The Fountain on the Green, known also as Wilson Park, is a cursed kingdom.
Travelers and pilgrims, however, need not worry about danger when visiting because the curse only affects royalty.
The curse ensures that kings and queens are only able to be royalty for one year.
At least that’s the story, and one of many reasons the Alabama Renaissance Faire is unique among faires in the U.S.
“Most Renaissance faires keep a king like King Henry or something, and if you go today it’ll be the same king as it was five years ago,” said William Freeman, a board member for the Alabama Renaissance Faire. “But each year, you come to our faire there will be someone different there.”
Freeman added, “How do you explain it as far as the story goes? Well one of our volunteers came up with a history where our fantasy kingdom was cursed where our kings and queens are only allowed to reign one year.”
So, with a wink and a nudge, each year when a monarch is picked, all the citizens of this kingdom hope he or she can break the curse, knowing, of course, that next year a new monarch will be chosen.
Royalty in major Renaissance faires across the country are hired actors playing famous Renaissance-era royalty.
At the Alabama Renaissance Faire, all the actors and royalty are volunteers and the monarchs are picked at random at the faire’s fundraising feast.
As years progressed, each king and queen put their stamp on the story, creating a unique mythology for the faire.
“We had a person who (was chosen to be king) and they said, ‘I want to do more than that,’ ” Freeman said. “We had never done that before, but he wanted to do more and wanted to develop an actual persona.”
From that point on, all the kings and queens took that idea and developed their own characters, Freeman said. Now royalties are encouraged to celebrate their heritage or a storyline.
But royalty and their stories are just one way the Renaissance Faire is unique. Another way is the cost of admission: Nothing.
The Alabama Renaissance Faire has been happening every year in Florence for 26 years and still doesn’t charge admission.
“The cool thing is, it’s still free,” said Billy Warren, board member of the Alabama Renaissance Faire. “When you go to those big commercial faires, you pay 15 bucks just to get in. You can drop a lot of money in no time flat. You can come to this faire, have a really good time and not spend a penny. Of course we hope you will with the vendors so they’ll come back and the food and whatever. But you can come and have a good time and not spend a penny.”
Spending less on coming to the faire, allows patrons to spend more on their medieval garb. In fact, Warren said participation is something the Alabama Renaissance Faire prides itself on.
“We have a larger percentage of people who come to our faire in costume than go to those larger faires where they have 2000 people,” Warren said. “Because they just go to be entertained, they don’t go to participate. We have participation.”
There will be period-era food, dancing, music and magic at the faire along with chess, parades and sword play. The highlight of the faire is the crowning of the monarch, which is 3 p.m. Sunday.
“It’s all very low-tech and all reflects the time period,” Warren said. “Of course, they didn’t have texting or anything, so it’s low-tech but that adds to the fun of it.”
The faire’s hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. The faire has also teamed with In Harmony With Nature, which works to keep events in the Shoals green and litter-free.
Bobby Bozeman can be reached at 256-740-5722 or bobby.bozeman@TimesDaily.com.