Greetings, faithful readers! Your TRF blogger stumbled upon this excellent post written about us, by a young and adventurous woman named Ami. We sought her permission to share the story of her first visit to TRF right here!

As a New Year resolution, Ami had set herself a long list of challenges, here’s how resolution #41 went. And go visit her blog, she seems like a really cool young woman!

 

 

October is always a very interesting month for me. The weather’s changing, people are gearing up for the holidays, and for whatever reason it always plays host to some of my grandest adventures.  It has ever since I was little, and this year is no different.

Resolution #41: Go to a Renaissance Festival

October also marks the beginning of the Texas Renaissance Festival season so Dru and I headed out for opening weekend.  And, as with anything you do with Dru, if you’re gonna do something you’re going to go all out. With the help of a mutual friend, we got a Ren Faire costume together for me (since exactly none of my clothes really fit the bill) including a rib-cracking corset, poofy sleeves, stockings and my very own pair of pirate boots.

Going all out also means not just going for the day and going back to the comfort of your home at night.  Nope, it means packing up your tent and heading out to the campgrounds for the weekend, because while the faire itself is magnificent, there’s a whole other facet to the faire experience out on the campgrounds.

The camping situation reminds me a lot of the burn we went to a couple of months ago (Orfunner).  Tons of people, some in costume, some half naked, all in varying stages of inebriation. While I’ve never been the “party girl” type, I’m really starting to enjoy these kinds of events. It’s not so much the party aspect as it is HUGE gathering of people bonding over a common interest.  Its not just any campground, with unrelated pockets of strangers who want nothing to do with each other.  Everyone is there for the same reason and are closer because of it. It’s slightly less “We love everyone!” than Orfunner and slightly more “Does anyone know where I can get some [insert intoxicating substance here].”  With a similar amount of drum circle. But, I honestly just love anywhere that I can find like-minded people, which I’m learning is hard to do just anywhere these days.

Saturday morning we woke up early to get into costume and get ready to head into the actual faire grounds.  Lesson One: Bring coffee with you. For god’s sake. Especially if you’re an addict like me.  I really hope to invest in a camping coffee maker one day, but this time around we invested in some of those bottled cappuccino things in order to avoid the terrifying uncertainty around coffee availability like we encountered at Orfunner.  But, I digress.

Lesson Two: Corsets kind of suck, but Jesus Christ your waist will never look so good. I’m not exaggerating.  I let Dru lace me into my corset and immediately lost probably 5 inches from my waist.  This was thrilling…for the 17 steps it took me to get from the tent to the car, when suddenly I succumbed to a bout of claustrophobia and the familiar and terrifying cold, clammy feeling of nearing unconsciousness.  Now I know why you never see anyone smiling in renaissance era portraits.  I had to have him loosen my corset at least 3 times before I finally felt like I’d make it through the day.  But, even with a few inches back…. I still love the thing.

Voila, the complete outfits:

Now, inside the faire grounds is a whole other world that I can’t even really compare to anything else.  I suppose it’s the point to be transported back in time, and they definitely succeed.  I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to walk through an entrance to find yourself surrounded by people calling you “my lady,” and trying to sell you flowers and swords and jewels. …Is the what the renaissance was like?  I would like to go there please. Although I’m sure the renaissance was devoid of things like fairies, demons and an abundance of giant pickles, cotton candy and fried everything, so…maybe I’ll just stick with the festival instead.

We caught some shows.  Adam Crack the fire whip master:

And, a man who would gladly take your money to humiliate and insult you or your friends.  …I would have been crushed…so I didn’t stick around for that one.  I’m a little sensitive.

Tried our hand at some archery.

And, did a LOT of window shopping. Corsets, weaponry, leather work, ceramics, jewelry, anything you could ask for, there was a shop for it. These are no dinky souvenirs, either.  The people who run these shops are seriously skilled craftsmen. Sadly, the prices on their wares also reflect that…which is why I specify ‘window shopping.’ Though I did walk away with a hand-made mug for my coffee mug collection. I couldn’t resist.  And Dru bought me a rose from a flower girl. Otherwise, we were content to browse.

