie Shapiro is, by the way, not viewed as a pleasant person (the evident fear in KRF employees’ responses was downright frightening). KRF does have, however, three necessary components: location, location, location (and, in this instance, I mean the KRF village rather than Carver). The CTRF, especially this year, suffered greatly by comparison.

    If faires are your thing, check out http://nerennies.com for their comprehensive calendar, commentary, and community.

    Carry on.

    Reply
  30. Misty Turner

    I worked at KRF for a year and a little bit as a street performer, and really your assessments are dead on. Bonnie is… interesting to work for, very aloof and unconcerned about the faire as I took it – only money. The performers were poorly regarded by management, and took care of themselves – to me, they were always the only part of the show worth going for – people like the Pope and the Cardinal, Percy, the Heyo, and the rest of the court.

    I moved to the DC area, and the faires down here are night and day – cheaper, season tickets, bring in your own food – they treat attendees as guests in their home, which is never the case at KRF.

    KRF has lost almost all of their quality acts, and even getting ‘big names’ like ded bob won’t save their reputation these days. They have the worst on the circuit, but it wasn’t always that way. Vote with your money – CT faire, or another activity. KRF was once my favorite faire in the world, but I will never return there myself.

    Reply
  31. Pamela Ryba

    Hi!

    Thank you so much for bringing this issue to light. As a Kosher-keeping Conservative Jewish family with members with life-threatening allergies to nuts and peanuts, we’re used to bringing food with us everywhere we go. Last summer we actually left Canobie Lake amusement park without entering when we were told we could not bring in our own food. The kids were crying, we were outraged, and after driving almost an hour we had to turn around and go home. (Note Canobie even states on their website the concessions use peanut oil, so the Kosher thing aside, it was still a no-go.)

    We were planning on attending KRF on Sunday the 15th to celebrate our 8 year old’s birthday, but now we’ll find something else to do. I would have been livid to have had it happen to us again! Keep in mind, we have brought food into movie theaters, zoos, restaurants, Disney, etc with the blessing of the management because of the Kosher and/or peanut issue.

    Reply
  32. jik Post author

    Upon reading the previous comment, I understood for the first time, in a flash of inspiration, why newspaper editors sometimes print letters to the editor whose authors make themselves look like idiots. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

    Reply
  33. Katehdonium.

    ok. i couldnt even read this any further then the ‘kosher food’ bit. you need to think about this in a LOGICAL maner. this faire is based on the mideval times. do you really think that they even INVENDED kosher in that time period!?!

    thank you for being terribly misinformed.

    thats all i have to say about that.

    Reply
  34. Nick Hansen

    Good Afternoon,

    I came across your blog/gripe about King Richard’s Faire as I was looking for information about it. I am going there this coming weekend (Sept 23-25) and just wanted to know a little about it before I go.

    I have to say that when I first began reading your letter, I was disgusted. I thought to myself: “oh great, another whiner with a personal problem trying to ruin everyone else’s fun”. I stand corrected.

    Obviously I am not Jewish; incidentally I am agnostic and follow no set religion. What I do believe, however is the power of goodness – which was certainly not displayed by the management at King Richard’s Faire. I believe, after reading though all your posts, replys, and retorts, that Ms. Shapiro could easily fix the problem simply by adding Kosher items to their menu. Problem solved. (Assuming, possibly in ignorance, that Kosher food could indeed be provided)

    Do I believe you could have handled this better yourself? Yes. Anger only produces anger. Not only did you put Ms. Shapiro’s back up when you made your point, but as you said, even your own family suffered though your own day-long tantrum. A simple decision on your part needed to be made … to stay or leave. Stay and abide by the current rules, and lobby for their change after, would have been an acceptable decision. As would the decisoin to leave, and not return until those policies have changed.

    Their policies were/are wrong – your reaction left something to be desired. As we all learn from chilhood: “Two wrongs don’t make a right”.

    Good luck to you in your campaign to change the obviously discrimitory practices at King Richard’s Faire. I support those changes and would happly do my part to change them. But anger won’t help.

    Thank you,

    Nick

    Reply
  35. jik Post author

    Wow, what an amazing collection of misinformation!

    The article here is filled with falsified information, possibly to fuel the writers stance? For example, stating that the “outrageous gate admission price of $24 adults is more than Six Flags or Di$ney park” is REDICULOUS!!!

    Where did you get that quote from?  I actually wrote exactly the opposite.  Quoting directly from my article: “The Faire charges a whopping $24 for adults and $12 for children. That’s less than other attractions like Six Flags or Disney World…”.

