Americans have an odd penchant for reenactments and not just of American history.  Renaissance festivals (or faires) are popular across the country.  Much like a state fair, there is usually only one or two faires in a state, each normally running five to six weeks.  The schedules are staggered so that performers can travel from faire to faire.  You might see one performance in Texas in May and then again in Colorado in June. Some acts travel all across the country over the course of the year. Some may perform only at certain faires or for certain months. The same is true with vendors. Some may be local merchants with a presence at the faire or they may travel from faire to faire over the year.

The time period is usually that of Henry the VIII and most have themed weekends.  Many of the themed weekends involve visits to the King by the royalty and courtiers of other countries.  For instance, many faires will have a "Highland Games" weekend during which the Scottish come to visit and compete in games.  No matter what the weekend is themed, there is generally jousting.  Like the performers and vendors, the jousters are in a class of their own being trained and certified before being allowed to joust and they tend to "make the circuit" going from faire to faire.

Many, if not most of the festivals, have permanent grounds that may or may not be used during the off-season.  For instance, Scarborough Renaissance Faire in Waxahachie, Texas has a second season when the park re-opens as Screams for the Halloween season.  These faires with permanent grounds generally have great deal of parking that may or may not have roads.  They will have permanent buildings which are in many cases actually built/maintained and owned by the vendors who inhabit or sublet them during season.  In most cases, they will have ATMs on the grounds.  Most vendors take Mastercard and Visa but in almost all cases the food courts take cash only.

The performers, who represent the King and Queen and the courtiers, as well as some of the peasantry, will normally be locals.  Great pains are taken to recreate the dress of the period and staff will avoid anachronisms.  However, a large number of those in attendance and in "garb" are simply local enthusiasts who have invested according to their budget.  From pirates to knights in plate armor, and a few mythological creatures to boot, there is no telling what you will see.

Typical goods vended at the faires are period clothing, swords, daggers and bows, pottery, jewelry, soaps and incense, various types of artwork and leather goods with a medieval theme. Swords and daggers can be worn by attendees at the faires but must be "peace-bound" so that they can not be readily drawn.

A list of faires scheduled by state can be found at http://www.renfaire.com/Sites/state.html. Some are larger than others. Some are older than others.  Any uniformity from faire to faire is strictly due to the performers and the mentality.  If you would like to attend a renaissance faire on your next trip, you should ask in the relevant state forum for more specific information on that faire.