The Bay Area Renaissance Festival was first held in 1979 in the city of
Largo, Florida. By 1980, the Faire had added food booths, a human
chess match and a unique marketplace. Ownership and management changed to
the Mid America Festivals group at that time. As attendance to the popular
event grew, so did the number of artisans, demonstrations, entertainers
The Faire grew
to a full five weekend event to accommodate growing demand. At that point
the event had developed beyond the status of local event to a regional
tourist attraction. The show continued to develop fans through the
next decades, offering more each year in entertainment, education, food and
art. Through the 1990’s, Faire attendance had grown to nearly 80,000 annual
Lost & Found / Will Call
Scene Just Inside the Entrance
In 2004 Faire promoters chose
to relocate the Festival to Tampa, Florida adjacent to the Museum of Science
and Industry. After years of providing an aesthetic guests could immerse
themselves in upon entering the show, careful consideration was needed to
find a new location equal to the task. The Museum of Science and Industry
with the leadership of Wit Ostrenko, President of MOSI, offered Mid America
Festivals a location near the museum. Though much landscaping and
attentiveness to environmental issues was required, the Festival site was
erected, complimenting the educational and entertainment philosophy of its
long standing neighbor. Hillsborough County and Tampa City officials have
also been an integral part of the success of the show in its current
location at 46th and Fowler, offering building guidance and codes compliance
standards as the site develops. In total, this year marks the 30th season
for this long time event. (From
Portrayed by Miami native Michael Marzella, a
30-year veteran of the Bay Area Renaissance Festival and 9-year veteran of the
the Ft. Myers RenFest. Michael is a king size man at 6’4” and with king
sized physique. His distinctive booming bass voice has created voiceover
characters for Disney World in rides, announcements & attractions in all four
parks, and for the Disney Cruise Line, Universal Studios and Sea World in
central Florida. He's done voiceover jobs for Verizon, banks, and a range of
stores, services and products. He recently recorded an instructional video for
Rolls Royce aircraft engines. He has performed at the Bay Area Renaissance
Festival (Tampa Bay) since 1979 and has performed as numerous characters in
acting roles. He had a
role on "Full House" with Bob Saget as a lamp seller and once won the Metropolitan Opera auditions for Florida. Michael was an award-winning
writer for The St. Petersburg Times for nearly a decade before moving on to the
Renaissance Festival circuit.
Caroline Jett plays Queen Catherine Parr at the Bay Area Renaissance
Festival and Queen Elizabeth I at the Michigan Renaissance Festival.
She is a professional actor and member of the Screen Actors Guild, having
graduated from the College of Charleston (South Carolina) with a B.A. in
Theater. She has over 50 stage credits to her name, including Fiddler
on the Roof, Good Woman of Setzuan and Godspell.
Jett has appeared in several films including North and South and
Phantom of the Ritz; television shows including Swamp Thing
and Nickelodeon's Think Fast; and has numerous commercial credits
to her name. Caroline has also taught extensively, including dance,
acting, theatrical make-up, set design and construction. Her theatrical
experience also includes directing and choreography, and she and her
husband have written several screen and stage plays. (From
Jobsite Theater Bio) When she's not acting, Jett publishes a
monthly anti-crime newspaper based in Tampa, Florida called The Crusader.
Since the paper's founding in 1992, it's helped authorities capture 3,289
fugitives from justice and find 438 missing children. To learn more about
it, visit www.usacrusader.com.
Landsknechts were European, most often German,
mercenary pikemen and supporting foot soldiers from the late 15th to
the late 16th century, who achieved the reputation for being the
universal mercenary of the European Renaissance.
A mercenary is a soldier who takes part in an armed
conflict, who is not a national or a party to the conflict, and is
motivated to take part in the hostilities essentially by the desire
for private gain. He is promised, by or on behalf of a party to
the conflict, material compensation substantially in excess of that
promised or paid to combatants of similar ranks and functions in the
armed forces of that Party
The term "landsknecht" is from German,
Land "land, country" + Knecht "servant", recorded from circa 1480. It
was originally intended to indicate soldiers of the lowlands of the Holy
Roman Empire as opposed to the Swiss mercenaries.
is a military rank in several German-speaking and Scandinavian
countries, equivalent to Colonel. It is currently used by both the
ground and air forces of Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Denmark and
Norway. The Swedish rank överste is a direct translation, as are the
Finnish rank eversti and the Icelandic rank ofursti.
Landsknechts were trained in the use of the famous long
pikes and used the pike square formations developed by the Swiss.
A pike is a pole weapon, a very long thrusting spear used two-handed
and used extensively by infantry. Unlike many similar weapons, the
pike is not intended to be thrown. Pikes were used by European troops
from the early Middle Ages until around 1700, wielded by foot soldiers
deployed in close order.
The majority of Landsknechts would
use pikes, but others, meant to provide tactical assistance to the
pikemen, used different weapons. An experienced Landsknecht could be
designated a Doppelsöldner, and instead of wielding a pike as did more
recent recruits, would employ a six to eight foot long halberd or
partisan, or, more famously, a
Zweihänder, a two-handed sword as long as 6 feet (although it was
generally called at the time a Beidhänder rather than a Zweihänder).
These great war swords could be used to hack off the heads of enemy
pikes; or more likely to knock the pikes aside, creating disorder
among the tightly arranged enemy pikemen in order to break through
The Landsknecht's Clothing
The landsknechts were conspicuous with their
elaborate dress, which they adopted from the Swiss, but later took to even more
Doublets, deliberately slashed at the front, back and sleeves
with shirts and other wear pulled through to form puffs of different-colored
puffed and slashed; parti-colored hose;
flat beret-type hats with tall feathers; and broad flat shoes, made them bodies
of men that could not be mistaken.
A Landsknecht with his Wife
An etching circa 1500 by Daniel Hopfer. Note
the huge Zweihänder sword over his shoulder, and the smaller Katzbalger sword at
his hip, both emblematic of the Landsknecht.
Hauptmann (Captain) Fritz Karrer
Theobold and Oberst (Colonel) Baron Gerrit von Greyssn with a guest
Members of the Landsknechts train constantly in
Medieval and Renaissance combat, both armed and unarmed. From
wrestling and dagger fighting to Longsword and rapier, the
Landsknechts work constantly to actually be the historic soldiers they
portray. The Landsknechts meet every Tuesday night at the Highland
Recreation Center on Highland Avenue in Largo, Florida to train and
Ken enjoys technology & history and thrives in diversity.
Has done everything from flight lessons to school librarian. A graduate of
St. Pete Jr. College, he is working on his degree in Computer Science at the
University of Central Florida in Orlando, with a possible minor in German and
has an intern position with Cole Engineering Services, Inc.
The Landsknechts are a Medieval and
Renaissance performing arts troupe without equal. Whether you want
your lanes filled with colorful characters, someone to host special
events, teach you or your patrons historic medieval combat,
choreograph stage combat, or nearly anything else you can imagine, the
Landsknechts are for you. They are your soldiers for hire.
Albrecht and Kimberly, a playtron.
Three of ten Fraulein
Grizelda, Mildred & Britta weave 15th Century German-style
Above, Wilhelm gives combat training to an armored
At left and below, Wilhelm instructs a young lad in the use of the Zweihänder
Theobold instructs playtrons of all ages, regardless of gender, in the
landsknecht's western martial arts style. Though the Renaissance Festival
affords the landsknechts an opportunity for fun and enjoyment, it is the aspect
of providing historical combat training and instruction that brings them the
most satisfaction. Above and below, he demonstrates various ringen
(wrestling) and close quarters fighting with the dolch (rondel