    Disney is double the amount for KRF — $48 for adults (and soon to be $50). Six Flags, ANY of the SF parks, is not far begind the Disney price.

    Additionally, bringing up that KRF is not ADA compliant is also rediculous. As someone with dietary restrictions as well (Celiac/Sprue Disease), it’s way more important that I stick to a regimented diet than a Kosher Jew (rationale being that if someone of the Hebrew faith eats something that’s not Kosher, it’s not life threatening as it is in my instance!).

    People of any faith who believe that their actions are commanded by God would tend to dispute your claim that their adherence to the dictates of God are “less important” than your dietary restrictions.  And what this has to do with ADA compliance is lost on me.

    It’s real simple, people. Eat before you go to the Faire, or don’t go to the Faire at all. You have options here, yet you make it out like you don’t have any options at all and are being strong armed by the park owners.

    I have already responded to this recommendation and shan’t bother to do so again.

    Suggestion: Lose the “Victim” attitude.

    A “victim attitude” is letting other people treat you badly and not speaking out.  What I’m doing is exactly the opposite of a “victim attitude.”

    Fact: I’ve been to every amuement and themed park on the North American continent. I can tell you that only a very small handful of traditional (old-fashioned) amusement parks still allow attendees to bring food/drink into the park with them.

    First of all, I’ve been to plenty of attractions which allow it.  Including Disney World, incidentally.

    Second, whether or not many attractions treat their customers badly is rather irrelevant to the question of whether consumers should put up with being treated badly.  Has it occurred to you that the reason why so many of them get away with it is because people put up with it like sheep?

    Third, please note that my complaint was not merely that we were not allowed to bring food into the park with us, but that we were not even allowed to leave to eat our lunch and reenter the park.  As I’ve noted rather clearly, that would have been sufficient, although it would be nice to also provide a place for people who choose to eat their own food to do so (like, e.g., Edaville USA, right down the road from KRF, does).

    All of these are points I’ve already made, which means that you are either ignoring them on purpose or you can’t read.  The fact that you started your attack on my article with a purported quote from it that says the opposite of what I actually wrote would seem to suggest the former; the fact that you don’t seem to be able to spell very well would seem to suggest the latter.

    These are typically also those parks that are non-gated and do not feature an admission price onto the park grounds. Not even in Canada or Mexico are patrons allowed to bring food or drink items into the park with them.

    The author goes on to recommend the CT renaissance Faire as a “cheaper alternative – $15 versus $24,” but failed to note that the CRF doesn’t allow people to bring food or drink into the park, either?

    Yes, actually, they do, and I pointed that out explicitly in my article.  What could you possibly hope to gain from posting a comment which contains such easily disproven falsehoods?

    I’m sorry. When all is said and done, this soapbox does nothing but fuel the generalization that Jews are cheap/niggardly.

    Aha.  Now it becomes clear.  Apparently your baseless, specious attack on what I’ve written is motivated by antisemitism.  Thanks for clearing that up.

    As an amsuement park professional,

    Am “amusement park professional,” is it?  Hmm, perhaps a “professional” who works for King Richard’s Faire?  Nah, that would just be too stupid for words.

    $24 is one of the lowest gate prices for Adults in the WORLD, people. Again, you have choices here: if that price of entertainment is not within your means – or you simply do not wish to pay that much for a renn faire – then simply don’t go and quit your bitchin.

    Regards,
    BP

    Reply
  36. Brian P

    The article here is filled with falsified information, possibly to fuel the writers stance? For example, stating that the “outrageous gate admission price of $24 adults is more than Six Flags or Di$ney park” is REDICULOUS!!! Disney is double the amount for KRF — $48 for adults (and soon to be $50). Six Flags, ANY of the SF parks, is not far begind the Disney price.

    Additionally, bringing up that KRF is not ADA compliant is also rediculous. As someone with dietary restrictions as well (Celiac/Sprue Disease), it’s way more important that I stick to a regimented diet than a Kosher Jew (rationale being that if someone of the Hebrew faith eats something that’s not Kosher, it’s not life threatening as it is in my instance!).

    It’s real simple, people. Eat before you go to the Faire, or don’t go to the Faire at all. You have options here, yet you make it out like you don’t have any options at all and are being strong armed by the park owners.

    Suggestion: Lose the “Victim” attitude.

