Latest News: Friday, September 6 2019 - DMRF 2019 Status

Des Moines Renaissance Faire History

After the Iowa Renaissance Festival moved from the state fairgrounds to the Amana Colonies in 1999, and Salisbury Faire held it's last year in 2002, and a new festival began in Des Moines.

2004 Spring - Iowa State Fair Parking Lot

DMRF 2004 State Fairgrounds
Although planned to be held at Water Works Park, a flood just before the event caused it to be hastily relocated to a corner parking lot at the Iowa State Fairgrounds.

2004 Fall - Water Works Park

DMRF 2004 Water Works Park
Although a much prettier location than a corner parking lot of the state fair, the October Water Works Park location was still just tents in a park. And no real restrooms!

The second pre-Festival Park event.

2005 - Iowa State Fair campgrounds

DMRF 2005 State Fairgrounds
What? No castle? The "soft"/temporary location at the state fairgrounds was nothing but tents in a park.

The third and final pre-Festival Park event. (Well, unless you count a special student day mini-festival that was held on the soccer field at Sleepy Hollow Sports Park the following year...)

2006 - Student Education Day

DMRF 2005 State Fairgrounds
A one day Student Education day (not open to the public).

Held on the soccer fields (which later became the DMRF parking lot) at Sleepy Hollow Sports Park, this one day event was offered for Des Moines area schools. Many of the merchants who vended were in the process of having their permanent shops designed and constructed across the river at what would soon be known as Festival Park (it didn't have a name yet).

2006 - Year 1 at Festival Park

DMRF 2006
A very landscaping-bare Canterbury Plaza greeted guests in 2006. Wood chips and mud was all the rage that year!

Festival Park opens at Sleepy Hollow Sports Park on September 2nd, 2006. There was construction equipment still moving around the site mere minutes before the guests were let in! Severe raining proved that the new home had some drainage issues, but also proved that regatta boat races were possible in front of the royal food court area.

2007 - Year 2 at Festival Park

Restrooms 2007
Privies that flush! Huzzah! (Some events in the region that have been around decades still do not have flushing toilets and real sinks!)

Even though they suffered some downtime early on, real restrooms were added to Festival Park during its second year of operation. The kinks were quickly worked out and now things operate much more smoothly (with the exception of running out of paper towels now and then)...

Additions in 2007:

2008 - Year 3 at Festival Park

King Oberons Realm 2008
King Oberon's Faery Realm treehouse.

In 2008, the first bit of expansion occurred with the addition of four new merchant shops (expanded in size, and built after the pattern used for 5+ shops on one of the High Street buildings).

More construction this year, too:

2009 - Year 4 at Festival Park

Guild Hall Roof 2009
The Guild Hall/Village Marketplace gets a new roof!

2009 was probably the first year the park starting to look really pretty as landscaping started to mature. Further steps were taken to weather proof the park with the addition of a real roof over the formerly canopy-covered Village Marketplace, and a new concrete floor in the Feast Hall.

Notable additions in 2009:

2010 - Year 5 at Festival Park

Canterbury Plaza
Canterbury Plaza, September 4, 2010.

Massive flooding affects the entire area, from close to the Sleepy Hollow lodge all the way to Festival Park, but Sleepy Hollow's cleanup crew quickly got the park in to shape better than ever!

New for the 2010 season:

2011 - Year 6 at Festival Park

The Dungeon Tour, installed in the corner of Marrick Castle in 2007, receives a high-tech, computer controlled update. A new narrated five minute tour guides visitors through displays from a much darker time. Over the three weekends, the show evolved, with changes made to the soundtrack and timing.

2012 - Year 7 at Festival Park

New banners and ribbons decorate the entrance bridge and the castle. The Dungeon Tour (aka Torture Chamber museum) returns with a reprogrammed show control system and automatic gates to keep the tours going more efficiently.

The weekend themes from 2011 return:

2013 - Year 8 at Festival Park

2014 - Year 9 at Festival Park

A new winery joined us, taking over the former tavern location (aka, Saucy Wench Tavern). The former Viking Pavillion becomes the new home of the expanded Saucy Wench Tavern with expanded bar and new decorations, including "port holes" that could be opened to let in extra air and light. The torture chamber tour once again receives more minor show updates.

2015 - Year 10 at Festival Park

This was the final year the Des Moines Renaissance Faire was held at Sleepy Hollow Sports Park.

2016-2018 - Haitus

Festivals International signs a three-year "no compete" contract with Sleepy Hollow Sports Park and agrees not to host the Des Moines Renaissance Faire until 2019.


After a three year haitus, the Des Moines Renaissance Faire returns with a new management crew.

To see more photos of the Des Moines Renaissance Faire throughout the years, check out's Iowa Photo Gallery (not affiliated with this website).


Custom Search