The Hippo


May 29, 2020








The Pillage Idiots preparing to entertain at last year’s Renaissance Festival at the Black Swan Inn. Courtesy photo.

Black Swan Inn Renaissance Festival

When: Saturday, June 28, and Sunday, June 29, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: 354 W. Main St., Tilton
Cost: $10 per person, $5 ages 5-12, Free for ages 4 and under. The two-day price special is $15.

Black Swan renaissance
Festival returns to Tilton inn


 Caught between vacation-friendly Lake Winnipesaukee and the culture-friendly city of Boston, Tilton needed something to catch the attention of passers-by — or, at least, that’s was Trish Basiliere’s immediate thought when she took over the Black Swan Inn in March of last year. 

“I ended up going to my husband and saying, ‘Why don’t we have a renaissance festival?’” Basiliere said. “And my husband looked at me like I had two heads.”
But he eventually agreed, and the Black Swan Inn Renaissance Festival was born. It’s happening Saturday, June 28, and Sunday, June 29, this year.
“We wanted to bring something different to this area to show that there is something to do,” she said. “If people come up to this area, they usually stop to shop at the Tanger Outlets or eat at the restaurants or get gas. We just want to bring people in.”
A massage therapist by trade, Basiliere had little background in marketing, advertising or event planning. So she had to turn to the modern-day resource that would ultimately help her with all aspects of planning an event: Facebook.
Through Facebook, she found Gia and Richard “Phinn” Volterra, promoters who founded PhinnVolt Enterprises and local “Rennies” (that’s the nickname for participants of Renaissance festivals) on the New England Rennies group page. With their help, the Black Swan Inn gathered performers for its first festival in June of last year.
“They said not to worry about charging us anything, so instead of paying them we gave them a place to stay and food,” said Basiliere. “They put it together with other Rennies in about a month, when usually you have to plan it a year [in advance].”
The Basilieres and the Volterras made sure to include all of the characters that make Renaissance fairs unique. A group of slapstick pirates known as The Pillage Idiots provide the comedic entertainment, and the Neville Companye come dressed in armor and ready for a sword fight. Other performers will include Wick’d with fire-breather Chelsey Cayer, Guy Todd the Wandering Harpist, Faire Fiddler Maid and The Primrose Pirates, to name a few.
The performers hold conversations using various slang terms and dialects (“privy” for example, means the toilet, if you’d like to ask where the bathroom is, Renaissance style), and Phinn said the performers are very knowledgeable about the Renaissance time period.
“Usually quite a few people who are in historical reenactment groups can back [their performances] up with information,” said Phinn. “The Primrose Pirates can tell you about pirate lives while they fire off black powder guns.”
Basiliere said the festival will have twice as many vendors as last year. Some of the classic renaissance patrons will be selling things like turkey legs, handmade cloaks, renaissance “garb,” leather attire and crafts. 
The festival will feature a little modernity with snacks like popcorn and shaved ice as well.
“We want to stand out and we want to be known as a business that’s not afraid to try something unique,” said Basiliere. “We want to bring a different kind of culture to this area. We’re not in Boston or Connecticut, and the only Renaissance fair in New Hampshire is in Kingston. And for patrons who have never been here before, it will put a bug in their ear that we are not only hosting a festival but also a bed and breakfast.” 
As seen in the June 26, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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