Renaissance Festival: 1

In Pittsburgh on September 7, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Renaissance Faire 009

The Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival is an annual carnival of knights, jesters, damsels and wenches. On the outside, the Festival is pure fun — a place where knife-throwing and archery are ordinary pastimes, and roast turkey-leg is always on the menu.

But the Festival is also a business, and in 2007, that company teetered on bankruptcy. Jim Paradise, Sr., a major investor in the Festival, described the company as “embarrassing.” After all, the Festival had lost $4 million in 10 years and faced permanent closure. Paradise faced a choice: He could either abandon ship with the other investors, or he could buy the entire Festival himself and try to revive it. Last year, the Festival hosted 37,000 visitors. This year, Paradise told me he expects 50,000. If all goes well, the Festival grounds may double in area over the next few years.


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