My family went to the Tennessee Renaissance Festival for Memorial Day weekend. TRF is a large, established RenFaire, spread out over acres and acres of hilly woodland. 2018 is their 33rd year. There are six stages for entertainers, plus the tournament field for the jousting and the falconry show. There are over seventy artisans and vendors. It’s not physically possible to see it all in one day, so we didn’t try.
While the TRF sells a special three-day pass available for Memorial Day weekend, we decided that three days of RenFaire would be too much, even for us (not to mention too expensive). So Friday after work (half-day subbing job, high school special ed) we headed east to Rutherford County. TRF is actually in Williamson County, but so close to the county line that it’s easier to come at it from Murfreesboro than Franklin.
Saturday morning we drove to the Tennessee Renaissance Festival. Now that my husband uses a cane, we were able to park in the handicapped parking row. We greeted the queen. (Kimberly Stock, who plays Queen Elizabeth at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival, is the cast director for the Mid-South Renaissance Faire.) We glanced at the vendors we passed on the way to the tournament field. There are three jousts daily, but with rain predicted for that afternoon, we decided to watch the first joust, before the rain started or it got too hot. We went to the falconry show, did a little window shopping, then attended the joust. Then we went to the knife-throwing show, starring juggler Paolo Garbanzo and minstrel Giacomo the Jester (who’s a pretty decent juggler himself.) Then we went to lunch: pizza for the kids, chicken-and-rice soup in bread bowls for the adults.
After lunch we did some shopping (both window and actual) and went to some more shows. There were plenty of shows, some I loved, some not to my taste, and a few I didn’t get to see.
And a talented harper who was busking near the clothing vendors — I never got her name, and she had no CDs for sale, but she was good.
Shows and Performances
Ik the Troll and the Fairies
DaVinci Brothers Comedy Operas
Covington Glen Variety Show
I sold two copies of my book, R is for Renaissance Faire, to Pigasus Books. I hope he likes them enough to order more copies. He had some wonderful books I wanted, but we went overbudget on other things, so I couldn’t afford them.
It rained that afternoon, so we took refuge at the Beer Garden, where the Secret Commonwealth was playing. Unfortunately, so did a lot of other people, who were more interested in talking to each other than hearing a Celtic folk band.
I planned on shopping for four things: a hair pin or barrette, a new chemise, jewelry, and music. I was hoping for the sort of leather barrette that Douglas Leather used to sell, but Mr. Douglas wasn’t there this year. However, I found some very pretty hairpins at Lilla Rose. I found a two-dollar ring that fit well and looked pretty; I forget the vendor’s name. At Fiona’s Fineries, I found a butternut chemise that complements my blue overdress with the plaid skirt and looks good with my brown bodice. As for music, there were far more CDs than I could afford.
Sunday we went on the castle tour. Mike Freeman, who owns the fairsite, has been building his own castle for years. It’s still not finished, but he and his family live in Castle Gwyn.
Sunday we saw more shows (still didn’t manage to get all of them) and my husband and I tried our hand at archery. We did a little more window shopping. There were far too many vendors to list: artists and artisans, candle makers and candy sellers, bootmakers and booksellers, clothiers, potters, woodworkers, toymakers.
Sunday I had the chicken wrap (the bone surprised me) and my husband had a cheeseburger. The kids had pizza again. My husband and I also split an apple strudel. We heard from other people that the fish and chips were very good, but to avoid the shepherd’s pie.
We had a good time, and if I ever won the lottery I would go for the entire Memorial Day weekend and be a spending fool. New gowns, new hats, real jewelry instead of costume jewelry, elf ears, a sword or maybe a bodice knife, artwork, and a ton of books and CDs.
The 33rd annual Tennessee Renaissance Festival is done. The 4th annual Mid-South Renaissance Faire will be the middle two weekends of October.
If you want to buy a copy of R is for Renaissance Faire, click here for an unautographed copy, or come to the Mid-South Renaissance Faire in Millington, TN (just north of Memphis) this fall for an autographed copy.