Last Day

This #write31days post is one in a series about the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.  You can find the other posts in the series here.

The last weekend snuck up on me pretty quickly.  I was starting to get tired from Phantom’s Feast rehearsals, but I still wasn’t ready for the end of Faire.  (More about Phantom’s Feast later.)

We had been celebrating the Sea Sirens.  It’s the group of female pirates…  Excuse me, Privateers.  This was their last season as a group out at Faire.  They are sort of the beloved female scallywags, and everyone was sad to see them leave.  Captain Cinn was the leader.

Photo credit to Mark Leaver, I think. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

Photo credit to Mark Leaver, I think. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

I did take my phone in on the last Saturday to sneak some photos.  I kept thinking, “If only I could walk around with my camera when there is no one else around!”  So I took my phone and got the best photos I could.

Dressing Room

Welcome to the dressing room.  Why yes, it IS in the middle of the parking lot.  Which is why I was at least partially dressed when I got there every day.

Checking In

This is our check in booth, with the lovely Patricia and the lovely tea duchess.  Also pictured is one of the members of Pictus, a very lovely and LOUD Celtic music group.

SneakyPhonePhotos (12) SneakyPhonePhotos (24)

Here’s what the festival grounds look like before the opening canon.  Pretty bare without any people.

SneakyPhonePhotos (16)Getting ready for the last Royal Court morning meeting.  8:45 every morning.

SneakyPhonePhotos (28)

How about a sneak peek?  This is the backstage area or “Parade Rest” where we get ready for the parade every day.  And it’s a fun place to see the people you don’t get to interact with on a daily basis.

SneakyPhonePhotos (34)

Then there is the end of the day when there is no sunlight and the vendors are trying to close. It gets pretty dark and eerie out there.

SneakyPhonePhotos (38)

And the light changes everything.  But it’s also a really good time to unwind and give hugs and undress as quickly as you can.  You have to rest for the next day.

SneakyPhonePhotos (45)

Which… as the last day… becomes odd.  You see strange sights.  Like female Yeoman.  The Yeoman are the King’s bodyguards and part of the living history section of the faire.

So the last day came.  And it became, “this is the last time we’ll have morning meeting,” “these are the last gold stars of the season,” “this is our last parade,” “this is our last performance on this stage,” “this is the last Last Huzzah.”  It became a very tearful and emotional day.

Except….

Let me introduce you to my friend Rolo.  Rowan and RoloNot the brownie with the green stuff in his beard.  That’s Rowan.  No, the gypsy with the red headband, that’s Rolo.

Do you remember when I was telling you about the Coronation Ceremony, that I mentioned the person who was going to cater the cake backed out at the last minute, so everyone else got involved, and we ended up with cake for 350 people?  Well, when the reception was over and done with and the Romani were cleaning the building, Rolo decided that he would take one of the leftover cakes and smush it into my dear sister’s face.  Apparently, Princess Catherine needed a cake facial.

Then he proceeded to stalk every single picture of her for the rest of the season saying “needs more cake.”

So, I did what any rational person would do.

Plotted my revenge, of course.

We waited until the last show of the last day.  We walked up and interrupted their “Aye, Papa” show, which was their funny, improv show.  I stated that we needed him to teach all the young men how to properly “woo” because they seemed to be having trouble.  Cake (2)He got in front of Princess Catherine on one knee and started rambling.

Cake (1)And on the count of three….  This happened.

Cake (3)We each had a cupcake hidden in our swishy sleeves. Tessa had two. And then Rollo had four.  On his face!  Revenge is sweet!  😀

But in all honesty, it kept from saying “It’s the last….” all day long, and for that, I am grateful.

Photo Credit to Rnee' O'Brien

Photo Credit to Rnee’ O’Bannon

Because even though it was the last day, it was still a really good day.

Hugs,
Melinda

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I don’t believe in Mermaids or Fairies

This #write31days post is one in a series about the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.  You can find the other posts here.

