Costumes, Carnival, Coronavirus — Everything You Need to Know About Renn Fayre

This year’s czars have big plans for Renn Fayre 2020: Sub●Marine — but the event could be cancelled due to coronavirus concerns

Reedies are beginning to gear up for three days of nonstop fun under the sea, with Renn Fayre 2020: Sub●Marine set to kick off May 1st — but a school closure could put those plans to rest. The Quest sat down with three of the four Renn Fayre czars — Sebastian Bishop, Izzy Hoff, and Sophie Klingborg — to discuss their plans for Renn Fayre 2020, the changes they have in the works, and how they’re preparing for a potential coronavirus shut-down.

The most pressing question on everyone’s mind this week is whether or not Renn Fayre will even happen this year. Bishop put it in no uncertain words: “If school as a whole is cancelled, then Renn Fayre is cancelled.” While the situation seems to be rapidly deteriorating at the moment, there is still a long time between now and Renn Fayre. “We’ll have to see how coronavirus stuff plays out over this couple months,” Bishop said. Until then, “we’re not going to half-ass anything,” Bishop emphasized. As long as Renn Fayre remains a possibility, the czars will be working on the assumption that the event is still on.

Courtesy of the Renn Fayre Czars

Courtesy of the Renn Fayre Czars

Earlier in the year, the czars deliberated on a variety of theme ideas, but ultimately they decided that an aquatic theme would help spark creativity and make for an exciting weekend. “It felt like an aquatic theme, or just a nature theme in general, was kind of long overdue,” Bishop explained. The czars wanted to capture the excitement generated from previous nature themes like Wildwood, without reusing the same ideas as previous czars. 

Hoff emphasized the importance of providing a theme that has room for creativity, especially when it comes to outfits. “We really did think about… what are people going to be able to dress up for? Is there enough variety in this theme for there to be cool costumes and projects to come out of that?”

The czars are planning on applying some of the lessons they learned from Spring/Fall 2019: Neon Nights. The first? No more squirting rubbing alcohol onto the thesis bonfire. Last December, while fueling the bonfire with rubbing alcohol, Bishop momentarily caught on fire when some of the spray blew back into his hair and face. “Yeah, I almost failed chemistry in high school, which is probably why I made that mistake,” he jokingly explained. To avoid any mishaps this time around, the czars are planning on adding accelerants before the fire gets started, and adding in isopropanol-soaked paper rather than spraying the substance directly into the flames.

The czars have also learned some lessons from previous czars. In previous Renn Fayres, security was run by a “boundary patrol,” in which students would walk around campus requesting to see people’s wristbands and asking those without wristbands to leave. This raised several concerns over racial profiling, however, as students were given discretion as to which people they requested wristbands from. Last year’s Renn Fayre czars replaced this system with “Checkmates,” whereby students would sign up to sit outside of important buildings on-campus and check the wristbands of every person who entered the building. “We’re going to try to… stick to the ideas that [last year’s czars] had, but try to better implement [them],” Hoff explained. “Because it’s all volunteer run, it’s really hard to rely on people who might not show up… who might not be well-trained and stuff. We’re going to try and just have a couple more trainings for that.”

However, the czars are also making some changes of their own, the most dramatic of which being the removal of the Saturday night fireworks show. “It’s kind of been in the works for a couple of years,” Hoff said. The chief reason for this has been accessibility, as the loud noises and bright lights can pose a problem for the students who live in Naito and Sullivan, right next to where the fireworks are set off. Now, with Trillium completed and occupied, even more students would be adjacent to the late-night show.

But the fireworks aren’t just being removed: “We’re replacing the fireworks with a carnival,” Hoff explained. “We really hope that that comes through, and that… people show up to volunteer at the booths… and hand out prizes. I hope that people will get really into it. I think it has a lot of potential to be a really cool event.”

If everything goes to plan, the czars hope that this year’s Renn Fayre will be sunny, full of hidden gems, and a great way for students to break out of their bubbles and talk with other Reedies they wouldn’t usually see. “The magic of Renn Fayre, for me, was [always] that you could walk across the whole campus and find little pockets of what people had done,” Klingborg said. “Everybody’s in this state of happiness.”

Above all else, the czars want everyone to stay safe and have fun. “It’s important to have a good time during Renn Fayre, but it’s also important to take care of yourself,” Klingborg explained. “Remember to hydrate and nourish yourself… your health is important and it’s important to not go too far overboard. That’s something that goes regardless of coronavirus.”

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