Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tennessee Renaissance Festival 2013

Our day at Tenn-Renn

Welcome to Covington Glen!

We made our annual visit to the Tennessee Renaissance Festival on the third Sunday of May this year. Isaac, Rachel, and I arrived at the festival so early that we were able to park in the first row, directly in front of the gates.

Soon after we bought our wristbands, it was time for the faire to begin. To our surprise, the Queen and court assembled for an opening ceremony in front of the gates. They probably do this every morning of the faire, but it was new to us.

Fairies at play
A royal lineup
Talented minstrels
Inside the front gate, the fairies were already busily blowing bubbles. Isaac and Rachel wandered away, and I sat down to wait for Keely and Taurus who were a few minutes behind us. Some of the nobility stood nearby and observed the arrival of the day's guests.

A wizard and family put on
wristbands at the fair entrance.
When Keely called to tell me they had arrived, I went back to the ticket line to meet them and share my spray-on sun block. At the entrance to the festival, workers were checking armbands and looking carefully inside every bag. Many uniformed members of the sheriff's department were present throughout the day, and security seemed to be a little tighter than in the past.

Castle Gwynn is about a mile from the festival grounds. It was built by and belongs to the couple who founded the Tennessee Renaissance Festival. A history of the construction of Castle Gwynn notes that it was featured in a Taylor Swift music video.

Isaac and Rachel took the castle tour this year. Maybe I'll go next year. (I say this every year!)

Some of the new iron sculptures

The iron sculptures around the festival grounds are new this year. They fit nicely into the landscape, in sort of a rusty, gothic, mythic way.

Trees line the walkways of the upper market area and the temperature is always markedly cooler there than in the sunny lower market area near the arena. I enjoy the native vegetation, along with the other sights of the Renaissance village. This year, I can report that at least one persimmon tree grows in Covington Glen. I also noticed a curious fern rooted into a tree trunk and a vine that looked to me like poison ivy. I'm sure the grounds crew tries to keep the poison ivy under control, and this seedling just missed their attention.

Tenn Renn has some free activities for children, along with rides, etc. that they can buy. They can also participate in a costume contest and be knighted (or ladied) by the Queen. One little fellow just couldn't resist poking someone with his sword, so he wisely picked on someone his own size. The ladies he was with (and many other people) were wearing pirate-ish garb, because it was Pirate Weekend.

I bought a walking stick here.

Merchants' tents and booths line both sides of the walkways in the market area. They sell a variety of more-or-less renaissance-themed items-- your name on a grain of rice, tapestries, fragrant oils and soaps, swords and knives, costumes, head and hair gear, jewelry, walking sticks, elf ears, pottery, glass, metal and leather work, etc. Along with the goods. there are services such as hair braiding, face painting, henna tattoos, fortune telling, and camel rides.

This girl traveled the entire faire
with her pretzel tree.

Of course, food and drink are also offered for sale, and I certainly bought my share of ice-cold soda and water, as well as a sandwich and a bag of kettle corn. The next morning, I weighted four, (yes, four!) pounds more. How could that happen?!

I always wonder how the Queen (played by Kimberly Stockton) and the court endure their heavy costumes on hot, humid days. The queen's dresses weigh up to 20 pounds each! She designs and sews her own costumes, based on paintings of the Renaissance period.

In Covington Glen (the setting of the Tennessee Renaissance Festival,) the cast of characters includes nobility, peasants, and fantasy creatures (the fairies, the ogre, etc.) The players auditioned in February and began practicing in March. 

The peasants of Coventry Glen have much lighter costumes. If the girls have full-length skirts, they often tie or tuck them up, and the guys often have pants that are less than full-length. The merchants all dress in garb, too; it's probably required of them and good for sales. But by far, the largest group of costume wearers are the "playtrons"-- the ticket-buying patrons of Tenn Renn who wear their garb just because it's fun.

No one in our group dressed in costume for the festival for the first time ever. I found that I missed the costume-wearing aspect of the event, so I'll probably garb up again next year.

During our spare minutes between shopping and eating and people-watching, we enjoyed a few of the shows. The Oops Comedy Knife Throwing was amusing as always. In the photo below, some poor guy from the audience had been brought up to the stage for a bit of mild torture (no blood spilled.) Paolo Garbanzo is the performer in blue. The other knife-wielder on the stage is Giacomo the Jester from the Celtic band, Empty Hats.  (YouTube has several videos of Paolo Garbanzo and also of the Empty Hats.)

When we made our way to the lower market, the court was busy doing something in the green in front of the arena. I'm not sure what they were up to; it didn't look like human chess which is one of their usual entertainments. Earlier in the arena (inside the fence), there was a jousting tournament (horses, knights, and long poles.)

Master falconer Karen Tolson Carroll
We meandered through the merchant tents in the area and then found a seat to watch Birds of the Gauntlet, an educational demonstration by Master Falconer Karen Tolson Carroll. Most of the falcons, hawks, and owls in Kitty Carroll's show came into her care after suffering injuries that prevented them from surviving in the wild.

I always learn something new at Birds of the Gauntlet. This year, I learned that throwing scraps of food out car windows attracts mice to the highways -- which attracts hawks -- which puts them in danger of being hit by a car.

Kitty Carroll's assistant (her
husband) with a redtail hawk.

After we watched the birds, we decided to leave because most members of our little group had to work the next morning. As we passed through the exit gate, we saw our car and rejoiced again at the parking spot we had scored that morning -- no uphill hike to a distant car, hurray! What a nice way to end our Tenn-Renn experience for this year.

- - - - - - - - - -
Previous trips to Tenn Renn: Tennessee Renaissance Festival 2012
Tennessee Renaissance Festival 2011
Tennessee Renaissance Festival 2010
Tennessee Renaissance Festival 2009
Tennessee Renaissance Festival 2008
Tennessee Renaissance Festival 2007
Tennessee Renaissance Festival 2006


Stitchy Mc Floss said...

Oh such awesome pictures. I always love reading your blog posts about the Renaissance Festival!

Sounds like everyone had a great time! And after your a tired, it's always nice to see your car close by, too. :)

Blessings to you and yours always

Genevieve Netz said...

Thanks for reading, Stitchy. Yes, we had fun! That nearby parking place this year may inspire us to get an early start on our trip to the renn faire in future years too.

Collagemama said...

Time travel causes weight gain?

Genevieve Netz said...

I wish I could give some of my super ability to gain weight to my husband!

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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)

Thanks for reading.