In my original plan for this challenge, I was going to write one post for every themed weekend.  In my original plan, today’s post should be about Oktoberfest and Columbus Day weekend.

Sorry, but that’s not going to happen.  I’m starting to forget a lot of things.  Instead, I’m going to tell you about something else that happened at least once a weekend, if not once or twice a day.

One of the wonderful things that happened because of the crazy weekend is that Tessa and I came up with a new “schtick” or a new interaction with the patrons.  Since she was the younger sister, she decided that she believed that mermaids and fairies were real.  I, being her older and wiser sister, told her she had to be wrong.

We would find a child, usually a girl child, between the ages of about 7 and 11, and start arguing in front of them, as we walked towards Mermaid Cove.  She would be trying to convince me that fish people were real, and I would be trying to convince her that they weren’t.

Usually, the patrons we were arguing in front of would point us to the cove, but once, I got a child to actually walk me to where the mermaids were located!  And of course, I would be absolutely flabbergasted that they were real.

Photo credit to Mark Leaver Cabin Boy and Maksim Merman

Photo credit to Mark Leaver
Cabin Boy and Maksim Merman

Photo credit to Mark Leaver Oceania

Photo credit to Mark Leaver
Oceania

Photo Credit to Becca Hollis Catherine and Oceania

Photo Credit to Becca Hollis
Catherine and Oceania

Of course, it helped that the mermaids played along and pretended not to believe in us as well.  Oceania, the girl in the picture above, is Tessa’s insooth sister.  (Insooth means in truth.)

And it didn’t matter if we had done this once a day or three times that day, this was always the result.

Photo credit to Becca Hollis

Photo credit to Becca Hollis

The first weekend we did this, we were walking out of Mermaid Cove, and I said, “Well, so you were right.  Mermaids are real.  Next thing you know, you will be telling me that Fairies exist too!”

So of course, we walked out right as a group of Fairies was passing.  I don’t remember all of them, but I do remember that Queen Titania in the purple was a part.

Photo Credit to Becca Hollis

Photo Credit to Becca Hollis

The really fun part of this is that we weren’t supposed to “see” the Fairies at all.  If we were in a hurry, we could sneeze and they wouldn’t bother us.  But otherwise, they would play.

So we walked out of the cove talking about how fairies weren’t real, and a little girl tells us, “they are RIGHT there.”  So I asked her to show me.  She took me right up to them, and I continued to not see them.

Photo Credit to Becca Hollis Not seeing the obvious.

Photo Credit to Becca Hollis
Not seeing the obvious.

One of the Fairies, Moth I think, said, “why don’t you blow pixie dust on them?”  So we closed our eyes, and everyone counted to three, and she blew pixie dust on us……  And we still couldn’t see them.

She tried and tried.  I felt bad that I couldn’t “see” them for her, but it was so much fun to try.

There was also the time that the fairy Clover started playing with my swishy sleeves.  It made me nervous, because I couldn’t explain it.

Photo Credit to Becca Hollis

Photo Credit to Becca Hollis

Photo Credit to Becca Hollis

Photo Credit to Becca Hollis

I tried really hard to get the fairies to play with us at least once a day.  It was always an adventure, and always fun to see what would happen.

Oktoberfest did happen to be the weekend that my mother in law and step father in law came to visit.  So Dale and the girls also came out to visit.  Dale decided that he wanted to be the wizard Fizban.

So imagine my surprise when Princess Sophia received a flower from Fizban.  I was quite taken aback.

Photo Credit to Becca Hollis

Photo Credit to Becca Hollis

And happy.  😀

Photo credit to Becca Hollis

Photo credit to Becca Hollis

Then it was time for the town dance.  The dance is at the end of the day when we are trying to get people towards the front gate, but not necessarily to leave.  We usually do 3 dances and then the king arrives.  This particular weekend, we only did 2, but I got my mother in law to dance with me.  That was fun.

