Monday, September 3, 2012

Fantasy abounds in attractions at Renaissance Festival

By CAROLINE BOYER, The Lawrence Journal-World

In a large tank off the Barbarian Forest, a mystical creature is making its first appearance at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.

As Davy Jones — also known as Jeremy Oyer when not on the grounds of Canterbury — explains, the mermaid called Laguna was caught in the North Atlantic about 18 months ago, and he is now traveling the world with her to show her to those who don’t believe mermaids exist.

“Now, she does like the gentlemen,” he warned as visitors passed her large tank Sunday. “She is looking for a suitable mate.”

When one spectator asked Oyer just how he was able to capture the mermaid, he only replied, “a very large rope.”

The Renaissance Festival opened Saturday and will hold regular hours today, and the “Magical Mermaid” joined a royal pub crawl among the festival’s new offerings. A film about jousting also will be shot during the festival next month.

The festival will run 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends through Oct. 14, including Labor Day and Columbus Day. While the festival will offer many new entertainment features this year, the most unique is definitely the Magical Mermaid in Mermaid Cove.

“It’s going to be probably the hottest thing at the show this year,” said Will Peterson, marketing coordinator for the festival.

Another new feature was provided in part by area residents. The new “Secret Garden” will include fairy houses submitted through a contest on the festival’s Facebook page. Peterson said more than 30 houses were submitted. The Fairy Forest, adjoining the Secret Garden, also will be a new feature this year.

New attractions also include:

• Barbarian Battle — Patrons can test their bravery as they fight tooth and nail against other patrons and players. The free daily event will take place on the joust field. The last warrior standing wins the title of Bravest Barbarian and a grand prize, as will best costume.

• Royal Pub Crawl — In this twice-daily ticketed event, patrons follow Canterbury’s salty wenches on a 90-minute tour through three of the festival village’s pubs. The tour includes three beers and a Renaissance Festival mug.

• Princess Court — While Henry VIII is the king of the festival this year, with Queen Catherine Parr (his sixth wife), some visiting princesses will stroll through the village bestowing regal honors upon patrons young and old.

• Human Combat Chess — the festival has featured this event previously, but it is making a return with a new show. The White Knight will battle the King’s Pawn for the enjoyment of the King and Queen.

The festival also will have themed weekends, starting off with “Silk Road,” with belly dancing and martial arts activities.

The other weekend themes will be: Highland Games, Sept. 8-9; Pet Festival, Sept. 15-16; Shamrocks and Shenanigans, Sept. 22-23; Wine, Chocolate and Romance, Sept 29-30; Pirate’s Ale Fest, Oct. 6-8; and Mystical Masquerade, Oct. 13-14.

In October, the festival also will be the site of filming for a Los Angeles-based filmmaker originally from Kansas City.

Stew Redwine plans to shoot his next short film, “The Joust,” Oct. 6-8 at the festival. Auditions for the film will be held through today, and Redwine also will work with Iowa-based jousting company Joust Evolution.

For more information on the festival, visit