After 40 years in Shakopee, the Minnesota Renaissance Festival is looking for a new home.
The festival, which runs for several weeks each fall, has slowly been losing ground to a nearby gravel mine. But it wasn’t until the most recent season that the festival’s vendors and performers — some of whom have been with the festival for decades — learned that the mine could soon edge them out entirely.
“Underneath the various shops is limestone that’s more valuable than our lease,” said Jim Peterson, who runs the company that manages the festival.
Dates haven’t been finalized, but at this point it looks as if the festival will relocate in 2017. It probably won’t move far; festival organizers have talked about locations such as Jordan and Belle Plaine.
Peterson said there are half a dozen spots under consideration. Festival officials are hoping to find one as soon as possible, he said, so that they can alert employees and start the formidable moving process in motion.
“We feel that we have a very strong and real obligation to be good communicators,” Peterson said.
Carr Hagerman, who manages the festival’s hundreds of performers, said he’s looking forward to the change. He got involved with the festival as a teenager in the 1970s and remembers its slow evolution.
“Back then, a lot of the booths were burlap,” he said. “They were small and had barely any coverings, and over time it’s been built up to what it [is]. I think we’re going to have to kind of go through that again.”