Photo credit to Becca Hollis

Photo credit to Becca Hollis

Little Bit and her cousin also danced with the other children and the tea duchess.

Photo credit to Becca Hollis

Photo credit to Becca Hollis

I also got Boo to dance with me.

Photo credit to Dale Hollis

Photo credit to Dale Hollis

It was a wonderful weekend. But I still don’t believe in mermaids or fairies.  😉

Hugs,
Melinda

Why I am a Street Character at a Renaissance Festival

This #write31days post is one in a series about the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.  You can find the other posts here.

You are in for a treat again today.  I have another guest post.  Please meet Jason, aka Gars, aka Hero.  He has written a note about why we do what we do, and how we get paid.  Please welcome Jason.


Photo credit to Sight Photography

Photo credit to Sight Photography

I have performed at our local Renaissance Festival for the last three years. For the last three years I have consistently lost money performing. There has been a lot of talk about fair pay and treatment and why you shouldn’t allow this to happen to yourself. There has been talk about how we are devaluing ourselves by not demanding more. I understand all of that. I get it. Here is the other side of the coin.

The first year I was involved in a large ensemble hat show. If you want to make money doing a hat show, do not perform in a large ensemble hat show. Dividing hat by 15 or 16 people gets you nothing. There was a compensation line item in our contract, but it didn’t cover expenses. At the end of the run, I came pretty close to break even.
The next year, I was in a street/service role. I lost money that year as well.
This last year I was in yet a different role and yes, I lost money.
Why do you do this? You are hurting yourself. You devalue your work when you don’t demand fair compensation. You are worth more than free lunch.
I had been a patron for some 20 or so years before finally taking the plunge. I always admired the street performers. They brought life to the village. They made the experience memorable. We finally auditioned and joined the festival three years ago, and it has changed our life. We have met wonderful performers, patrons, and support staff. My life is richer for what I have experienced. I never went into this with a thought of making enough money to pay anything. The money was, quite frankly, a surprise to me.
For me, this is my comicon. This is my dress up and go have fun in the sun at a place that I love. My compensation package has nothing to do with my contract. My first year, I felt richer for having spent 30 minutes sitting in the mud in a $300 costume, playing music for 10 or so toddlers. My second year, I was wealthy when I gave a young girl in a wheel chair, in her own words, her best day ever, for simply helping them get down the lane in character. My third year, I entertained infants by the score in the lanes, with my flutes behind the Royal Box at Shadowgate Downs.
For me this has never been about money. I am not trying to make a living doing this. I am sharing something I love with people that also love this thing. I am doing it in a way that I never thought I would have the courage to do. Would it be great if the powers that be opened up the purse strings? Sure. Do I understand the frustrations of those who are expecting compensation for their art? Yes. Do I hope that the powers that be will value you for your art and give you what you need and want for your performance? Certainly.
But, understand this. I am getting paid. I am getting paid in ways that perhaps some don’t understand, or don’t value. I have memories of doing this thing called festival. I have memories of those lives I have touched. I have had love and light transactions with people every single day. Every single day I have left the festival grounds richer for the experience I helped create.
This is why I perform at festival. This is why I spend more money than I ever get back. It’s about what I give, not what I get.

Thank you Jason for your words.  You can see more of his writing here.  And it was a pleasure to work with you this season.

Hugs,
Melinda
Photo credit to Ed Harrison

Photo credit to Ed Harrison

Princess Sophia

This #write31days post is one in a series about the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.  You can find the other posts in the series here.

The first weekend of October brought about the Wine, Chocolate, and Romance weekend.  The weekend that had “the wedding of the century!”  It also brought Princess Sophia to visit Canterbury.

No, not me.

Friends (1)

Princess Sophia

Friends (16)

Sir Sage

Near the beginning of the summer, we were made aware of a young lady, age 8, who has some physical and mental issues, that had been bullied enough at school, that she had told her mother that she wished she hadn’t been born.

