Prithee Go Not to the Abandoned Virginia Renaissance Faire

It’s a stretch to imagine that this country village was once animated with knights, maidens, minstrels and jesters. The music of penny whistles and steinfulls of ale made day and night merry. Now, fifteen years later, a ghost town is all that testifies to a short-lived effort to recreate Renaissance England in the Old Dominion.

There’s been a lot written about Virginia’s abandoned Renaissance Faire (on the DCist and Lucent Moments blogs, for instance). The venture was an investment gone bad, an Elizabethan town built in the mid-1990s on a less-than-ideal site. This Renaissance Faire became mired in muck and debt after a few spells of nasty weather and went belly-up.

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But all the lasses and lads who pine for that bygone era when chivalry ruled the day are still in luck. The Virginia Renaissance Faire simply packed up and moved 25 miles southwest to the Lake Anna Winery.

Of course, the buildings stayed in Merrie Olde, er, Fredericksburg, and now all that Elizabethan architecture lies rotting in the woods–thatched roofs, half-timbered facades and overhanging stories; dormers, turrets, masonry. An especially odd twist is all the modern hardware that once hid behind-the-scenes in this recreated town, indicating that fair-goers didn’t forsake all the twentieth century creature comforts: ye olde springe matresse, refrigeratour, fyre hydrante.

The site is poised for another radical transformation. It’s for sale and being advertised as suitable for heavy industry. Although it has been on the market for some time, the tendrils of suburban Fredericksburg’s development creep closer by the year, improving the old parcel’s prospects.

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Don’t even think of visiting the abandoned Renaissance Faire; you could be ticketed (trespassing is illegal) or shot (no, really, the property is leased to hunters). Your best bet is to visit it vicariously through the photos here or at any of the other places online people have posted images. There’s even a pretty cool aerial tour video of the site Joseph Mitchell took with a drone. That way you can enjoy this odd attraction without the threat of the sheriff burning you at the stake.

“To hear the tales told at night-time hearths you would think we had made a whole new country in Britain, named it Camelot and peopled it with shining heroes, but the truth is that we simply ruled Dumnonia as best we could, we ruled it justly and we never called it Camelot. Camelot exists only in the poets’ dreams, while in our Dumnonia, even in those good years, the harvests still failed, the plagues still ravaged us and wars were still fought.” -Bernard Cornwell, Enemy of God

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About Ben Swenson

Ben lives in Williamsburg, Virginia. He is writing a book on places of historic value that have been forgotten and are being reclaimed by nature. Abandoned Country is a companion blog to that project. You can contact him at benswenson@cox.net
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26 Responses to Prithee Go Not to the Abandoned Virginia Renaissance Faire

  1. Pingback: Drone Video: Take A Ride Over An Abandoned Renaissance Fair | CODE 20 Blog

  2. Sheri says:

    I’m so sorry to see such a waste. I would love to have see it in all it’s glory, here in California we have ren faires but they are not as nice as this one you once had .. so sorry for the lost that VA has and they don’t know it…. :{

  3. Brian says:

    Does anyone know who ownes the property? I would love to figure out who needs to be contacted in order to get permission to go onto the property. Thanks.

  4. Ryan McLaughlin says:

    I would like to know if this property is for sale, or if the owner would like to consider an investment to refurbish this land. I am looking to invest in a renaissance faire that is worth my time and money. This seems almost to perfect to let go to waste. Please if someone can get back to me with contact information it would be greatly appreciated.

    • Mar says:

      It is for sale for $3.5 million. The person that had it before only paid a little over a mil for it from what I have researched so i guess it is owned by the mortgage comp. who thinks its worth 3.5. Its like 162 acres something like that. Check on realtor.com its on Kings Hwy. Fredericksburg, Va. It went to bankruptcy and is being leased by a hunting club so do not enter it!! It is very sad cause you see how much money went into it to have only been open for 3 years 1996-1999. Upwards of 5 mil. for land and buildings invested and its just rotting away.

      • Mar says:

        The land was once owned by George Washington’s mother. Thought i would add that cause it is interesting. Also, the company that ran it has other ones still REC they still do one in NY and 2 others. From what I have researched it didn’t do well because of bad weather, bad ticket sales, tech issues and soggy/marsh land. The buildings were built so idk how bad the land is. I saw the ariel view and the river isn’t that close but Im not a wet lands expert. If this was opened again i would so work at it since I live close to it now but didn’t back in the day. I hope someone does invest in it cause i think it would do well. They could be open more weekends like the Pen Ren is.

    • Chris Roberts says:

      Maybe a crowd funding campaign! Kick starter? Investors could be shareholders or own shops or something.

    • Steph Gliddon says:

      How about building one from scratch?
      I’ve been working on a business plan for some time that is similar in construct to a renaissance fair but has a few other markets and long term financial solutions.

