Time Traveling Through Scarborough Renaissance Festival

This year’s 37th annual Scarborough Renaissance Festival proved to be as timeless as the historical period that it represents. For those unfamiliar with the event, it is one of America’s top Renaissance festivals that happens to take place in Waxahachie each spring. There is something for everybody with over 200 shops, 24 stages of entertainment, wine tasting, jousting knights, manpowered rides, and much more. They also host an array of special events each weekend to keep things fresh.

This past week, I decided to take my family to visit Scarborough for the first time. As soon as you walk through the castle gates you are taken to a different world. It is hard not to become completely immersed as you interact with the actors strolling about. Every actor has a unique accent and background. There are even independent cosplayers, known as “Friends of the Fair”, that have created their own stories and are a perfect addition to the Scarborough employees.

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We decided to begin with the jousting after a short walk through some old English style storefronts. The knights competed in a series of tournament style games while giving comedic rhetoric to entertain the crowd between each match. The “bad guys” won the first match and awarded a lucky child in the audience with a wooden sword. However, the good guys were able to finish strong and win the second round. Sir William, the champion, selected my oldest daughter from the crowd and crowned her “Princess of Love and Beauty”.  She was given a flower wreath to wear. This was definitely one of the highlights of her day as she proudly wore it around for the remainder of our time there.

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I had the chance to speak with Sir William after the match. While he is part of a traveling group known as Noble Cause Production, it was interesting to find out that he was a DFW native. In fact, he actually got his start 27 years ago at this very festival. How does someone happen to fall in such a unique career field? While he did grow up around horses, it really began with a simple fascination while visiting Scarborough Renaissance Festival. After some inquiries and a chance to pursue this new passion, he became the Sir William that fans have come to adore.

Sir William

From there, we traveled to visit the mermaid exhibit.  There were two mermaids in large water tanks, fins and all, talking with visitors. My daughters are currently infatuated with mermaids so this was a mandatory stop. They were given a seashell to place under their pillow when they sleep so that they may dream of the ocean.

The next show we attended was the Birds of Prey demonstration. The performers displayed the art of falconry and presented many other raptors. Buzzards, hawks, and a variety of birds narrowly soared above the audience. My girls loved watching these massive birds fly above while I found the information just as intriguing. For example, people who practice falconry were the first to discover the dangerous effects that the chemical DDT was having on the environment by merely observing eggs. The Last Chance Forever Birds of Prey Conservancy travels the country, as well as Scarborough Renaissance Festival, to educated people about these animals. They also rehabilitate the injured birds and release them when possible.

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Being lunchtime, we decided to pick up a bite to eat at one of the many storefronts. I decided to get the turkey leg (which happened to be one of the best decisions of the day). Apparently this is not only my opinion though as over 20 tons of turkey legs are consumed at the festival each year.

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We followed our lunch with a short ride on an elephant. It is not often that you get to be that close to such a large and amazing animal, much less ride one. Our oldest daughter had been begging us all day to take her to see the “rat circus” that she witnessed on the way in so we finally agreed.  Cirque Du Sewer consisted of rats and a cat conducting their way through obstacle courses. These animals were accompanied by the lead actress who surprisingly proved to be extremely athletic and comedic.

Cirque Du Sewer

To end our day we visited the petting zoo and made “troll charms” with  Rhianna and Awkward (the Festival’s two native troll inhabitants). The girls were able to pick out a charm and some beads to create a necklace. It was a nice and free addition to an already great time.

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I arrived at Scarborough before opening and spent most of the day there. However, it was not nearly enough time to see everything the festival had to offer. If you have children this is an awesome place to let them explore and be entertained. For those that do not (or just need a break), Scarborough also offers tons of experiences geared towards the adult audiences. You can learn to be a sommelier, go to adult comedy shows, browse the many unique shoes, and even have your wedding conducted on premises. Scarborough Renaissance Festival ends on May 29 so there is still time to make it out there. One thing is for sure; my family and I will be heading back again next year!

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