Chris Lawson / email@example.com Colorado Renaissance Festival owner Jim Paradise Sr. is looking forward to the event's 30th year, set to open …
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Chris Lawson / firstname.lastname@example.org
Colorado Renaissance Festival owner Jim Paradise Sr. is looking
forward to the event's 30th year, set to open June 10 in
By Kiersten J. Mayer
Going on 30 years of celebrating the medieval lifestyle, the
Colorado Renaissance Festival is making history.
Thoughts of moving the festival, which is celebrating its 30th
anniversary this summer, from Larkspur have receded into the
background after three years of litigation over water and sewer
The RenFest was originally a teardown show and spent its first
two years in Morrison. Then operators brought it to Castle Rock and
finally settled in Larkspur after the festival's site was properly
"I had all black hair when I started this thing," festival owner
Jim Paradise Sr. said.
Owners and organizers began attracting attorneys and
accountants. Over its history, the festival has transformed into
family-oriented entertainment, he said. When Renaissance festivals
enjoyed a nationwide renaissance several decades ago, few had a
craft show every weekend, so Larkspur's festival was unique. Thirty
years later there is more competition with craft shows and
festivals across Colorado. Everything sold at the RenFest is hand
made, which Paradise thinks is vital.
The first Colorado Renaissance Festival featured 60 artisan
booths; that number now is about 200. Artisans create and sell
pottery, leather, candles, drums, armor and more. Medieval
tradesmen such as blacksmiths, glassblowers and fortune tellers
also display their skills.
RenFest marketing director Jim Paradise Jr. spent his childhood
playing the games and being a part of festival life in Minnesota.
While he took time as an adult to play minor league hockey and had
a stint as general manager for a team in Florida, he decided six
years ago to join the family business.
"It's kind of a passion," he said. "I love being a part of it
because there are so many different aspects of it."
Three decades is a landmark for any business, especially one
that's open eight weekends a year, he said. The RenFest attracts
acts that could perform at Disney World or Las Vegas, but coming to
Larkspur is a unique experience.
In normal years, specific acts perform the whole season, but
this year different acts are featured on certain weekends. New
entertainment for year 30 includes Danny Lord of Mischief,
Stefano's Theater, The Polo Bros. and a magic and illusion
Festival favorites Puke & Snot, Cast in Bronze Carillon
bells and Ded Bob and his "dummy" Smudge will all return for eight
weekends this summer. From an entertainment standpoint, Paradise
Sr. said a lot of national acts began at the local venue.
"Penn and Teller started out here," he said. "A lot of acts have
ended up in New York on Broadway."
Over the years attendance at the festival has grown to about
"The success is very weather-related, of course, so we keep our
fingers crossed," Paradise Sr. said.
Overcoming the last three years of fighting in court with
Larkspur town officials is going slowly since Paradise Sr. and his
staff are focusing on getting the festival open and having a
successful year. He hopes to work with Larkspur's town council to
re-establish a working business relationship, but said they haven't
had any meaningful planning yet. Litigation is pending on appeals,
a lawsuit against former Larkspur engineer Jim Miller and a libel
lawsuit against former Mayor Myrna Been.
"When you think about the town and the litigation costing us
$600,000, that's difficult to forget about," Paradise Sr. said "You
don't sweep $600,000 under the rug."
On a brighter note, Paradise Sr. said he may throw a big party
when he gets the last attorney's bill and he anticipates progress
with Larkspur officials in the next few months.
"We're just happy to be around 30 years and are hoping to have a
great year," he said.
Improvements at one of Colorado's premier summer events will
make it an even more enjoyable experience. New paint, mist systems
and shaded areas are among improvements, along with fresh new
street characters, Paradise Jr. said.
"We're doing something right, obviously, to be around for 30
years," he said.
Contact Kiersten J. Mayer at email@example.com.
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