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A Whole New Concept: Organizers Prepare for Wild Mountain Fantasy Festival & Time Travelers Marketplace
ExploreClarion.com spoke to Janene Michael, the General Manager for Wild Mountain Fantasy Festival & Time Travelers Marketplace, regarding the event that begins on Saturday, October 19, at the Venango County Fairgrounds.
“This is a brand new event, and it’s even a new concept,” Michael said.
“My husband and I have participating in and performed at renaissance festivals for 30 years, and every time you go, you’re always going to see someone in a Klingon costume or dressed as a character from Star Wars. It’s the same when you go to conventions, as well, so we thought why not create an event with a place for everyone?!”
The concept of an event for everyone was the catalyst for the Michaels to create Wild Mountain Fantasy Festival, which includes the themes of Renaissance Fantasy, Comic Book & Science Fiction, Myths & Monsters, and Steampunk.
“We focused on wearing whatever costume you want. We just wanted to create something for everyone who is a fan of something to come out and enjoy themselves,” Michael said.
While the Wild Mountain Fantasy Festival is a new event, the Michaels aren’t new to event planning. They’ve produced a renaissance festival in the Scranton area in the past and have also worked as consultants and as staff for other events. Those experiences, along with their experiences attending a multitude of events, have helped them develop their own, unique festival.
“We’ve taken theatrical and entertainment aspects of a renaissance festival and added features from comic conventions. We know what we need as patrons, so it was just matter of lining things up and organizing everything.”
Michael noted that they have a group of locals working as their production team who have been very helpful in organizing the event.
“We started recruiting vendors in January. I think the biggest key is organization and being able to see the big picture.”
For the event itself, the key themes are all brought together through not only vendors offering a range of handmade arts and crafts and collectibles, but also through the wide variety of entertainment acts, which include comedians, musicians, a medieval joust, children’s shows, a live mermaid, virtual reality demonstrations, a number of panels on different topics, and daily costume contests.
Michael also said that the uncertain autumn weather shouldn’t be any detriment to the event.
“The stages, market, and food are all in out of the weather. If we get rain, people can still come and enjoy the event. The only thing outside is the joust. Everything else is indoors.”
One thing that definitely sets Wild Mountain Fantasy Festival apart from other events is the focus on costumes and cosplay, even to the point of offering a discount on entry fees for those who come in costume.
The cost for entry is $17.00 for adults, $12.00 for children 12 and under, and free for children under five; however, the festival offers a $5.00 discount on entry for anyone who comes in costume.
“That’s pretty big,” Michael noted.
“That was something that we came up with ourselves. Most places don’t do that. We just thought it was something new and different and might get people interested enough to come out and see how much fun this could be.”
While the new family-friendly event is about sharing a love of all things fantasy, sci-fi, and related, for the organizers, it is also about something more.
“This is something really important to us in that we can help boost the local economy,” she said.
“We live here, and have lived in Seneca, in the Cranberry area, for ten years. We’ve seen the economic decline with industry and retailers leaving the area. This is a way we can give back by bringing in tourist money and using locals as much as we can to keep that money in the community.
“We love this area and think it’s beautiful, and more people should know about it.”
Wild Mountain Fantasy Festival & Time Travelers Marketplace will be held on October 19, 20, 26, and 27 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. daily at the Venango County Fairgrounds.
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