Renaissance Festival Wants to Move to Upper Pindell Road in Lothian
The Renaissance Festival is looking to move from its current location in Crownsville to South County. To that end, the property owner has submitted a request for a special exception to allow the festival to move to the 225-acre parcel at 937 Upper Pindell Road in Lothian. A hearing on the exception is slated for 9:30 a.m. on June 12 at the Arundel Center in downtown Annapolis.
Thursday, June 12, 2014. 9:30 a.m. –MICHAEL BOOTH & INTERNATIONAL RENAISSANCE FESTIVALS, Ltd.- 2014-0061-S (AD 8, CD 7) special exception to allow a Renaissance Festival in an RA-Residential District on property located 2570′ along the west side of MD Route 4, 0′ south of Upper Pindell Road, Lothian. Property Address: 937 Upper Pindell Road, Lothian, MD 20711
On February 4, the Facebook page for the Maryland Renaissance Festival, posted the following notice by Jules Smith, president of the company:
To our friends: We really enjoy bringing the Festival to our customers and offering an event that is one of the premier festivals in the entire region and in the top renaissance festivals in North America. We have been offered a large property directly on a major divided highway with larger fields and woods. We love being stewards of the property we currently lease but feel it is important to study this opportunity and see if approval from authorities would be permitted to operate in a new area that would allow us to provide an event with improved access, better customer services, greater space and more gentle topography in the village. We love the village we and our vendors have built. We want to see if we can improve and enhance that for our customers by looking at a new location. We are not moving until and if the conditions are right and a process like this can take several years. This process will be submitted through a public zoning procedure and we wanted you, our followers and our fans, to be informed from us before it appears in media reports or in rumors. When and if a decision is made to begin such a project we will be seeking your ideas to contribute to the show. Until then we look forward to seeing you in Revel Grove, where we have been for 29 years.
The possible move was a hot topic at the Republican County Executive debate on Monday, with both candidates opposing the move from Crownsville to Lothian.
This area of the county had a protracted zoning conflict that ended in 2010 when the county settled with Riverdale Baptist Church for $3.25 million and the right to build a school, Arundel Bay Christian Academy (968 Lower Pindell Road). The County Council had blocked the zoning of the school after designating several roads as “scenic and historic.” Neighbors in that case were strongly opposed to the development of the school.
Expect a similar reaction to the festival, which lures over 300,000 visitors (15,800 daily) during the festival season from August to October.
At its current location, the festival includes 130 shops and 42 eateries and employs hundreds.
Here are some of the 270 comments from the Facebook post by Smith:
- I really like to topography of the current location – and all the shade. From looking at pictures of other Faires it’s easy to see how special your location is.
- Please, please, please! Don’t move! Although there are a couple Renaissance Faires closer to where I live, I’ll only go to your location because of the atmosphere. No where else can I feel I’ve escaped back in time. I love the rolling hills and the forest even though it’s harder to navigate now with arthritis. It’s the closet thing to Middle Earth! It’s a family tradition now. To move would be like selling the family manor home for an apartment in the city!
- I hope the faire doesn’t move, but can understand the other side of it too. I love the hills and the shady trees, the whole atmosphere, and the coming back every year to your faire family and the familiar home. I live nearby and have worked there for 15 years, so I would be sad to see it go. It’s exciting every year to watch slowly coming back to life, and bittersweet to see it slowly become a ghost town again. By the last weekend, I’m usually ready to have my weekends back! As far as the traffic goes – it’s generally only the last 3 weekends that traffic gets really crazy. I’m also worried for many of the vendors who are also old friends, and may not be able to afford to build new booths at a new site. Oh well, whatever happens, happens!
There are other possibilities for a potential move, including the old Crownsville Hospital Center site — just up the road from the festival’s current location.