This tourist attraction had a very short history, lasting only from 1996 to 1999. There is a place in Fredericksburg, Virginia, which the locals call Sherwood Forest.
In this wooded area, 45 miles south from Washington, stand many abandoned buildings that once made up the Virginia Renaissance Faire.
Renaissance Entertainment Corporation acquired land in Fredericksburg in order to create a fair that replicated those of the Middle Ages. The price of purchase and construction came out at around $5 million.
There is a suggestion that the land chosen once belonged to the mother of George Washington.
The fair held its official opening in the summer of 1996. The buildings were constructed in the style of the European Middle Ages, and some of them even had towers. A unique attraction of this fair was a replica pirate sailing ship set in a small pond; shows and entertainment took place onboard.
It had been the company’s intention to organize medieval fairs every summer, but it turned out that this location was not suitable for a tourist attraction at all. Summer in this part of Virginia is always hot and humid, and the land was swampy, attracting a lot of mosquitoes.
Furthermore, the remote location had been chosen because the company wanted the Renaissance Faire to be an immersive experience.
Unfortunately, the travel time taken to get to the Faire put a lot of people off from visiting. This particular spot in Sherwood Forest was 45 miles from Washington and 58 miles from Richmond.
Up until 1999, the company made a loss on every fair it ran until, finally, in 1999, it decided to close the fair. Those who worked there were not told until the end of 1999 that the attraction wouldn’t be open the next year.
After the fair was closed, some of the props and decorations were moved to another of Renaissance Entertainment Corporation’s site. But otherwise, the whole site was simply abandoned and left to nature. Over time, the buildings became unsafe.
Although the site remained forgotten, in 2002, a group of volunteers and some performers who had been employed at the former amusement park decided to revive the idea of a medieval fair.
The project was named “Out of the Woodwork Productions,” and volunteers organized a new fair to take place at Lake Anna Winery in nearby Spotsylvania.
Every year, the fair opens on the Saturday before Mother’s Day and lasts for the next five weekends.
At the moment, the abandoned site is up for sale with a price tag of about $6.5 million. The last owner, who bought the former fair for $1.3 million, filed for bankruptcy in 2013.
Despite its abandoned state, the property is regularly monitored with prominent no trespassing signs put up, meaning that there’s little vandalism and virtually no graffiti. The land is also leased to a hunting club that utilizes the overgrown site, putting unexpected visitors in great danger.
As a result, visitors to this ‘tourist attraction’ and urban researchers are strongly dissuaded from entering this abandoned facility, even to see a bygone age briefly brought back to life.
A big thank you to Jack Parrott for allowing us to share his fantastic photographs of the abandoned Renaissance Faire in Virginia with our readers. Check out his page on Flickr.