From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tennessee Renaissance Festival 2009

Another memorable Tenn-Renn


It rained Friday night but the clouds seemed to be dissipating on Saturday morning. We rendezvoused at the Clarksville Books-A-Million and took two cars to the Tennessee Renaissance Festival. Isaac drove the guys, and the girls rode with me.  (At left: Taurus at Books-A-Million, wearing his kilt and his Indiana Jones hat.)

One glance at the Tenn-Renn grounds told us that an excess of rain had fallen recently. The grassy field that serves as parking lot was a maze of muddy tire tracks. "Park at your own risk," signs along the edge of the field warned. (The real meaning of the signs: Tenn-Renn will not get your car out of the mud for you.)

We drove into the field and parked as directed in a long double-row of cars, half-a-dozen rows from the bottom. Then we walked down the long hill to the ticket booths and fair gates, avoiding the mud as much as possible.

The fairgoers were enjoying the shows, food, shopping, and other attractions. It was Pirate Weekend and many people were wearing pirate garb (ranging from slightly to seriously piratical.) I didn't see as many people costumed as fantasy and mythical characters as I've seen previously.

All of the streets at Tenn Renn are graveled. Many of them were a little wet, and some of them were muddy. The heavy foot traffic around the tents in the market brought lots of saturated soil to the surface. The maintenance people had tossed wood chips and straw on the muddiest spots. Still, our shoes were soon splashed and speckled with mud, and we lifted our long skirts to try to keep them dry.

Some of the sights and wonders at this year's Renn Faire:


Unfortunately, I didn't get any photos of either my garb or Keely's. I made and wore a silvery linen dress that is long and medievalish. Keely made and wore a black skirt with a beautiful copper-colored bodice.

The weather goes bad


After wandering through the market for a while, we decided to go to a couple of the shows. Afterward, we walked to the area beside the jousting field, and as we left the cover of the trees, I noticed a very large, dark cloud that was nearly overhead. I decided to head for the car and Annie decided to go with me.

As we headed for the front gate, it began to sprinkle. We heard a policeman urging people to leave immediately. A little boy, clutching his umbrella, started to cry. His dad called him back to the shelter of the trees. His grandma said the trees weren't safe and they should head for the car. I don't know what they decided to do.

By the time we got to the car, it was raining steadily. Within a few minutes, it was raining much harder. Very soon, the rest of our group, except Castille, joined us at the cars.

Annie fished in the trunk from the back seat and hauled out our bags. Behind sheets of rain on the car windows, we girls squirmed out of our wet garb and put on our dry street clothes. This was not easy, but it was worth the effort.

Gusts of rain blew against the car. We saw lightning and heard crashes of thunder. We worried about Castille. We hoped he had found shelter and that he wasn't out in the storm, looking for the car.

We also worried about how we would ever drive out of the field. Every now and then, someone decided to leave and drove his car out of its parking place. Most of them paused in the mud. (Why?! We couldn't understand it!) In a futile effort to start moving again, the drivers stepped on the gas and spun the tires wildly. This made the loblolly in the exit route larger, deeper, and juicier. Finally, the people in the back seat would get out and push the car to firmer ground, getting terribly mud-splattered in the process.

Our exit


The rainfall finally dwindled to a steady sprinkle, and we spotted Castille coming up the hill. Taurus got out of the car to reconnoiter. He decided that we should drive diagonally across the mudpit to a grassy spot; from there, cut across to another grassy spot; and from there, stay on the grass directly behind a line of parked cars until we reached the gravel road. We followed his directions and drove out with no trouble at all.

And Castille? He had waited out the storm inside a pavilion and watched a couple of performances. The performers, poor souls, worked in the rain. The stage was not covered by the roof. It seems that this made the belly dancing quite interesting. (Oh, my.)

Gentle reader, if you are following these events with bated breath, please relax. The story becomes less exciting now. We stopped at a gas station so the guys could change their clothes. They were too tall to change inside Isaac's little car. Then we went to Opry Mills Mall in Nashville and spent several hours shopping.

When we got back to Clarksville, we went to IHOP to eat. The food wasn't very good, but we were too tired to fuss much about it. From there, everyone went home in the car he or she had driven there. Isaac and I got home about 11 PM. When I went to bed at midnight, Dennis asked, "How was the Renn Faire?" I was too exhausted to go into detail. "We made it," I said.

Related articles in the Prairie Bluestem archives:
Tennessee Renaissance Festival 2008
Tennessee Renaissance Festival 2007
Tennessee Renaissance Festival 2006

4 comments:

Mark said...

It sounds like fun. It also sounds like there were several events that would have been fun to watch, like the belly dancing and the change clothes in the car routine.

Genevieve said...

It's fairly common at Renn Fairs and other garb events to see people changing clothes in the parking lot before they head home. This might be funny to watch but it is generally not very immodest.

When you're standing up and you're not wet, it's easy to pull on slacks and then to slip on a shirt before taking off the long dress completely. Sometimes, people are already wearing shorts under their garb.

We changed clothes like that in the car, but it's a struggle when you're sitting down, don't have much space, and your clothes are wet.

Mark said...

I was picturing something like a Chinese (not politically correct, I know) fire drill when I imagined the clothes change in the car. And please don't tell me it wasn't like that. My wife gets mad at me when she says something and I drift off into neverland imagining how funny it could be under the right circumstances. My internal world is usually funnier than the real world. To me, at least.

Genevieve said...

Actually, Mark, it was a lot like a Chinese fire drill. I had to lay the driver's side seat back and even then, could hardly get the wet clothing to budge.

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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

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