There was so much to see and do that I’m sure that there was stuff that I missed.  Elephant rides. Parades. Petting zoos. Big dragon swings. There was a place where you could get your picture taken with a monkey.  Lesson Three: Bring your children to Ren Faire. It should be a requirement, kind of like Disney World. This place is magical, and seeing the looks on the children’s faces when they got to hug a fairy and cross swords with a pirate was just priceless.  I’m not a child anymore (though my inner child is alive and well) and even I got giddy at all the sights and sounds around me. After hours of walking, though, our feet were protesting loudly in our pirate boots and there was a cold front blowing in, so we decided to head back to camp for some warmer clothes, food and post-faire libations.

The group that we camped with prepared a FEAST, complete with chicken, steak, sausage, tortillas, veggies and plenty of beverage to go around.  Though we weren’t official dues-paying members of their group they were still very generous and allowed us to take part with them. There’s nothing better than a belly full of delicious camp-cooked food after a long day.

With our appetites satisfied we set out into the open campgrounds in search of adventures.  We picked up some friends from other camps and wandered a bit.  Lesson Four: There is nothing better than a gigantic bonfire on a cold night.  We hung out there for a while, watching the fire spinners and trying to absorb as much warmth as humanly possible since at this point it was dropping into the 50’s.  (Pretty freaking cold for us Texans.)  Then, we turned to the sound of chanting and cheering behind us.

“What’s going on over there?”

Giant Jenga, was the answer. You know, that Hasbro game from your childhood where you stack up the blocks and the remove and re-stack them one by one until someone knocks it over and loses? But, this was not just any giant Jenga.  This one had a twist.  There is an action written on each Jenga block, and if you play and successfully pull a block, you must do the action on the block you pulled.  As I stood and watched to get a feel for the game I watched things like…”Kiss the Game Master (the one running the game),” “Motorboat the largest breasts in the crowd” and then things as simple as “Do a cart-wheel.” Although, that last one became equally inappropriate when the person that selected it was wearing a skirt.

It wasn’t long before people started getting scared to step up and the game master started drawing people out of the crowd to play. …And of course…guess who got singled out.  Yours truly. I was thrust into the center of a crowd of fifty or more, faced with a Jenga tower that teetered precariously at even the slightest  touch. I poked at each of the blocks, to the sound of cheers, gasps and cat calls around me, trying to find one that might just give.  Finally, and very carefully I might add, I pulled a block from the stack and handed it to the Game Master.  The task on the block–my loyal readers–will remain a secret to all but me and the people in the crowd that night.  😉 I have a reputation to uphold.  But, I was a sport, and did what it said, I’ll tell you that much.  Not to mention, I got out pretty easy compared to girl immediately after me who was the unfortunate soul to knock over the stack…and let me tell you what, if you think the tasks on the blocks are scary, well, just don’t be the one to knock over the stack, okay?

Lesson Five: If you’re shy AT ALL, steer clear of the giant Jenga at TRF.

The rest of the night was spent hopping from fire to fire, hanging out with people we ran into along the way, and in general just having a fun and relaxing night. Then, as the night wound down and our joints started getting stiff with the cold, we headed back to our camp to get some sleep.

We woke to an offering of chorizo tacos and some hot coffee from the quickie mart on site, and with that, we mustered the rest of our energy to pack up and get back on the road back to the real world. Resolution…complete.  And while I don’t think I could do that every weekend all season like some of the more serious Rennies, I can’t wait until my next Ren Faire experience.  I hear Sherwood Forest Faire is closer to Austin and coming up pretty soon!

When I was a little girl, I didn’t really know about fairies. It’s hard to imagine now, but my parents weren’t especially imaginative. Story telling was not a value in my house, nor was whimsy. So when I visited my first Renaissance festival at the age of 32, I found enchantment and story telling of all sorts. This fairy house was made by one of our Festival patrons, I just love it. TRF and places like it welcome all who have lively imagination and a wish for adventure.

Happy Spring Equinox, friends, and may magic find you today!

Just a few days ago, one of our vendors stopped in the office to say hello. He lives in North Dakota when he’s not working our (or others) festival. He says it’s 10 degrees below zero there!

So I went out walking on our site. It was chilly for a south Texas winter day, but I had a jacket on (and by jacket I mean just a fleece hoodie) and encountered, among the brown, dormant plants, little pockets of color. Enjoy these little fluffs of joy during the off season, courtesy of Mother Nature.

 

On November 6th and 7th, 63,000 students and educators came from all over the southeast Texas region, and even from Louisiana and Oklahoma, to participate in School Days, an event which is educationally focused.

