Ren Fair ring leader backs out
May 16, 2003
The man who started the Valhalla Renaissance Faire 10 years ago announced on Thursday that he would not be part of this year’s production — if it even happens.
“I have a full-time job in Sonoma County and to go through what it would take to pull this out of the fire, I’d have to move up there and rent a hotel room for the next three weeks,” said Steve Bailey, a marketing manager at Kunde Estate Winery. “I just can’t do that.”
His partner, South Lake Tahoe resident Kelly Carlson, said she will continue to work to produce the event. Carlson said she plans to attend a public hearing Thursday morning in Placerville. After the hearing, the El Dorado County Planning Commission will decided whether or not to permit the fair at the Tahoe Pines Campground in Meyers.
“I’m in and I still have my crew and we’re ready to go,” Carlson said. “The only issue is where does the city want us? I’ve got 80 vendors and 13 guilds waiting for this community to make up their minds.”
As positive as Carlson is about the fair, she admitted she cannot afford the $27,000 the California Highway Patrol says it needs to cover the cost of traffic enforcement if the event is in Meyers.
“I’ve already spent a lot of money, but I’m not going to say how much,” Carlson said. “Just give me a piece of dirt and a parking lot. I want to have it wherever it should be.”
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A staff report to be presented at Thursday’s hearing neither recommends nor rejects the issuing of a permit for the fair. If a permit is approved, the Governing Board of the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency will discuss the matter May 28. Carlson also needs a permit from the TRPA to produce the event.
Bailey said if the Renaissance Faire does not happen this year he would consider bringing it back to Camp Richardson Resort for two weekends in early June.
The fair has always been at the campground, but after last summer’s faire Bailey decided to expand it from two weekends to three, which Camp Rich could not accommodate.
“That’s getting into our busy season,” said Bob Hassett, owner of Camp Richardson Resort. “This event ever since it started was supposed to be for the shoulder season. Once it starts getting into the middle of June, our main season, that can’t happen.”
Bailey said the fact that Camp Rich decided to charge them rent, $22,000, last year for the first time, instead being a partner in the event, did not influence his decision to try to extend the event to three weekends.
“It was more wanting to add a third weekend because of efficiency,” Bailey said. “And frankly because the vendors were pushing for it. We saw the success of the fair and wanted more of a good thing.”
The Tahoe Tallac Association, a nonprofit group that produces the Valhalla Arts and Music Festival each summer, has in previous years been a sponsor of the Renaissance Faire. Bailey’s decision not to be a part of the fair means the agreement the association made with Bailey to provide marketing and volunteers to work the event at Meyers no longer exists, said Alice Kane, director of cultural events at the Tahoe Tallac Association.
Suzanne Lindstrom, manager of facilities for the Tahoe Tallac Association, said the association withdrew its sponsorship of the fair for this year because they didn’t want to overburden Kane, who started as director in February.
“Carol was the mainstay behind the event,” Lindstrom said. “We felt it wasn’t fair for a new director to take on such a large event.”
Carol Spain retired as cultural director for the Tahoe Tallac Association in September.
The Tahoe Tallac Association, Camp Rich and the U.S. Forest Service, which owns the land Camp Rich uses, said having the fair for two weekends at Camp Rich next summer is a possibility.
— Gregory Crofton can be reached at (530) 542-8045 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org