West Virginia Renaissance Festival Kicks Off

LEWISBURG, W.Va (WOAY) – The West Virginia Renaissance Festival kicked off its summer season in Lewisburg this weekend. Newswatch reporter Anna Saunders introduces us to the characters that bring this festival to life.

“The spectacle of everything here. It takes it off of your tiny little boxes at home, those little fuzzy screen things and brings it to life,” Tomas Drake, one of the traveling Renaissance characters, said. “And it’s never the same in person. It’s always better. Because you can actually hear it. You feel the electricity in the air as it happens. It’s a wonderful spectacle and I would never miss it.”

The West Virginia Renaissance Festival brings in people, fairies, knights and trolls from all across the country.

“It’s so romantic. It’s really a good feeling,” Taso Stavrakis, one of the co-owners of the festival, said. “You try to the do the old-style Renaissance fair. Everybody is like family. It’s just a really nice place to live.”

A Pittsburg native, Stavrakis has been jousting in Renassiance Festivals since 1979. He fell in love with the West Virginia scenery and saw it as a perfect place to start a festival of his own. It is just in its second year and features acts like jousting and the Wheel of Death. Those who attend the festival are encouraged to dress up like the medieval characters and scenery around them.

“The shows are great. The food. The people you meet. You can just kind of let your goof out, your nerd,” Tom Taylor, a visitor from Boone County, said.

While the festival brings in plenty of entertainment, the owners say it is also good for the state’s economy.

“We’re gonna try to bring in about 20,000 tourists who are going to come into Lewisburg and stay in hotels and eat at the restaurants and buy gas, so it should be some sort of economic development. That’s what we’re hoping.” Stavrakis said.

If you missed out on the opening weekend of the festival, it will be taking place during every weekend through the month of June.

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Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.