Renaissance Festival opens Saturday

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By Erin Melwing

News Intern

Deep in the forest of Eminence lies a world of kings, wenches, jousting, kilts and good times.

The Highland Renaissance Festival, opening this Saturday, allows families and people of all ages to lose themselves in 14th Century Scotland and experience life as it once was.

“Once you come through the trees, you enter Briarwood and you’re engulfed in the fantasy,” Briarwood Mayor Andrew MacDonald, played by Dave Henderson, said. “It’s different. You work all week long, everyone has things to worry about. Here you can escape things like rising gas prices ... and reality.”

In its third year, the festival is still growing. Additions for the 2008 season include new jousting groups like the Fratelli Equestrian Arts group which incorporates acrobatics in their acts, 12 new vendors, a new town hall, more period and regular foods, and more.

Patrons can still expect other festival favorites such as the daily parade, hair braiding and face painting, games of skill such as archery, full-contact jousting shows, free craft stations for children, songs, skits and shows. Shows include everything from watching the Pickled Brothers swallow swords and juggle machetes to a gypsy show. Also, 76 vendors committed for the season as well, according to Ludmilla Lowery, Highland Renaissance Festival vendor director.

“Expect to be blown away. Expect the unexpected,” Sir Robert the Bruce, King of Scotland, said.

Patrons are encouraged to come in period costume and to be ready to pretend to be someone they are not, said Piper MacVermin, the Briarwood rat catcher, said. With a cast of 18 members that live their role and prepare year-round, patrons should expect that cast members will not break character and do everything they can to make it 14th Century Scotland, Robert the Bruce, played by Karl Licht, said. For instance, MacVermin, played by Rebekah Lay, claims the perfect family-sized recipe for a hearty rat stew is a lovely chicken broth, five to six good, healthy rats, a good handful of sage, salt and pepper, some lovely root vegetables, and on the side — a nice brown bread.

“This is something you need to experience once in your life. Come out for the day and be a part of something,” Licht said. “To be honest, it’s just good family fun. You don’t have to worry about pretty much anything, everything is geared for all ages. It’s a family.”

Various themed weekends are also planned. This weekend is “Scotland the Brave” weekend and patrons are encouraged to wear kilts. Also, admission is get one free single day admission for a paid single day admission purchased at the gate this weekend only.

The 2008 season runs weekends only from May 31 through July 20 and is open rain or shine at the Renaissance Festival Grounds in Eminence. Gates open at 10 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. An adult one day pass is $12 at the gate and a child one day pass is $6 at the gate. Season passes are also available. For more information, visit www.kyrenfaire.com.

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