Maryland Renaissance Festival

Nine weekends of merriment in a virtual 16th century village, the annual Maryland Renaissance Festival features hundreds of professional entertainers — King Henry VIII and his entourage, jousts on horseback, 12 stages of continuous entertainment, comedy and skills, magicians, acrobats, authentic costumes, music, taverns, yummy foods and superb craftspeople.

Come see us in season, in costume, if you like. Do bring your mask until further notice; many shops require it for everyone's health and safety. Huzzah!

Filmmaker Michele Schultz in 2021 recorded an hour and a half of making the rounds of the festival, with visits to several booths and impromptu interviews with festivalgoers. See her visit to Ye Olde Gamery starting around 37:00.

The 2020 season had to be closed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Instead, online virtual appearances by the artisans, performers, and vendors arrived on Facebook, round the clock at the MDRF Marketplace. And it will remain open year-round. "Stroll" (scroll) through the entire village, "talk" with the artisans, visit individual websites and find wonderful things to buy. Visit often, as new images continue to be added daily. Click here to see all of the Gamery's displays posted in the marketplace.

Our pavilion

Photograph by R. H. Grainger. Click for larger view (51KB).

The Kadon gamepuzzles booth is aptly named "Ye Olde Gamery" and provides an arcane arcade atmosphere with challenges and laughs galore. There is a $1.00 playing fee per puzzle, refunded upon purchase. Our award-winning pavilion (above), constructed in 1998, is a spacious 20x24x24 ft. and replaced the long-outgrown original booth used since 1985. This Festival is our home show. We've been a fixture with fairgoers for 36 years as of the 2019 season. And we represent, informally, the genuine intellectual side of the historical Renaissance, the rebirth of math and the arts.

Photograph by Arthur Blumberg, 2015 — click for larger view.

Photograph by Dick Jones, 2010

The spacious interior of the Kadon booth has lots of room for displaying many puzzles on the walls, and plenty of seating for players and puzzlers to be entertained. In 2010 we added new chandeliers, followed in 2011 by an antique-looking ceiling fan.

On the far left wall is a special banner of Don Quixote tilting at a windmill metaphorically representing myths and fallacies, and celebrating the mathematician Thomas Bayes' contributions to reason and logic. Banner is courtesy of Joe Marasco, who also wrote an Ode to the Reverend Bayes, using a clever rhyme scheme of 47 ways to rhyme with "Bayes", which we posted on the tower door. Here are close-ups of banner and verse:

Photograph by Dick Jones, 2014

The people

Photograph by Angelika Petrik

Patrons in costume make merry at the gaming table set in front of the shop, a special attraction with a large market umbrella providing shade and atmosphere. In black leather (above and at right) is Sir Kenneth Isbell, who inspired and for a number of years, until 2006, manned the game table featuring the Royal Game of the Goose and Game of the Labyrinth. He returned (below) as a colorful pirate for another stint during the 2015 and 2017 seasons.

Photograph by Art Blumberg

Photograph by Angelika Petrik

For many years, visitors were greeted by the friendly smile of "Sir" Fabian (above left), who also built much of the pavilion. He was greatly missed when he retired to Florida. Filling in during the 2004 season was the energetic Bjarne Viken (above right), a handsome "pirate" from Norway. After the season, the Kadon crew, in costume, celebrated an evening of dinner and horsemanship at Medieval Times. Here's the official group portrait.

From 2010 through the 2016 season, we had the lovely assistance of the talented Meshele Merchant—bellydancer, fortune teller, master chef, artist/painter, serving wench, and puzzle instructor. This day she wore a jingly outfit in honor of the festival's Pirate Invasion theme.

Photo by Dick Jones

At the end of our entrance ramp, lately painted a cheerful green, a groundhog had dug an entrance to his tunnel that runs under the entire booth. No matter how often management tried to fill it with concrete, the determined fellow dug it out again. We finally decided to give him his permanent entrance and only close it off during show hours with a hinged gate, nicely painted by Sue Bare:

Photo by Art Blumberg

Here's a typical scene of eager crowds at play with boardgames and puzzles. Many visitors arrive in costume to match the theme.

Photograph by Art Blumberg, 2013

Mistress Katrina, the proprietress, is seen here in her Renaissance regalia, with bodice laced, ready for visitors to test their wits on the puzzles.

Photograph by Dick Jones

Mistress Eileen introduces a young visitor to the strategies of Tara, the game of Celtic knots. Eileen is a member of the Games Club of Maryland and the Baltimore Science Fiction Society and a most gracious hostess at the Gamery.

Photograph by Art Blumberg

A visitor concentrates deeply as he matches wits with the Gamery's resident mathematician and instructor, Elijah Allen (at right), in a game of The Power of Two.

Photograph by Art Blumberg

Dick Jones is part of the Saturday crew. He's especially good with the kids who eagerly come in to try the puzzles.

Photograph by Art Blumberg

Photographs by Art Blumberg, 2008

Rolinda Collinson, our lovely and vivacious goose mistress from the 2008 season until 2014, brought fun and delight to visitors of all ages in experiencing an authentic Renaissance game, The Royal Game of the Goose, a unique and exclusive feature at Ye Olde Gamery. Even the King and his court succumbed to her charms and visit annually to engage in gaming and royal banter (see pictures below). Rolinda, a special-education teacher in real life, followed her heart and moved to North Carolina in 2015. She will always be missed.

