What is Renn Fayre, Anyway?

First Time Attendees' Perceptions of Renn Fayre

“A lot of weird shit,” a student commented, “happens at Renn Fayre.” It’s a phrase many first-years repeated when asked what they’d heard about Reed’s annual end-of-the-year festival, with a combination of excitement and nervousness evident in their response. There seemed to be an anxious, unsure, yet captivatingly curious attitude in Vollum Lecture Hall, where Renn Fayre Czars had called first-years, transfer students, and other first-time Renn Fayre attendees to congregate and learn, whether for the first time or the hundredth time, what Renn Fayre is all about. It was a Tuesday night, at the point in the school year when time on a school night seems to exponentially increase in value, but even so, an impressively large crowd filed into the auditorium. The Grail asked groups of first-year students about their perceptions of the three day festival before the meeting began.

Many of the first-years we spoke to said their first impressions of Renn Fayre emphasized images of “bacchanalia and hedonism.” “It’s a time where weird shit happens, and it’s a good time,” claimed one student, and when asked whether there were any traditions or lore surrounding Renn Fayre that they simply did not believe, the resounding answer among all the groups questioned was a simple “no,” with one first-year asserting that they believed, “anything could happen.” Most of what first-years and transfer students had heard came from upperclassmen and alumni; Tuesday’s gathering marked the first official announcement about Renn Fayre. Some students worried they weren’t prepared enough, while others appeared impatient as they waited for the meeting to begin. When asked if any images came to mind about Renn Fayre, one student guessed that it would be a “lesser burning man” and another pictured “Renn Fayre as a big ball of people on hardcore drugs, kissing each other, surrounded by music, and moshing.”

Such speculation continued for quite a while as students filled the lecture hall and took their seats, Renn Fayre Czars danced to Soulja Boy on the stage below, and various presenters prepared their speeches. Before entering, most first-years noted a degree of mystery surrounding Renn Fayre, and while much was cleared up at the meeting, plenty of students were left with questions still unanswered. Ultimately, however, the varying first-year visualizations of Renn Fayre all agreed that the festival is a time for students to enjoy themselves in whatever manner is most meaningful to them. In other words, as Dean of Students Bruce Smith said at the start of at the meeting, “Your Renn Fayre is your Renn Fayre.”