We have competitions in theatre, music, art, science, essay, poetry, costume, and journalism. We are thrilled to present the work of the winners in journalism. What follows is news stories and photos entered from many really talented students. We are thrilled to work with such awesome kids and their teachers.

(Photo at top of page: FLYING HIGH. Seniors Hollie Oney, Mia Lim, and Robyn Pless scream in excitement as they are let loose to swing. Choir and yearbook staff members enjoy a day filled of activities each year at Ren Fest. “With this being my last year of going to Ren Fest, I wanted to make the most of it,” Lim said. “The swing was the best part, it went higher than I thought.” by Yazmine Carter, Willis HS, Action Photo, 1st Place)

Local Teenager Discovered Scouring Premises To Quench Her Need For A Salty      Snack         

By Lily-Cate Cheshire, Barbers Hill MS South

          Tattered and famished, a young woman, Victoria Ellen Vancleave to be exact, was on a treacherous search for something to please her taste buds. At the 2018 Texas Renaissance Festival with thousands of attendees, Victoria, or Tori as her compadres call her, had an aching hunger for something in particular, soft, warm, and luxurious. Pretzels. With a furrowed brow, Tori wandered the streets of the realistically medieval town. Many people went up to her and inquired upon the confused expression which was hers. This, which was ultimately distracting, happened to draw my attention.

After approaching Ms.Vancleave, I was informed of her misfortune. Immediately, I questioned why she owned a frustrated face. She told me that she was seeking for something specific. After talking for a bit more, I received the opportunity to ask what she had been trying to find. “Pretzel dude,” she responded. Her eyes focused blankly while her expression represented her emotionless stare. Curious as always, I required a response to my question, why did Ms.Vancleave wish to maintain a pretzel, and where did she hear of the squishy snack? A few characters of the festival approached us two, for they were curious upon our faces’ confusion, as well. “I ain’t seen no ‘retzel man ‘round ‘ere much, m’lady,” a woman politely stated to help. Eventually and after several hours of searching while going about our day, Tori and I came across a little man with a smirk on his face. Placed upon his shoulder, a vibrantly red stand was containing a few pretzels. Unfortunately, flies were swarming across and picking at the feast they had come across. Though it wasn’t the most fortunate event, Tori decided she was a content young woman and could do without this once yummy treat.

This should matter to each and everyone of us because everyone, to a certain extent, can relate to Ms.Vancleave. We’ve all been searching for something at one point or another, and of course we’ve all been disappointed. Just like everyone else, Tori had a want for something. Therefore, we are able to relate to her and should feel empathy towards her. For all you know, you might just be in her exact shoes one day. Pretzel and all. (middle school news story winner, first place)

A Look into the Past 

By Cori Eckert, Willis High School

            Students from Willis High School Media took a day off from the classroom to experience the 38th annual Renaissance Festival. Members of the school newspaper, yearbook, and KatNews staffs attended the festival to get a hands-on look at Renaissance culture.

The students saw shows such as The Fire Whip Show, The Birds of Prey show, and Arsene the magician.

“That guy that was juggling at the magic show was so cool,” sophomore Jace Halbadier said. “I thought that was amazing, but when he added fire it took it to a whole different level.”

Students also were able to observe orchestras and choirs from other schools perform. The media classes got to see the various art forms through music.

“I listened to a lot of the choirs and orchestras,” senior Lauren McClatchy said. “Every time I walked by my group would stop and listen for a few minutes. There was a lot of talent from the students that were the same age as me.”

woodcreekmiddleschool_44426763_img_e82941

“The Renaissance is very mysterious.” by Ambeli Vega, Woodcreek MS, portrait, 1st place

Even in the heat, the actors and workers at the Ren Fest were in full costume and character. Students were taken back in time with the elaborate decorations and language.

“Everything was modeled after the Renaissance period, even the modern day things,” senior Collyn Sebastian said. “One of the workers said, ‘Would you like your receipt, m’lady?’ and I thought that was really cool. They were so in character.”

The show of exotic birds was a big hit for the high school students. The handler showed the birds eating, flying and catching prey. The different species of birds allowed students to experience other parts of the world in less than an hour.

“Whenever one of the birds caught the leather prey upside down, I was really shocked,” senior Bradley Dodd said. “Having a front row view to these amazing birds was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.”

With cameras full of pictures, journals full of notes, and stomachs full with turkey legs, the media students of Willis High School took the bus back to school with new knowledge. The experience gave them a new look at what the Renaissance culture was like while having fun and learning with their classmates.

