Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010 | 2:05 a.m.
Map of Sunset Park
2601 E Sunset Road, Las Vegas
“Present your weapons,” a quartet of merry men and women announced as visitors approached the entrance to Sunset Park. After a few curious looks, the greeters, dressed in ruffled garments, gave a nod as the guests showed a water bottle and let them through.
Welcome to the 17th annual Las Vegas Renaissance Festival, which transforms the park from a collection of playgrounds and picnic tables into a medieval kingdom replete with traveling minstrels, court jesters and some well-mannered pirates.
The fair, sponsored by Clark County Parks and Recreation and local businesses, opened on Friday and runs through Sunday.
Friday afternoon, tents populated the green area, along with a pirate ship and a “field of honor.” Sunset Park is now divided into various kingdoms such as the Adrian Empire, the Kingdom of Coreathea and the Seraphine Isles.
Dan Ely stopped with his son John, 10, and his daughter Erin, 8, as they learned how to shoot a longbow.
“Pretend you’re breaking daddy’s nose,” instructor Julie Johnson said as Erin pulled the bow back for the first time. With a couple of practice shots, John easily slayed the “dragon” on the targets made of hay bales.
Ely said it was the family’s first trip to the Renaissance Fair. So far, it’s been “really enjoyable,” he said.
The fair’s charm comes from the enthusiasm of its actors, said Johnson, who has attended the festival since its first year.
“We work hard to keep it pure,” she said. “We’re the ones who are nuts enough to be absolutely in love with the fair. It gives us a break from reality.”
At the Gladius Coliseum, Sir Tom Griffin led a very young band of “Soldiers of the Realm” in a duel against the evil Monte Spector, a duke. As they were on the verge of vanquishing the duke, Griffin asked his young companions if they should show him mercy. They sheathed their swords and spared him.
“It’s like Sesame Street with swords,” Griffin told the crowd, which erupted with laughter.
Elsewhere, a man who would only identify himself as the Crimson Dragon, his face covered with a black mask, stood by his collection of medieval torture machines and offered patrons an opportunity to be drawn and quartered or locked in the stockade.
There were few takers on Friday afternoon, but some stopped to have their pictures taken. The Dragon didn’t seem to mind, saying he enjoyed the fair because of the personalities and noted the belly dancers, peasant weavers and merchants.
Costumed parents pushed their kids through the park, passing such sights as The Boar’s Head Feast, which will set a stage for a dinner theater each night, and an almost life-sized pirate ship.
Steve Goodwin watched with his daughter Grace, 8, and son Grant, 8, as a knight’s page practiced his axe throwing.
The Renaissance Fair offers a chance to integrate fun with some education, Goodwin said, which is what inspired him to bring his family.
“It’s nice when you talk to the people, and they show you the different weapons and customs,” he said.
Grace’s favorite part so far?
“When we learned how to shoot a flaming arrow,” she said, shyly. Grant agreed.
The fair is open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. One-day passes are $10 for adults, $5 for kids 5-12 and seniors, and free for children under 5.