    Fact: I’ve been to every amuement and themed park on the North American continent. I can tell you that only a very small handful of traditional (old-fashioned) amusement parks still allow attendees to bring food/drink into the park with them. These are typically also those parks that are non-gated and do not feature an admission price onto the park grounds. Not even in Canada or Mexico are patrons allowed to bring food or drink items into the park with them.

    The author goes on to recommend the CT renaissance Faire as a “cheaper alternative – $15 versus $24,” but failed to note that the CRF doesn’t allow people to bring food or drink into the park, either?

    I’m sorry. When all is said and done, this soapbox does nothing but fuel the generalization that Jews are cheap/niggardly. As an amsuement park professional, $24 is one of the lowest gate prices for Adults in the WORLD, people. Again, you have choices here: if that price of entertainment is not within your means – or you simply do not wish to pay that much for a renn faire – then simply don’t go and quit your bitchin.

    Regards,
    BP

    Reply
  37. jik Post author

    Here’s a recent email conversation I had which is worth posting.

    I received this message:

    I was asked to leave the Kosher Dunkin Donuts in Brookline because I brought in my own milk and muffin (have a very strict diet due to severe allergy and diabetes) how is this fair? I’m not allowed to eat breakfast with ny husband and children due to the rules against bringing food in from the outside, sounds pretty much like the same discriminatory situation you face with KRF. No?

    I responded:

    Ms. [name deleted],

    Thanks for your email. The question you ask is a serious one. It made me think and to question some of my assumptions. These are good things to do, and I therefore appreciate that you wrote to me.

    I am sincerely sorry for what you experienced. Having myself been denied equal access to a public accommodation due to my dietary restrictions, I am obviously extremely sensitive to how that can make a person feel, and I’m sorry that you had to experience it.

    Unfortunately, you were caught in a situation where what would benefit one person would harm many others. Because of how kosher rules work, a kosher establishment cannot allow non-kosher food to be brought in; doing so would compromise its kosher status (I assume you don’t really want to know the details of why this is so, but if you’re interested, please let me know and I can elaborate). In other words, a kosher restaurant which allows non-kosher food to be brought in actually isn’t kosher. Therfore, if you start with, “Kosher restaurants shouldn’t be allowed to prohibit outside food,” what you end up with is, “There can’t be any kosher restaurants,” and that would bring irreparable harm to the many people who keep kosher and can thus only eat at restaurants that are kosher.

    There are eleven other Dunkin Donuts locations within two miles of the one you were asked to leave. There are fifteen donut shops, bagel shops and coffee houses of all sorts within a mile of where you were, including a Starbucks less than a tenth of a mile away on the same side of the street. I certainly wouldn’t presume to ask you to be happy about being asked to leave (I certainly wouldn’t be!), but I would ask you to consider the impact of asking you and your family to go somewhere else nearby vs. the impact of telling all the kosher-keeping families who buy food from there on a regular basis that they can no longer do so.

    (An aside: I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but if not, then it might be good for you to know, since you have specific dietary restrictions… Starbucks is famous for being extremely tolerant of what people do in their locations. You can bring your own food there and eat it without buying buying anything from them, and it’s extremely unlikely that they’ll tell you no; certainly they won’t if you’re with other people who do buy something.)

    There are a number of substantive differences between what happened to you and what happened to me at King Richard’s Faire, but what I’ve written above brings out the two most significant ones:

    • While it would have been trivial for KRF to make a “reasonable accommodation” to my dietary restrictions which would have impacted no one else at the Faire, it would have been nearly impossible for Dunkin Donuts to make any sort of accommodation to yours without adversely impacting a large number of other customers.
    • There was no other place I could go to experience accommodations equivalent to what my family had hoped to experience at KRF, whereas there were a number of other equivalent locations within a short distance of where you were.

    I hope that you’ve found my response informative. As I said above, you asked me a serious question, and I appreciate it. In fact, what you asked is so interesting that I would like to post it in the comments section of my blog, along with my response. May I have your permission to do that? I will remove your name and email address from your message before posting it, if you wish.

    Take care,

    Jonathan Kamens

    She responded:

    Jonathan,

    Thank you very much for your thoughtful, informative reply. Yes, I now agree, my food would effect everyone else in the establishment – where as yours at KRF really didn’t effect anyone. I guess I felt a bit hurt because I consider that to be my “local” Dunkin Donuts, it is in my direct neighborhood and I have enjoyed going there with my children to have breakfast on Sundays after our morning walk for some time now. Although I know there are DD’s everywhere in the Boston area 😉 I don’t believe the Starbucks has bagels & cream cheese, though I’ll be checking it out as an alternative.