“I think the Ren Fest helped me to not only look into the past, but see different cultures as well,” senior Shelby McVey said. “Between the German pottery and the Polish food, this experience is something I will never forget. It opened my mind to a variety of so many new things and I’m so glad I got to do it with my friends.” (high school story winner, 1st place)

As I have written before, one of my best things about working at TRF year round is that I get to walk the grounds as much as I like. So, several times a week, I tie on my Nikes and head out on site. Walking it reminds me of all the reasons I love the place.

My favorite spot to perambulate? The Magic Garden.

My second year on cast, 2001, the scenario story was written around the opening of the Magic Garden, old-timers may remember it: A fairy princess, Marigold,  loved a mortal, Queen Mab disapproved and cast a spell that forced the fairy princess to marry a goblin prince. There was an enchanted ending, though, and Marigold married the prince of her dreams. I played Mab, it was so fun! I have played fairies Titania and Hush in the years since, and I loved perching on a giant mushroom or napping while leaning against a fish statue.

There used to be a story that a “dark presence” hovered at the back of the garden, and to be honest, I felt it. But I think it’s been banished by all the happy folks who walk, kids who play, and couples who wed. Now the energy just feels sweet.

There’s unusual art, carved stone, and lush tree cover. On a quiet day, you hear birds chirping and singing. If you look carefully, there are still ribbons tied to branches by fairies.

Blessed be!

 

Photos by Steven David, Houston Event Photography

AAron

Photo by Rosa de Armanno

“I’ve been attending TRF with various groups of friends since 1996.  There’s about a dozen different costumes I rotate through; a Dragon, Gandalf The White, Aragorn, Nazgûl, and several generic rogues & swashbucklers — although Skeletor is by far my favorite!  I get so many people who want me to pose for photos. Someone once asked me what I liked about going to TRF, and I believe my answer was:  ‘The shows, the shops & all the cool stuff I can buy, and just walking around enjoying the atmosphere.  So basically . . . everything!'” (Austin, TX)

Michael CottenMichael Cotten says, “My first experience at TRF was in 1995. I loved it but lived too far away to make yearly visits practical. In 2010 I attended again as a parent chaperone for my son’s history class. We have been going as a family every year since. Most years we make two trips. Now making Celtic Christmas each year has become a family tradition.”

John Patton

“My son and I visited TRF the first time 11/9/12. We live close to another fair South of Dallas and were encouraged to visit by lots of friends there. We were not disappointed. The huge camp ground, the expansive fair grounds, the vast number and variety of vendors, and almost unlimited number of food and drink providers. Everything is bigger in Texas. We have camped and visited every year since.” -John Patton, Hillsboro, TX

Amanda

Amanda, Jonathan and Sullivan Drake

My family has a long history at Texas Ren Fest. When they were in college at Texas A&M, my parents worked at some of the first years of the fest. My dad helped build some of the buildings near the entrance that are still there, and I remember admiring a pic of my mom in her “wench” costume. I grew up attending with my family. My husband and I have been attending since I was an Aggie myself, and now we bring our son. We’ve added camping to our annual trips and look forward to it every year. Our best friends that come every year now too also have their own little one to bring along and we both can’t wait to buy little costumes!

 

Jill

Jill Satterwhite

Long ago, and a time faraway I didn’t live in Texas, but as soon as I made it Texas and settled in I found The Kingdom. My family of 6, husband and 4 sons didn’t always wear garb/costumes. Started out going once or twice a year…wearing “Jill-Made” hooded cloaks. Fast forward to when TRF found social media; I went to every event, every pub crawl for a couple years..bringing sons, husband, friends.  I started sewing  pouches for belts. Then costumes for the family..pirate, steampunk, Scottish, then costumes on commission. When the first King’s Masquerade was announced. Costume panic arrived. 12…of my costumes. Twelve! Of my peoples and friends were wearing my creations! I was sewing one girl in her dress in the campgrounds the night of Masquerade.  I have been on every TRF Cruise. Such Fun!!  I am a 1st year Royal Ambassador of TRF! I am truly humbled I was picked. Now have a garb/costumes for every weekend. Yes all 9!   Excited for the upcoming year and more Texas Renaissance Festival to come.

