What are the housing arrangements of Renaissance Fair and carnival workers who travel from fair to fair?


Do they live in extended stay hotels or on the fairgrounds in motor home or tents? Do the fairs provide the housing or do performers have to provide everything themselves? Is it any different for the more famous performers?

How are things that require permanent addresses handled such as taxes, banking, having a consistent doctor, and receiving mail? What is the home life of a traveling performer and what amenities do they have?

In: 8

I always stayed on site. Have to get a pass to allow it, and there were often camp sites tucked away out of site with showers etc. granted that was like twenty years ago.

I know some of the folks cam onsite or in trailers, and the partying can reach legendary status.

In my experience with them (there’s some overlap in the traveling/hitchhiking community) renfair people camp on site, live in trailers or their cars. Some have neither and camp outside and piggyback rides off other workers on the circuit.
As far as I know, performers provide everything themselves; at least the ones I knew did.
I’m pretty sure the average carnie is likely getting paid under the table; if they have a bank account they probably use cash more; they don’t receive mail on the circuit, correspondence is digital. I’m not sure about home lifestyle because the ~4 people I hung out with were full time traveling and homeless otherwise. The amenities for them were: truck stop showers, food bank food, and no health insurance. They also drank heavily with their pay, so I’m not sure how a nonalcoholic carnie compares.
There’s a reason why carnies have the stereotype that they do. If you want to disappear and still make money while on the run, it’s probably not a bad gig.

I talked to some carnies once about this and all of those little “game” trailers like the balloon/dart game and ducks that float around in a circle all have living quarters in them. They said they could easily fit 8-12 people in each one. Some RV’s for the higher ups.

Sounded miserable to me as none were climate controlled.

I’m in the UK but go to quite a few battle reenactments and medieval festivals every year.

Most reenactors camp on site. The hard-core ‘living history’ people stay in their medieval canvas tents. There’s a few warnings over the PA system counting down to when they have to get all modern stuff put away out of sight for when the visitors start coming in. Different festivals will be more or less strict about how accurate their performers have to be. Some will allow you to put your LED torches and gas camping stoves in wooden chests or tuck them under the bed. Others will insist that all ‘plastic’ (i.e. modern stuff) has to be physically removed from the performance area and locked in cars.

Us lazy people stay in the ‘plastic’ campsite which is usually a bit further away and has no rules about modern stuff. I usually stay in a modern dome tent, but there’s often about a 50-50 split of modern tents and medieval canvas, it’s just the people staying in the medieval tents don’t want to be bothered with putting away all their plastic this year, so they’ve opted for the plastic campsite, even though they do actually have all the gear to stay in the period campsite.

It’s fun, but a 3-day festival for visitors is a 5-day work week for performers. You arrive on Thursday and get set up. There’s usually a big party on the first night which gets very boozy, with music and dancing and everyone catching up with people they often only see once or twice a year. You do a 12-hour day of entertaining, and then have another piss-up in the evening when the public are gone. There are often costume theme nights (last year at Herstmonceux, they had a Wild West theme, so cowboys were mixed in with Vikings and wars of the roses Knights – bit of a mindfuck).

By Sunday night, everyone is exhausted. You’ve been living in a field wearing ridiculous clothes with only portaloos and standpipes for hygiene for four days in the height of summer. You’re dehydrated, sunburnt, probably bitten by tons of insects. You’ve been lowkey drunk for three days straight, quite possibly stoned too. It’s the last night, no more public, no more responsibilities: time to get shitfaced. Massive party, usually going back to the campsites when the beer tent finally kicks you out at about 3am.

Then on Monday morning, you crawl out your tent, pack up all your stuff and go home. Usually with the help of a ton of ibuprofen and red bull.