Fair(e) play? Dueling Fargo area Renaissance festivals leave fans in the Dark Ages

Confusion exists as similarly named events overlap in August.

Knights battle in a round of jousting during the North Dakota Renaissance Faire at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds last summer. The N.D. Renaissance Faire will move to the North Dakota Horse Park this year while the RRVF hosts its own Renaissance Fair.
Forum file photo

WEST FARGO — Dueling Renaissance festivals in Fargo and West Fargo this August have led to confusion among fans and crossed swords for organizers.

The gauntlet was thrown down late last week when the Red River Valley Fair announced its North Dakota Renaissance Fair.

“Hear ye, Hear ye!” the RRVF posted on its Facebook page . “The North Dakota Renaissance Fair will take over the Red River Valley Fairgrounds on August 5, 6, 12 and 13, 2023!”

This fired up the North Dakota Renaissance Faire , which posted on its Facebook page :

“!! ATTENTION FAIRE GOERS NEAR AND FAR!! We want to make it clear that the North Dakota Renaissance Faire is the ONLY Official event affiliated with our organization King Caesar Productions. We have noticed another event is being promoted under our name. Please be aware that this event is NOT associated with us in any way.”


The N.D. Renaissance Faire is scheduled for Aug. 12, 13, 19, 20, 26 and 27 at the North Dakota Horse Park in Fargo.

The confusion stems not only from similar names and dates, but also because the ND Renaissance Faire was held at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds last year.

Olissio Zoppe, director of King Caesar Productions, which produces the North Dakota Renaissance Faire, claims RRVF wanted a bigger role in this year’s event, so he decided to bring the N.D. Renaissance Faire to the N.D. Horse Park.

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Olissio Zoppe, director of King Caesar Productions, which produces the North Dakota Renaissance Faire.
Contributed / Olissio Zoppe

“As soon at they saw it was a success, they wanted a hand in the cookie jar,” he says referring to talks he had with the RRVF board this winter about bringing the show back. He claims the RRVF wanted to do the marketing and play more of a role in things like concessions.

“If you take all of this it feels like you are taking all of my event,” he says. “I’m pretty upset. That’s just dirty business, that’s all there is to it. You don’t try to steal someone’s event because it was successful.”

Zoppe performs in the show as an 8th generation equestrian acrobat and a 3rd generation jouster. He says this summer’s N.D. Renaissance Faire at the N.D. Horse Park will also include Cirque Ma’Ceo, a theatrical horse show with acrobats under a big top as well as performers from last year’s event like Opal the Fairy.

Opal the Fairy makes bubbles for children to enjoy during the North Dakota Renaissance Faire in 2022. She will perform at the North Dakota Renaissance Faire this August at the North Dakota Horse Park.
Forum file photo

He says about 15,000 people attended the N.D. Renaissance Faire in 2022.

RRVF Director of Marketing and Events Elizabeth Birkemeyer says last year’s arrangement was a partnership between the RRVF and King Caesar Productions, “not a traditional rental,” as Zoppe says. She says when the RRVF wanted to help more with the event, they never heard back from King Caesar Productions.


The RRVF’s North Dakota Renaissance Fair in 2023 will feature Knights of Valour - Extreme Jousting, a company based in Canada known for creating the History Channel's “Full Metal Jousting” . It will also include other performers like stunt acts, musicians, jokers and a dinner theater feast at night.

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A rider from Knights of Valour which will perform at the North Dakota Renaissance Festival at the Red River Valley Fairgrounds this summer.
Contributed / Red River Valley Fair

Birkemeyer denies that the RRVF was trying to confuse Renaissance festival fans with the event’s name or date, stating the RRVF hosts events year-round so time is a premium.

“Similar events happen all of the time wherever you are,” she says.

Zoppe calls the RRVF tactics, "bait and switch."

Two people responded to the N.D. Renaissance Faire Facebook post saying they bought tickets for the Red River Valley Fair event mistakenly thinking it was for the N.D. Renaissance Faire.

Birkemeyer says that if people have questions or concerns about their tickets they should contact the RRVF office.

She adds that RRVF owns naming rights to North Dakota Renaissance Fair.

Zoppe, meanwhile, says he has trademarked North Dakota Renaissance Faire.


“In any other contracts with any other venues, I’ve never had to think about a no-compete clause with a rental facility,” Zoppe says. “There’s nothing lower and more double-cross than that. It’s absolutely beyond me and disgusting.”

“As a non-profit, we pride ourselves in putting together events that bring the community together,” Birkemeyer says.

Gaige Jevne, left, Kat Claeys, Kylee Johnson and Jessica Butler pose in their Renaissance outfits at the North Dakota Renaissance Faire in 2022.
Forum file photo

The rift between the rivaling Renaissance festivals may not bring fans of the Elizabethan era together. On the N.D. Renaissance Faire Facebook post, fans protested the RRVF’s event, with one going Medieval and calling it “absolutely scummy” and signing off, “I bite my thumb at thee, RRVF!”

Another said the RRVF was removing comments from its post and blocking commenters, to which the N.D. Renaissance Faire replied, “sounds like you should report them to the local authorities.”

“Comments that are slanderous or are not doing any good we don’t allow on our posts,” Birkemeyer says.

“Anybody putting on an event there, I would advise against it because they will steal it if it’s successful,” Zoppe says.

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