Royal gaming

Photograph by Art Blumberg, 2009

Photograph by Dick Jones, 2010

Photograph by Art Blumberg, 2011

Photograph by Art Blumberg, 2012

Photograph by Eric Bare, 2013

Photograph by Art Blumberg, 2013

On a return visit, the King and his companions (above) made merry indoors to stay out of the rain. Afterward His Majesty delivered a personal and eloquent commendation to Mistress Katrina (below) upon Ye Olde Gamery's 30th anniversary at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Must have been a cold day, judging from Kate's warm duds. This day the Gamery also hosted an official 2013 Celebration of Mind for Martin Gardner's birthday.

Photograph by Art Blumberg, 2013

In 2014 (below), the Royal Court again moved indoors on a soggy weekend, to the delight of two young girls who got to play the Royal Game of the Goose with their Majesties, hosted by Mistress Meshele as Mother Goose (in antique rocking chair).

Photograph by Dick Jones, 2014

In 2015 (below), for the third rainy year in a row, King Henry VIII sought refuge within the merry Gamery, accompanied by the "ambassador from the Holy Roman Empire" (red hat) and "the Fool" (blue cape). They were entertained by Sir Eric (black cap) and Sir Elijah (long beard) in an intense bout of The Royal Game of the Goose. The Fool won the game this time but lived to lose another day.

Photograph by Dick Jones, 2015

In 2016 (below), we were fortunate to gain a new Goose mistress, the lady Katrina, while her husband, Hans Weidig, took over the challenge table. They were married at the Faire in 2015. Here the King won on his first roll (we bent the rules a little) but promised to return for a full match.

Photograph by Sir Ken, Kadon friend and Master of the Labyrinth, 2016

In 2019 (below) we were honored several times by visits from his royal majesty, King Henry VIII, who always plays with unrestrained enthusiasm, to the delight of visitors who get in on the game.

Photograph by Art Blumberg, 2019

Major milestones

35 Years of Kadon—The year 2014 was also the 35th anniversary of Kadon's founding, and we made the most of it with a huge banner saved from the Festival's own 35th anniversary a few years before. Here's part of our well-costumed crew ready for the day's action: Dick, Kate, Thomas, Meshele. Thomas is wearing a garment he made, showing his family's official crest.

Photograph by Eric Bare, 2014

40 Years of Kadon—Five years later, in 2019, we celebrated four decades of creative work and production with a super group of associates. The large "35 Years" banner (above) got overlaid (below) with a huge number 40 made by Sue Bare for the occasion. Here's a collage of our entire productive history.

100 Years of Martin Gardner—The year 2014 also marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Martin Gardner (1914-2010), and the Gamery hosted an official Celebration of Mind, one of many commemorative events world-wide. We had a special banner for the beloved author who inspired us and millions of others with an appreciation for mathematical games. Kate designed a special Latin Square puzzle as a souvenir for visitors. Feel free to print out a copy for yourself.

Photograph by Eric Bare, 2014

Celebrations of Mind
Hosting the annual Celebration of Mind festivities has become a yearly tradition at Ye Olde Gamery. You can read their reports here: 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019

40 Years of Maryland Renaissance Festival— The Maryland Renaissance Festival celebrated its 40th season in 2016, and Ye Olde Gamery designed and presented to the management a special award honoring the family Smith, four brothers and their father, who founded the Festival and whose incredibly hard work through the decades has made the Festival an enduring success. We've been with them 35 years (as of 2018) and look forward to many more.

We were sad to learn in September 2018 that the elder Mr. Jules Smith had passed away suddenly in his Minnesota home. He was 88. In a remembrance album all the exhibitors signed for the bereaved family, Kate wrote this haiku:

With deep gratitude
Traversing the centuries,
Your creation lives!

Challenge games
Sir Richard takes on a young challenger in the game of Squint. The challenges are a popular and suspenseful attraction for onlookers and contestants alike. Winners get special tokens to redeem in the booth or keep as trophies. Quaint factoid — notice the unfinished walls. This was the new booth's first weekend.

Photograph by Kimberly Kiddoo, 1998

As Kadon's resident gamemaster for 30 years (he retired in 2013), Sir Richard was one of the most colorful and esteemed characters of the "village." Here he is again, in 1999, this time with longer hair and shorter beard, pondering a particularly strategic move. Note the now-finished stucco walls. At right, an even longer beard to approach the Gandalf look.


Sir Richard kept careful logs of his seasonal wins and losses. Here, with his non-leaky quill he's recording the day's scores. On a good day, challengers had a 15% chance of victory.

Photograph by Arthur Blumberg, 2011

The challenge game tradition continues, with various games featured for visitors to learn and to match wits with members of our crew:

The Shakespearean gamepuzzles catalog
A 28-page "Renaissance" edition of the Kadon catalog was printed on parchment-like paper, in Shakespearean style, rhymes and all (copyrights 1996, 1998 and 2000). It won a special publication award in October 2003 from Festival management. For a close-up view of the cover page of this unusual document, click on this miniature. Or read the latest updated 48-page whole catalog as a .pdf (4 MB).

To Product Index To Historical Games

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