The Texas Renaissance Festival
By Joan Whetzel
Of all the Renaissance Festivals around the US, Texas claims the largest and most celebrated in the nation. For eight weekends every October and November, these lush outdoor grounds come to life with more than 500 costumed performers and 8 themed villages as well as a variety of shows, shops and international foods. This year is expected to have the largest attendance ever.
Dates and Times
The Texas Renaissance Festival runs every Saturday and Sunday from the first full weekend in October through the last weekend in November which includes the Friday following Thanksgiving. The fair hours run from 9AM until dusk.
Admission and Directions
The Texas Renaissance Festival is located on 55 acres in Magnolia, Texas, about 50 miles NORTHWEST of Houston. Maps and directions are available on the Texas Renaissance Festival website at: http://www.texrenfest.com/
One day ticket prices are $20 for Adults and $12 for Children, though Sunday prices are a little cheaper at $17 and $8 respectively. Special ticket prices are available for: large groups, family tickets, weekend passes, season passes, and opening weekend. Parking is free and handicap parking is available for those who need it. Food prices run anywhere from $3 to $12 and drinks prices beginning at $2.50. Most shops take cash, checks and credit cards. Food booths accept cash and credit cards. ATMs are scattered around the fair grounds, in case you run a little low.
Activities include games and rides - yes, you heard right. The rides run on human power not electricity. There are several theaters scattered around the grounds - ranging in size from quite small for smaller entertainment venues, to quite large for the entertainers who draw larger audiences. Entertainment includes Dead Bob (a comedic skeleton), mud wrestling, a carollon player, Tartanic (a bagpipes and drum group), rennaissance instruments and coral groups. There's even a garden path in through the wooded area, which offers a quiet, shaded reprieve from the days activities, should you need to take a brief break from all the sights and sounds. Just beofre the grounds close each evening, Rennaissance Festival closes with a fireworks display.
Affects of the 2011 Drought and Wild Fires in Texas
Due to the Extreme drought in Texas, several wildfires broke out across the State of Texas. A major fire in Grimes, Montgomery and Waller counties, near the Texas Renaissance Festival grounds, burned for 10 days in early September 2011. The Texas Renaissance Festival grounds became a staging area for fire and emergency personnel fighting those fires. Festival officials called off or postponed many pre-festival weddings and event rehearsals that year due to those fires, for the safety of everyone involved.
Luckily the wildfires near the Texas Renaissance Festival were fully contained and did not burn any of the Faire grounds. Rain finally returned to the Houston and Southeast Texas areas, finally relieving the drought conditions by early 2012. However, the 2011 weather conditions were still quite dry. The Texas Renaissance Festival will went on as planned that year, with a few restrictions in place. No campfires or grilling were allowed for Renaissance Festival employees, performers, artisans and shop owners, and anyone else camping at the fairgrounds. Also smoking was only be allowed at specific locations for everyone, including visitors. All lights and cooking facilities for the event had to be electric, with no open flames permitted. These bans, thankfully, have been lifted and the fireworks displays have returned.
For further information, check out the Texas Renaissance Festival website at: http://www.texrenfest.com/