In search of a little enlightenment this weekend? The Historical Figures Foundation presents the first Carnevale Ventura, a two-day event featuring Renaissance-era costumes, al fresco refreshments and a lecture by the master of the historical model, George Stuart. Beginning on Saturday, Feb. 9, 10 a.m.,  in downtown Ventura’s Mission Park, visitors will be treated to a free Renaissance-style faire that will include a costume contest, lively performers and re-enactors, and six “themed” rooms.

The Italian Renaissance encompassed a period spanning from the fourteenth into the sixteenth centuries, inspiring countless innovations in science, art and education. According to Leroy Becker, chairman of the Ventura Carnevale Commission, this Carnevale was largely-inspired by the mythology surrounding the notorious Borgia family. “We wanted to do something in this style and it just clicked, especially with two Borgia series on television. We decided to home in on that period and specialize in the Renaissance.” The Borgia family, which produced two popes through very questionable means from the late 1400s to the 1500s, still intrigues observers in the 21st century. This year, the House of Borgia takes center stage as raconteur George Stuart will present his newest historical monologue, “The Despicable Borgias,” at The Clocktower Inn on Saturday at 1:30 p.m.

George Stuart, working from his studio in Ojai over the last 50 years, is renowned for his scale models of hundreds of historical figures, many of which are on permanent display in the Museum of Ventura County. Four scale re-creations of important members of the House of Borgia, including Rodrigo Borgia (later Pope Alexander VI) and notorious poisoner Lucretia Borgia, will complement Stuart’s lecture. Carnevale re-enactors of the Borgias, donning full regalia, will be in attendance to refute some of Stuart’s (and history’s) more severe allegations, turning the event into something of a full-scale dialogue.

Saturday evening will conclude with the Masquerade Ball, also at the Clocktower Inn, from 7:30-11:30 p.m., a family-friendly event where Renaissance duds are mandatory as participants are automatically entered into a costume contest. Tickets are available in advance online and at the door. Chairman Leroy Becker is excited about the cavalcade of delights, and hopes that attendees will enjoy the three-part Carnevale.

 “Audiences will be able to see quite a few very authentic costumes and have a little fun learning history and the Renaissance, which, I think, was the most exciting period in human history,” he said.

Admission to the Renaissance Faire (not to be confused with “Ren Fairs,” which usually include humongous turkey legs and lots of chain mail) is free of charge and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9;  and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 10.  The lecture “The Despicable Borgias” is $10 if purchased online and $15 at the door at The Clocktower Inn on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. and is expected to reach capacity early. The Masquerade Ball, also at the Clocktower Inn, begins at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday and is expected to conclude at 11:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 online and $50 at the door with proceeds going to the nonprofit Historical Figures Foundation.

For tickets and more information about Carnevale Ventura, please visit and