DANVILLE — Ellsworth Park will be transformed into 15th century England next weekend as the Illinois Renaissance Festival returns to Danville for the seventh year.
The annual festival, which is hosted this year by City of Danville, R.T. Barger & Co. and the Prairie Players Theatre Academy, will run 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, with a special military salute at 11 a.m. Saturday only.
Admission is $6, and free for children age 5 and younger and for active duty military and retired military personnel and veterans with a military ID. All children 15 and younger must be accompanied by a paying adult or guardian.
Part of the proceeds from this year’s festival will be donated to C.A.R.A. No-Kill Shelter in Tilton and local Boy Scouts.
Festival director JoMarie Dugan, who started the festival in 2003 in Champaign, said more than 2,500 visitors attended last year’s event in Danville.
“This year we anticipate more than 3,000 visitors,” she said.
“We’ve had nothing but fantastic support from Danville,” she added. “We’re happy with Ellsworth Park.”
Jeanie Cooke, executive director of the Danville Area Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, said the Renaissance Festival “has a fairly big regional draw.”
She also said many of the festival participants travel from a distance so they have to stay overnight in local hotels, giving area businesses an economic boost.
“One thing I like about the event is it provides a positive addition to the community,” Cooke added.
Visitors to the two-day festival will step back in time and enjoy the pageantry of Lancastershire Field in the 1491 as King Henry VII celebrates the sixth anniversary of his victory over King Richard III, ending the War of the Roses.
“It’s a historic reenactment,” Dugan said. “It’s definitely a family atmosphere.”
New this year at the festival is the Gryphon Poursuivant Siege Encampment, an interactive living history museum; the Royal Chessman, a living chess game with audience participation; Dragon’s Cove for kids of all ages with a puppet show, magic shop and balloon animals; Dimitri the Mage, magic tricks, games and wand making; and the Blades of the House of Adair, sword-fighting demonstrations.