    Again, thank you for your great reply. Although I’m not completely at ease with my new dilema, I am certainly respectful of your reasoning. And, certainly, you may use our conversation for your blog. ( I would be appreciative of you anonymizing it.)

    Best,

    [name deleted]

    Reply
  38. jik Post author

    It appears that Bonnie Shapiro learned at least one thing from my complaining last summer… The KRF Web site now says “No outside food or beverages allowed” at the bottom of its home page and “General Info” page.

    That’s not exactly the policy I would have chosen (duh!) but at least now she’s being up-front about it.

    Reply
  39. jik Post author

    I received this message today from someone who works at KRF:

    I realize that this is a nearly one year old subject and you may have put it behind you by now, but I did want to take a moment to drop you a line with my sympathies and encouragement.

    I too am a current performer at King Richard’s Faire for this coming 2006 season and have been since [deleted]. I suppose it might seem a little funny for someone still contracted under Ms. Shapiro’s employ to contact you in this manner, but I suppose anyone can still love their part-time job and despise their boss. In the span of years I have worked for this faire, I have been made utterly livid not only by the many injustices brought upon Ms. Shapiro’s cast and vendors, but to the patrons whose money buys her a shiny new gas-guzzling SUV every year. I had heard rumors about your plight last year, but had never actually found your article on the matter until today.

    I know my apologies may not matter much as to what happened to you was well outside of my jurisdiction as an actor, but I feel the need to apologize anyway for what happened to you and your family. The greed of Ms. Shapiro has long been a plight destroying the magic and fun of what could otherwise be a great fall entertainment venue in Massachusetts.

    I won’t deny that there’s a small part of me (and it gets smaller by the year, I fear) that wants to jump up to defend this little Renaissance Faire that I have poured my sweat, tears, and blood on occasion into, but even that bleeding-heart “rennie” in me cannot stomach the thought of saying an unkind word to you and your family at this gross example of Ms. Shapiro’s miserly ways. The woman is a crook, plain and simple, and I am so sorry you had to suffer such foolishness.

    Humbly and apologetically,
    [deleted]

    Reply
  40. jik Post author

    I received this email today from someone who wishes to remain anonymous:

    ***

    Hi Mr. Kamens,

    My name is [elided] and I’m a participant in King Richard’s Faire. I stumbled across your page in a search for some recent articles published about the faire and felt moved to comment…. The fellow… just inside the gate, related your story to a part of cast who happened to be on lunch break at the time. We were all sickened to hear of this treatment…. Just for kicks, some of us began dissecting the menu and trying to figure out if there is even anything available fitting your dietary requirements, and the list we were able to come up with was pitifully small.

    With regard to your confusion about people needing special foods for medical reasons, they are SUPPOSED to be allowed to bring their food inside. Some of the gate people get that wrong. I agree with you that the reason given to you as to why you weren’t allowed to bring your food inside was pathetic, but what I will say is that there was a tiny bit of truth in the letter of reply submitted by Mrs. Shapiro, and that was the part about the money. That’s really what it comes down to.

    As a participant, I see no reason to defend the practices in place at the faire. The apprentices are unpaid, the vendors have to pay ridiculous prices to keep a booth onsite (another source of cash in the Shapiros’ pockets) and frequently struggle to pay their booth-workers. On top of that, most of the performers only make what they receive from passing the hat or selling their merchandise and the only benefit they get is a performer’s pass that allows them to come onsite and perform at no charge.

    Again, I am sorry to have heard how you were treated at the faire.

    – Anonymous Participant

    Reply
  41. jik Post author

    A comment posted to the Usenet September 27. This is not the only person who’s told me that my “solution” to this problem should be to sneak food into the Faire. I hope I don’t have to explain why that’s not an acceptable solution….

    ***

    First off, yes they do not allow outside food to be brought in. Second, no they do not usually allow readmittance – unless for extreme circumstances. I have been let outside to grab a piece of garb that I forgot – so how’s that for extreme circumstances?? Third, a lot of the women carry baskets and such to look more period correct (rather than carrying a purse) and food can EASILY be brought in that way…we are always bringing in goodies for everyone. And yes it is privately owned

    and yes they are trying to squeeze every ounce of money out of you…but it’s a business, that’s what businesses do – make money (or strive to).

    Just my two pence from a KRF survivor.