      Please email steph0x@gmail.com if that interests you for more information

    • Polly says:

      Weichert in VA had the property for sale for the owner, but it has since been taken off, but if your interested let me know an I can give u the number

  5. Kesha Broce says:

    The property is listed for 3.5 million. So I just need 3,499,000 more people to go in as partners 🙂

  6. Ginny B says:

    Visited the location today! At first, I thought I wouldn’t be able to enter because there was a police car parked in front of the gate. I talked to him and told him I simply wanted to take photos and wondered if entry was allowed. Since it is private property, the policeman (who was very friendly) said it was fine if I went on the property as long as I had permission from the hunting club that owns the space. The phone number was posted on the signs explaining that the property was private. I called and talked to the man (who I am assuming is the hunting club owner) and he basically said that it was at my own risk and that he had even gone to court over lawsuits involving the property. I believe he said, “It’s fine if you go, but if you get stopped (by policemen), then it’s on you.” I talked again to the police officer and gave him a recap of the conversation I had with the hunting club, and he said it was fine with him to enter. All in all, if you are able to LEGALLY go onto this property, I highly recommend it. Make sure to wear walking shoes because it’s quite a hike. Also, wear long sleeves or bug spray. Even though it’s early spring and still fairly cold, the bugs are pretty bad. Good luck!

    • Nina says:

      Do you by any chance have that number? I’d love to visit this site when I get back to Fredericksburg in August!

    • william lundy says:

      Hello. If you still have the number would you please email me at sherpa.wl@Gmail.com
      I would love to visit but would like to do it in the correct manner. I live in Tennessee or I would just drive up and wing it on the number.

    • Teresa says:

      I would love the number if you still have it.. I would like to see if the hunting club would grant an event. Than you so very much in advance, as I am in oklahoma. My email is fromtx2germany@aol.com.
      Teresa

    • Alex James McKenzie says:

      Hmm you definitely got lucky. I visited here on Saturday, and decided to take your word for it on winging it with the number. As soon as we arrived, pulled off the road on the dirt path that originally led straight to the faire. we began to see signs and called the number on the no trespassing sign for the hunting club. The owner answered and told me he was not able to give me permission to enter on, even after I tried selling him on the whole we drove 4 plus hours down/ i’m a photographer student blah blah bottom line, he didn’t care. After driving hours we decided to wing it.

      • Alex MACKMANNN says:

        Hmm you definitely got lucky. I visited here on Saturday, and decided to take your word for it on winging it with the number. As soon as we arrived, pulled off the road on the dirt path that originally led straight to the faire. we began to see signs and called the number on the no trespassing sign for the hunting club. The owner answered and told me he was not able to give me permission to enter on, even after I tried selling him on the whole we drove 4 plus hours down/ i’m a photographer student blah blah bottom line, he didn’t care. After driving hours we decided to wing it. This place is literally located on the side of a high way making it super awkward/ hard to find parking, so we had to get creative. We ended up parking on the side of the highway across from the road you walk down to enter the faire, and put a white plastic bag out our window (meaning we aren’t abandoning car, and so we didn’t look sketchy) ran across the highway and bolted into the woods. After being super careful for cops/ security we finally made it to the building’s. This place is HUGE!! Like huge as in we didn’t even have enough time to cover all the property/ buildings. We had no run ins with any hunters/ anyone at all, and didn’t even see tire tracks/ footprints anywhere on the dirt road that circles around the property once you enter on. All in all, this place is one of a kind and a must if you’re a serious urban explorer. Be careful, and be smart!!!

  7. Johan says:

    As someone with a bussiness at a number of renn faires, i can say this is all too common. Those booths were paid for by private individuals as a space to live and sell their wares, seperate from the festival ownership. The festival gambled with other peoples time and money and lost. Its honestly pretty violating that people think its cool to break in and take pictures and act as though theyve discovered something new. I know if it was one of my booths people were photographing and claiming they had “discovered”, i would make damn sure they understood that those buildings are copyrighted intillectual property

    • Spartacus says:

      Why such a harda55? All he wanted to do was take a picture. Are you just mad because you didn’t get your cut?

    • Dave says:

      “those buildings are copyrighted intillectual property.”

      Congratulations, you have made the stupidest comment ever made on the internet, no mean feat. The fact you couldn’t even spell intellectual correctly indicates all we need to know about your intellect. Go take that argument to the nearest court and see how hard the judge laughs in your face.Moron.

  8. Jeremy says:

    I went there last night. I will never go again with only 2 people late at night. Scariest place I’ve ever been as an urban explorer. Beware of ghosts.

  9. Pingback: Drone Video: Take A Ride Over An Abandoned Renaissance Fair • CODE 20

  10. Alex MACKMANNN says:

    Hmm you definitely got lucky. I visited here on Saturday, and decided to take your word for it on winging it with the number. As soon as we arrived, pulled off the road on the dirt path that originally led straight to the faire. we began to see signs and called the number on the no trespassing sign for the hunting club. The owner answered and told me he was not able to give me permission to enter on, even after I tried selling him on the whole we drove 4 plus hours down/ i’m a photographer student blah blah bottom line, he didn’t care. After driving hours we decided to wing it. This place is literally located on the side of a high way making it super awkward/ hard to find parking, so we had to get creative. We ended up parking on the side of the highway across from the road you walk down to enter the faire, and put a white plastic bag out our window (meaning we aren’t abandoning car, and so we didn’t look sketchy) ran across the highway and bolted into the woods. After being super careful for cops/ security we finally made it to the building’s. This place is HUGE!! Like huge as in we didn’t even have enough time to cover all the property/ buildings. We had no run ins with any hunters/ anyone at all, and didn’t even see tire tracks/ footprints anywhere on the dirt road that circles around the property once you enter on. All in all, this place is one of a kind and a must if you’re a serious urban explorer.

  11. Bill League says:

    Thank you for sharing. I am sorry it did not work here.

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