NHRF History

The New Hampshire Renaissance Faire

The NH Renaissance Faire is a family-friendly, educational, theatrical, and fantastical festival held every Spring in gorgeous, Fremont, NH. From historical armored combat reenactments & jousting to medieval handcrafting, NHRF brings together education and fun for the whole family. Our merchants are mainly local artisans with an emphasis on handmade items including costumes, jewelry, pottery, herbals, weaponry, and more. NHRF is brought to you by Three Maples Renaissance Corp. a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. Thanks to all our Patrons, Volunteers, Merchants, and Performers, we donate all our profits to charity. This year’s charities are the New Hampshire Food Bank, Rockingham County Meals on Wheels, and Granite State Performing Arts

History

The New Hampshire Renaissance Faire (NHRF) is a staple of the New England renaissance faire scene, with many rennies calling it their “home” faire. There are a variety of reasons NHRF is so beloved amongst the community of rennies and the general public: It’s welcoming and inclusive, lots of unique and interesting merchants and performers, it’s small enough people don’t feel overwhelmed, but large enough that a whole day could be spent there, and perhaps most importantly it’s a non-profit event that donates all its proceeds to charity. Whatever the reason, NHRF is a well-loved faire with many returning faces year after year. But NHRF was not always a large and well-known NH event. NHRF set its roots in 2005, by a woman with a vision and a big dream.

Shannon McCracken-Barber from Farmington, NH loved renaissance faires. She attended other events in the area but felt a void in NH. Shannon felt since there were no faires in NH, there was an opportunity to create something unique and local. Eventually, Shannon came across the Three Maples Arts & Nature Camp in Kingston, NH. The camp was located on private land owned by Bob and Marghi Bean. After talking with Shannon about renting out the grounds, Marghi commented, “I use porta-potties for the camp, there are no facilities for a faire.” “That’s okay” Shannon replied, “they didn’t have facilities in the 1500s either.” After a good laugh, Shannon and the Beans began the foundation for what would become the first New Hampshire Renaissance Faire.

The first NHRF was held in 2005 on the last weekend in October. It was put together in six weeks, there were only a small group of tents with merchants and a handful of performances and entertainment. The weather was horrible and the attendance was about 300 people, but all things considered, it was a success overall. Over the first few years, NHRF was called the “hardy” faire because of the frequent awful (and unpredictable) weather that fairgoers endured at the end of October every year. Despite the adversity, the faire continued to grow. In 2009, NHRF moved to May (from one of the last faires of the year to the very first) and became a two-weekend event, which is when and how the faire is run today.

For the first six years, the faire was a privately held organization, owned and operated by Shannon McCracken-Barber. Though the faire was not a non-profit, Shannon donated proceeds to local NH charities. In 2011, Shannon decided she no longer wished to run the event for a variety of personal reasons. Bob and Marghi had fallen in love with the faire, and because they had been so involved with the event over the years, they took action to save and preserve it. Bob and Marghi gathered eight other rennies from a variety of faire-related backgrounds and formed an initial Board of Directors. Together they created a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation formally named Three Maples Renaissance Corp (3MRC), and purchased the faire from Shannon. 

From the solid foundation built by Shannon, 3MRC hit the ground running. There were about 2,200 people who came to NHRF in 2013. In 2016, NHRF had over 8,400 patrons. With such a spike in attendance, 3MRC began the search for a larger venue to accommodate the exponential growth. In 2018, NHRF was held for the first time since its inception at a new home: Brookvale Pines Farm in neighboring Fremont, NH. After two years off from in-person faires, NHRF returned in 2022 with great fanfare and success. 

NHRF is built on the foundation of supporting each other, creating a place where anyone and everyone can come together and share an experience, helping each other by lending a hand or sharing a smile. NHRF believes strongly in giving back: to the communities we live in and to the communities that support us. That is why since its inception in 2005, NHRF has donated over a quarter million dollars to local NH charities; carefully chosen charities serving those most in need. NHRF could not do this without the love and support of all those involved. Thank you sincerely for being a part of the adventure and our story.