TRF has awesome fans. Lots of fans come in shorts and tee shirts, comfy in their sneakers, and they have a fantastic time! We love those folks! But there’s another element of people, they’re called “Playtrons” in our corner of the world. They’re the ones who not only wear costumes, but they really embrace the whole idea of playing into the story- they create personas with names and histories, they get lots of photos taken, and they add a lot of color and spice to the Ren Fest atmosphere. We asked for Playtrons to introduce themselves.

Pictured above is Rachel Rodriguez, here’s how she describes her love for TRF:

“My name is Rachel Rodriguez, and I have been attending the renaissance festival for most of my life. Much of my childhood was defined by my love of fantasy and belief in fairies. The Texas Renaissance Festival was my heart’s true home: getting little gifts from the green puppet dragon (who my sister and I swore was real), eating turkey legs as big as our heads, and getting my first costume. The festival was the perfect distraction when my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer – a magical place where the real world melted away. Going at least twice is now a tradition. This past year my group was ecstatic about the Heroes and villains cosplay weekend, and attended as characters from “Once Upon a Time,” and did themed fairy costumes for our second trip.

Our first stop at the fair is always Sound and Fury. “Hamlet and Juliet” is the best! We never miss the Fire Whip show, and my husband has been chosen for the vasectomy trick, and sassed Adam Winrich the whole time, much to the amusement of the crowd.

Allison

“My name is Alli- I’ve been attending renfest for the past 3 years with a huge group of friends. I travel from NY and we camp out every year- and we NEVER miss the phantom bells. Every year more people join our group. I attended as lady milisandra and a barbarian in the past- but I plan on doing Aquaman this year. I made and designed the entire costume myself (I’m into cosplay -AlliZCosplay) and i can’t wait for the renfest crowd to see my version of Arthur Curry. I think my scale mail will be well received. Looking forward to coming this year!!!”

Kayla P.

“My name is Kayla Pawlyshyn. I am a writer. I have been doing this since I was 16, I am 24 now. My cos name is Captain Jessica Tech. I have hand crafted my outfits as being a captain. Each year they change or I add on. I always loved the joys of escaping life and jumping into character. ‘Life is too short to stay upon the shore, so set sail and have a grand adventure.'”-kdp

Heather

Photo by Pedro Mata

“I have been going to the faire for quite sometime as just a patron with my family. But for the past 4 years, we have been faithfully appearing every weekend … even in the relentless rain. We have even been participants of school days for the past three years. For these last two years (and this coming year as well) I could be seen walking about dressed as Lady Loki. Last year (and thankful returning to the cast again this year) my three oldest (Steven, Garrett, and Patricia) became members of the cast, so I am not only a Playtron but a cast Mom as well.” -Heather Terpstra, Cypress, TX

Kathryn

Photo by Moon Dawg

“I have been a playtron/patron for many many years. My first TRF was when I was 14 and I fell in love. I have been there every year for the last 15 and my son has been every year of his life. We love it and camp just to be able to spend more time.” Kathryn Graham and son, Charles. (Houston, TX)

Ronita

Ronita Pitts says, “Last year it was VIXEN THE VICIOUS!! Year before that it was Maiden Roni keeper of the Royal Hounds!! I was introduced to the Faire several years ago and haven’t stopped enjoying it since! Where else can you let down your hair, be someone completely different, and still all celebrate our differences with fun & Merriment!!” (Houston, TX)

Mary

“My name is Mary Lee Horner and I am a Texas Ren Fest Playtron. I have been attending Ren Fest for almost 15 years along with 10-15 of my family members and friends. It is always one of the highlights of my year to go to three, four, sometimes five weekends of faire. (Work and life permitting) I have bins in my house dedicated to my personalities of faire. And every year I have the best time trying to find ways to improve upon my Faire Wear. I have been a pirate, a witch, a satyress, a wench, a priestess, a rogue, and a barbarian.
Faire is my second home, where I can walk among people who don’t judge, who are full of life and joy, who welcome everyone from all walks of life. The one thing that stops me from trying out to work at Ren Fest is my own job, otherwise I would practically live there. This is my passion, one of my loves in this life. Being at Faire has always brought the most joy to me. So much so that I have brought most of my family and friends into this world of Faire. We don’t hold back when it comes to what we become at Ren Fest.
I also have to thank you for being there for so many people and bringing so much happiness to us. What in the world would we do without the Texas Renaissance Festival?” (Cypress, TX)

Mary’s right- what would we do? All of us here at TRF love where we work. We love the Festival, and we are glad to share that love with you.

Next time, meet some of our playtron gents!