2019 was the first year that Ren Fair After Dark in Des Moines, Iowa moved to the middle of summer – being in July. The previous years had been held their festival earlier in the year, which suffered from being wet and cold. The 2019 festival suffered from being too hot (upwards of 100 degrees) and having a big storm on Saturday – which did help the heat some, but unfortunately took down some trees and tents.
This festival was started and targeted as a Renaissance Festival that was aimed for 21+ with events such as pub crawls, drinking tickets, and camping. Billed as the most RAD, risque, and rowdy party in the Midwest I had some high hopes for an awesome 21+ Renaissance Festival event. Unfortunately, they changed the venue from a Renaissance Festival to a Ren-Friendly festival right before the event (after I had bought tickets).
While I understand that the heat was not the Fair’s fault, it was hot (and I don’t think I can emphasize that enough). The camping availability was very open field – especially the premium camping that had electric with no shade (not amazing in heat). Luckily, there was a “quiet” side and a “up all night” side, so that allows campers to pick their side based on the campers preference. As long as you didn’t want premium camping, camping was a very reasonable $10/person. The quiet side set up in a small grove of trees – which was slightly better.
I was also a disappointed in the fact that there was rock music playing on Friday night – it was loud and I had trouble hearing over it (even when I wasn’t at the concert). Considering I was thinking I was going to a Renaissance Festival I expected a completely different kind of music than 80’s big hair band music.
I also wished that there were a few more vendors. There were definitely some amazing vendors like MacCamie Studios, Rathburn’s Den of Antiquity, and King’s Carvings, but overall the prices were high and there weren’t enough vendors or entertainers for a 2 day festival. The price for everything – $50 to get in, was a bit over priced for what I got, I felt. It did include drink tickets – but with the heat, I wasn’t feeling up to that.
Overall, I don’t believe that I will be back. The Festival was not enough entertainment for a weekend that centered around the Renaissance or entertainment either. The change in theme from Renaissance Festival to Ren-Fair friendly meant that what I expected was not what I experienced.