Great Lakes Medieval Faire being persecuted by township trustlessees

Larry Rickard, owner of the Great Lakes Medieval Faire in Trumbull twp., Ashtabula Co., is considering closing after this season because of a 10-year legal assault by local trustees over the heavy traffic brought in 12 days a year. In the latest onslaught, they went after the vendors with a law, because it sounded good:

The simmering feud boiled over a few weeks ago, after the trustees revised the township’s laws requiring “transient vendors” to register with the township and pay a $150 fee.

None of the Faire’s more than 100 vendors, who sell artwork and crafts, registered. Two weekends ago, deputies from the county sheriff’s department handed out about 50 citations, ordering vendors to appear in court today.

Griffith says she and the vendors refuse to register.

“We’re not going to let them extort $150 from each of us,” said Griffith. She contends that transient vendors already have permits from the state and that township registration is not needed on private property.

Indeed, section 505.94 of the Ohio Revised Code gives township trustees the right to require transient vendors to register, but not those people “invited by an owner or tenant to visit the owner’s or tenant’s premises to sell.”

Now, I’ve been there once or twice. I worked the Michigan Faire in Holly for a number of years. I’d be interested in a medieval cultural fair, sort of like the Ann Arbor Medieval Festival ca. 1980. But it’s hard to get excited about the cheesy theme parks that RenFaires have become, about working for entertainment directors who would rather hire umpteen pub singers singing anachronistic songs accompanied by anachronistic instruments than have real period music. I knew a folk-singing couple who worked a Faire in New Jersey, and were reprimanded by the ED for singing Twa Corbies …”It sounds like a doige! People wanna hear happy music!” … leading to a rewrite of Twa Corbies in the style of Tommy Makem, with the chorus line “We’re gonna eat ‘im!” Now, if you’re an Entertainment Director of taste, click here and maybe we’ll find something to talk about. (Also, this is not to disparage some of the fine nonmusic professionals I have worked with, including the Flaming Idiots, John and Patty Benson of Ormworks, SAK Theater, and others.)

But that’s neither here nor there. Nor is the trustees’ flagrant disrespect of state restrictions on their power. The problem, my friends, is your neighbors. People seem to think that township trustees and zoning boards have the right to take over private property for them, or at least to dictate the uses to which that property can be used. Not all … our trustees have been very good about ignoring complaints about shooting on Dale Soinski’s land, (unlike the Nelson trustees) even if they haven’t been as proactive about cleaning out the boilerplate from the local zoning ordinance (what’s wrong with single-wides, anyway?). But in general, citizens don’t care about property rights unless it’s their property.  Real Americans, as opposed to whining wussies, would be calling their local roofers and chicken farmers for contributions for a parade, with the trustees as guests of dishonor. Evidently, since GLMF is the only thing in the local economy, they aren’t getting enough of the tourism swag to compensate them for heavy traffic. Also, Rennies are probably way too much like hippies for local tastes. So let’s make it all go away, diversity be damned.


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