I went to the Southern California Renaissance Faire for the first time on Sunday. I was lucky enough to get invited by my friend, the Bristol costumer, who had gotten free tickets (score!). I had been warned by many, many people not to expect much, but I went into it opened minded. Every faire deserves the chance to prove itself;)
There were definite differences. The shape of the faire, for one, was a bit strange: I'm used to doing a circuit and having multiple little streets that lead off in various directions, whereas this faire is a long snake. The road could be cramped at times, and the paved roads were a little jarring (I found myself unconsciously keeping to the grass). The "buildings" are all temporary structures, tents and plywood. A lot of the stage areas had hay bales for benches. It was also sectioned: if you were looking for food, it was all in a massive food court; clothing shops were grouped together, armouries, and so forth.
There were a lot of things that felt familiar, though. The stage shows. The parade through town in the middle of the day. Catching a court dance set (in a very small space!). Passing by their version of the Duck. And, the patrons were the same; you could have transplanted the whole group to Wisconsin without any alterations;)
I wouldn't say that SoCal was in any way better than Bristol. But, it wasn't worse. It was different and familiar, I guess. Bristol will always be home, I suppose, and I will always hold it dear to my heart, but SoCal was interesting, and I can see myself going back.
*As for the assertion that it would be impossible to have a Fantastickal troupe there: not true. I saw a lot of places you could plant faeries, and it is not as bereft of greenery as I had been led to believe. I think Fantastickals would do fine there;)