Texas Renaissance Festival Escapes Fire Damage… So Far

University of Houston radio station KUHF reports:

The wildfires outside of Magnolia have burned close to the site of the Texas Renaissance Festival. But so far the 100-acre fairgrounds have escaped damage. The festival, which runs for eight consecutive weekends, is still set to open as scheduled, one month from today.

The festival grounds are currently being used as a staging area for fire equipment and emergency workers.

Marketing director Gina Rotolo says staffers are helping out, but are also gearing up for an on-time opening on October 8th.

“This is certainly happening at a time that is a little too close for comfort for us. But we realize in the grand scheme of things that are hundreds of people and thousands of acres around us that have been impacted and affected in such a harsh, harsh way that we’ve been incredibly fortunate.”

Back in the 1970s and 1980s, every autumn for 10 years, I spent six weekends performing at TRF with a group called The Broken Consort. I wore a silly costume that had little if anything to do with the Renaissance. TRF was a paid gig; indeed, over a period of years, it just about paid for most of my woodwind instruments and part of my first harpsichord.

It is difficult for me to feel nostalgia for that experience: playing four sets a day in four different locations in a park that was by turns dusty and muddy, keeping track of instruments and especially chasing children away from our cache of instruments, dealing with obnoxious and sometimes drunk attendees, etc. is guaranteed not to evoke fond memories. But I’m glad the place isn’t burning. It’s not that far from Magnolia, and I can only hope the flames don’t make it to the festival grounds. The smoke is certainly aggravating my throat and sinuses every night in Houston.

So far they’ve lost almost 1400 homes in various Texas wildfires around the state, and progress in fighting them is uneven. Keep your fingers crossed.

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  • ellroon  On Friday September 9, 2011 at 11:17 am

    So it was YOU stuffed in those tights and codpiece! I have plodded around the dusty Renaissance Fair in Irwindale, CA. The costumes are breathtakingly … creative, shall we say. Fantasy, scifi, faintly medieval, insulting my son’s Austrian girlfriend. (That costume and that costume are 500 years apart!) But it’s hard to be medieval when baking in 80 degrees and getting sunburned….

    Hope you were at least entertained by the weirdness while you played!

    • Steve  On Friday September 9, 2011 at 1:30 pm

      ellroon, I’ve done worse things for pay. The rain on some days and the dust on dry days were a bit much, but otherwise it was acceptable. Some people lived for festivals, traveling around the country from one to the next. Some people (mostly not the same ones) took it very seriously, e.g., the “knights” who mounted horses and jousted at rings. Our entertainment was a hybrid: instruments mostly appropriate to the period; music from anywhere and anywhen we damned well pleased (yes, including Renaissance music). And through it all, we kept up a fake-Shakespearian-English patter for and with the audience and other performers. It’s one of the few venues in which I’d classify myself as “entertainer” rather than “musician.”

      As to tights and codpiece… tights, yes; codpiece, no: as far as I could tell, only the King was allowed to wear a codpiece, and his was HUGE, big enough for all the rest of us poor schmucks (so to speak). 😈

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