    Reply
  42. jik Post author

    A Usenet comment from September 28:

    ***

    You know, there may be some health department policies Carver has to follow. Some of the policies faires have to follow with regard to liquor, and the major penalties imposed if they are violated, including (at least at MDRF, so I understand) no outside liquor brought in, are pretty stringent (and sometimes quite odd). I have never heard of any renfaire, as a matter of routine, allowing any outside food to be brought it and consumed by patrons (although I seem to remember the Maryland Faire allowing it every so often for special functions (invasions in particular). But, then again, I have never heard of this issue of Kosher/health food come up in relation to renaissance faires either.

    AFAIK, Carver (the town) did not have any such policies when i worked at KRF (& brought my own food). i would find it extremely odd for a town to pass laws that basicly make it harder for a restaurant in a tourist town to get business, since Carver *is* a tourist town… besides, you can take food (snacks at least) into Edeville RR.

    and, while i do buy some food at Sterling, i also bring my own food & water, as do both my SILs & several other regular playtrons. i have a 5 year old. he isn’t a picky eater, but he doesn’t eat much of the faire foods. i generally have crackers, cheese, carrots, celery & tomatoes in my basket. none of this stuff is hidden. i know they see it at the gates, but it’s never been a problem. other than KRF, i’d never even thought about any faire having a problem with that sort of thing.

    the food issue was one of the reasons i stopped working KRF. the stupid gate policy was the final straw in my ever attending it again. i mean, come on, who really wants to lug enough diapers (i used cloth) for a baby for an entire day? it’s easier to duck back out to the car to replace the one you just changed, or change the baby at the car… i see it as discrimination against parents, as well as those with dietary concerns.

    Reply
  43. jik Post author

    A comment posted to the Usenet September 28:

    ***

    > This is not religious discrimination, actually.

    Well, actually it probably is. The faire is a public accommodation, and to the extent they offer food to patrons that is unacceptable on religious grounds, they should accommodate those patrons in appropriate ways, either by providing passouts or allowing acceptable foods to be brought into the faire.

    In the case of people with disabilities, diabetes is a disability covered under the Americans with Disabilities Act. The faire is legally bound to offer appropriate accommodation. On the other hand, as a diabetic, I don’t think I’ve ever been to a renfaire where I couldn’t find food to meet my dietary needs.

    As for CTRF, we’re vending at this faire now, and the food on site is quite varied and tasty. And I’m *not* just saying that because the principal food vendor gave me a free breakfast last Sunday morning. :->

    For the record, we’ve had a good time here at CTRF. Friendly folk, attentive management, decent crowds, hot showers for resident vendors and other pleasantries.

    Reply
  44. jik Post author

    A comment posted to the Usenet on October 1:

    ***

    > King Richard’s Faire, in Carver, Massachusetts, has a policy
    > prohibiting outside food from being brought into the Faire.

    I have been to a LOT of faires over the past 38 years, and have never been to one that did not permit you to bring in your own food or non-alcoholic beverages. (Alcohol is a different story altogether, and is always strictly governed by state law.) Obviously I have not been to King Richard’s.

    I would be astounded if there was a state or local law requiring this restriction as it is much more common to have laws protecting the rights of individuals to bring food into different venues. In some places you can bring food or drink into restaurants! (But must make a purchase there in order to be seated.)

    Added to the no re-entry policy, this makes King Richard’s Faire the most restrictive in the country in my view.

    It might be interesting to look into whether the City, Country or State might have a law protecting the right of individuals to take food with them into various venues.

    Reply
  45. jik Post author

    An interesting message about this posted to the Usenet on October 7:

    ***

    > saying you can’t bring in X but we have plenty of Y is not bait and
    > switch. its a standard, and LEGAL, business practice that every
    > business is entitled to do.

    If it is said up front they are perfectly entitled to it.

    For example, if the Tweeter Center told you when you bought tickets on the grass, “you can’t bring your own lawn chairs but we rent them at $X each” then I would have no problem. It’s when they add stipulations on arrival that I have a problem with it. And I don’t think they’re entitled.

    Had I not naively believed that they really were concerned about liability I would have gone ahead in with my own lawn chairs. From what I understand about contract law, when I buy a ticket to an event that’s when the contract is made. The venue has no more right to add additional stipulations after the fact than I do. They can no more say “you can’t use your own lawn chairs” than I can say “You have to provide nice lawn chairs for free” after the purchase is done.

    The contract makes the rules. The venue can have reasonable rules for safety, sanitation and copyright reasons, but they aren’t entitled to say “Sorry, you can’t wear your own clothes in. You can walk in naked, or we’ll sell you a jump suit for $199.95”

    This may be changing if more and more people have a “reasonable expectation” that venues can pull whatever crap they want on you when you arrive. Anything might then become an implicit part of the contract.

