Ode to a Lost Ren Fest
I’ll see no orcs on cell phones
I’ll taste no London Broil
I’ll hear no quotes from Game of Thrones
I’ll put away my fencing foil
The turkey legs are cold
The beer kegs have run dry
The Queen’s hung up her crown
The jester’s starting to cry
The Tortuga Twins went home
No crossbows will be shot
No mermaids, centaurs and no gnomes
The Renaissance Fest will happen not
This year has taken many things from us. Some of them have been trivial. Far too many have been tragic. One that’s in between is yesterday’s announcement that the 2020 Carolina Renaissance Festival has been canceled entirely. On the face of it, this may seem like a frivolity. It may seem like I’m making more than is necessary. But, for me, this one is personal.
In 1999, I was given free tickets (AND VIP PARKING PASSES!) to the Ren Fest. Almost as a joke, I asked the woman who’d become my wife to go with me. It was our first date. (Aaaaaaaad … insert joke here, but, as I tell my kids, that date is still going strong.) We’ve returned to the festival every year for the past 20 years. Yeah, this isn’t life-threatening news. Yes, it’s historically confusing to see Jack Sparrow and He-Man having a conversation with a medieval Boba Fett and Doctor Who about Fortnite. But, it’s our tradition.
More importantly, it’s how many of the creatives who travel from festival to festival – as musicians, jugglers, performers, artisans and more – make their living. This isn’t a small decision for them. They’re struggling to figure out how to pay their bills this year. It may also seem silly to some, but thousands of talented cosplayers flex their innovative muscles and spend countless hours designing, building and sewing their costumes to show them off and compare notes with their fellows. They’re having a really bad day, too.
So, mark this down on your calendar. When the Renaissance Festival returns in October 2021, we expect you there, hoisting a giant turkey leg, polishing off a flagon of mead and issuing a hearty “Huzzah!” at the considerable creative talents needed to pull off this amazing spectacle year after year.
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