Think about that.  Age 8.  Contemplating suicide.

Well, of course the Rennies wanted to help.  (Rennie = person who works at a Renaissance Festival.)

We gathered tickets and ride passes.  My sisters and I actually delivered her family’s festival tickets in person.

Delivering tickets to the princess

Delivering tickets to the princess

This is what awaited us when we arrived.

Beautiful Art!

Beautiful Art!

She had a crown and a sash made especially for her.  Princess Mary gave her a quest.  QuestShe saw the mermaids and the fairies, danced with the Romani, had tea with the Queen.  In short, she had a fabulous adventure.  The rest of this post will be picture heavy, because there just don’t seem to be enough words to describe the day.

Watching the Prince find Cinderella - Photo credit to Rnee' O'Brien

Watching the Prince find Cinderella – Photo credit to Rnee’ O’Bannon

Dancing with Cinderella and the Prince - Photo credit to Rnee' O'Brien

Dancing with Cinderella and the Prince – Photo credit to Rnee’ O’Bannon

Photo Credit to Ed Harrison

Learning to dance the Romani way – Photo Credit to Ed Harrison

The princess and the gypsy - Photo Credit to Ed Harrison

The princess and the gypsy – Photo Credit to Ed Harrison

Watching the dance with Rapunzel - Photo Credit to Ed Harrison

Watching the dance with Rapunzel – Photo Credit to Ed Harrison

A hug from Cinderella - Photo Credit to Ed Harrison

A hug from Cinderella – Photo Credit to Ed Harrison

A hug from Prince Charming - Photo Credit to Ed Harrison

A hug from Prince Charming – Photo Credit to Ed Harrison

I think this picture says it all.  She was happy and smiling and just beaming.

Photo Credit to Ed Harrison

Photo Credit to Ed Harrison

So, from one Princess Sophia to another, best wishes.  And remember, you are loved!

Hugs,
Melinda

P.S.  If I never do Ren Fest again, THIS was worth it.

Shamrocks and Shenanigans

This #write31days post is one in a series about the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.  You can find the rest of the series here.

I actually don’t remember very much about the fourth weekend.  I guess that means that it all went according to plan.  Which is actually very rare, since the first thing I learned about the festival is to “be flexible.”

So this post will be primarily pictures from my friend Rnee’.

Photo credit to Rnee' O'Brien

Photo credit to Rnee’ O’Bannon

This is outside the gates before the opening of the day.  Here you can see a picture of my basket that I used for the rest of the season to carry the tiaras that I handed out.  The fourth weekend is about when I hit my stride, when I felt like everything fell into place and I became “Princess Sophia.”  The tiaras helped.

Photo credit to Rnee' O'Brien

Photo credit to Rnee’ O’Bannon

This picture is right before the parade.

Photo credit to Rnee' O'Brien

Photo credit to Rnee’ O’Bannon

But this picture is really what the whole festival is about.  The people.  The magic on the little girls’ faces.  Talking to everyone.

Photo credit to Rnee' O'Brien

Photo credit to Rnee’ O’Bannon

Another parade.  I was very grateful for my parasol.  It kept me from burning a lot of the time.

Photo credit to Rnee' O'Brien

Photo credit to Rnee’ O’Bannon

And I just like this picture.  The water, the green, the light.  I just like it.

One more photo, but unfortunately, I don’t know who took it.

Last Huzzah - Do you know who took this picture?

Last Huzzah – Do you know who took this picture?

I’m on the far right in this picture.  Do you see the little girl in the pink shirt?  She walked up to me and held my hand during the last Huzzah, the last song.  I asked her if she wanted to go up to the front with the other kids, but no.  She wanted to hold my hand.

Well, that’s it.  That’s my fourth weekend.  Enjoy!

Hugs,
Melinda