    This isn’t about lawn chairs or kosher food. This is about people letting themselves be pushed around by big organizations just because they think the big guys can make any rule they want. My fear is that when everyone expects to be pushed around, then the legal entitlement to push you around will actually be there.

    When you buy an airline ticket even over the phone they’re careful to make sure you know about stipulations, because people laying down hundreds of dollars are less likely to put up with nonsense. Events are costing more and more these days; people should expect the same forthrightness.

    > to which i say, so what? businesses do what businesses do and if you
    > don’t like it, leave and don’t go back.

    I haven’t gone back to KRF in the past 6 years mainly because it wasn’t entertaining enough. That may stem from the bad dynamic set up between the entertainers and the visitors. Someone who looks at the KRF web site will naturally think, “Ah, we pay $24 per adult plus $12 per child 5-12 and we get all the entertainment listed on this web page.” Then you get there and the entertainers have the job of telling you “We get no money except what you put in the hat.” A big part of what makes live entertainment good is the interaction between the performers and the crowd. The KRF surprise makes a large part of the crowd less receptive.

    I’d love to bring my family to a good renaissance fair, and would happily pay $72 for it (KRF’s ticket price), but I have no desire to go back to KRF.

    To businesses and their advocates who don’t like JIK raising a ruckus, I say, so what? Consumers will do what consumers will do and if you don’t like it, start being honest up front.

    Reply
  46. jik Post author

    A comment posted to the Usenet October 14 by an employee of the Faire:

    Actually I saw your family outside while you were having lunch, I was trying to get you permission from Ms. Shapiro to use the small stage or get another bench but by the time I was aware what was happening you were practically done with your meal and most of you had gone inside. I’m sorry if I caused offense in any way (I was playing the ratcatcher)

    The no-readmittance policy has been a sticking point since it was mandated several years back. There are usually a handful of exceptions made over the course of the day (medication and other emergenicies) but they are kept very quiet.

    Reply
  47. jik Post author

    Email I received from an employee of King Richard’s Faire on October 5:

    Hello,

    I am an employee at King Richard’s Faire, and I came across your article while searching for pictures. I am an actor there, one of the villagers to be exact, and I love working there. Did you know, however, that I am not payed? A lot of the villagers that come up to you and interact with you are not payed. “Our training during a month in the summer is considered our payment. The other acts are also payed pittance, relying on the tips that they “guilt the audience” into giving. Now, I’m not complaining (much, because I love acting so much, but the amount of money obtained through box office and food tickets and gaming should be able to compensate a small payment for our hard work.

    I had worked in box office two years ago before I became an apprentice, and I was threatened with being fired if I let anyone with outside food in. It tore my heart out as I told people they had to take their carefully prepared picnics back to their car. I couldn’t really blame them when they cursed me out, but it wasn’t really my fault. When a real medical reason did come up, however, or one such as your case, I did let it go by. I don’t know if in the past couple of years the owner has become tougher, forcing all but medical reasons to leave food in their cars. I disagree with it, but there is nothing that I can do. I would ask of you not to mention my name, for if anything got to the owner of any of my views, I’d be out, and that would break my heart. Faire is my life, and though there is much I disagree with, I love entertaining people, payment or not.

    Thanks for listening,

    [name deleted]

    Reply
  48. jik Post author

    (Replying to this comment.)

    I think it’s hard to say whether my letter published in the Advocate will have any appreciable effect on the Faire’s bottom line. My wife doesn’t think so, because she thinks very few kosher-keeping Jews go to renaissance faires (“There’s nothing frum about them”). I’m not convinced of that, since while my sister thinks it’s supremely funny that I waste my time on things like this, she also acknowledged that many of her observant friends have gone to the Faire and ran into the same problem we did.

    Convincing the Faire to change their policy isn’t the only point of protesting it. The other point of protesting it is to warn other people so that they won’t have the same negative experience I did. The Faire doesn’t bother to publicize their no-outside-food policy, I believe intentionally. I’m trying to get the word out so that people who keep kosher will be able to make an educated decision about whether they’re willing to go if they can’t bring in food.

    Reply
  49. Lisa

    We had the identical problem, complete with prices, attitudes, and bright, hot sun, at Bonfonte Gardens, near Santa Cruz, CA. We turned around and left. But then, Tova was young enough at the time that she wasn’t half as disappointed as we were.

    Reply

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