Posts Tagged ‘Huntersville NC’

A Trip to Fairhaven in the Land of North Carolina for a Taste of the Renaissance Life

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

On an open field surrounded by wooded forest in upper Mecklenburg County, just north of the Queen City in the land of North Carolina, the mist clears for eight weekends revealing the village of Fairhaven. That’s where the Annual Carolina Renaissance Festival & Artisan Marketplace takes place.

It’s a place where you can dress in your own fancy festival garb or come as a time traveler from the future to enjoy period entertainment, test your skill at throwing an axe or climbing Jacob’s ladder, watch a joust to the death, taste the King’s nuts, visit a privy, or just follow the King and Queen strolling throughout the village with their court at hand. There’s lots of things for your little serfs to enjoy too. Or, just eat, drynk & be merrie. Huzzah!

At about the turn of the 21st century we started receiving offers to trade advertising for tickets to this festival. At the time I knew nothing about Renaissance Festivals and had no interest in this offer. Then one day in a conversation with our godchild Zelda Ravenel (our Carolina Arts webmaster and graphics guru) – she mentioned that some friends who were in her high school’s madrigal choir were going to go sing at the Carolina Renaissance Festival. I said that I had been getting requests for an offer for tickets and the rest is history.

The first year we went as time travelers from the future in our regular cloths. I was blown away by this place – it was a real renaissance village with hundreds of entertainers, artisans, village workers, and people just walking around the village in period costumes. The next year we all went in costumes we made (Linda did the bulk of the sewing for me) and soon we all had several outfits so that we wouldn’t show up in the same one year after year. I now have three and we’ll all have new ones designed by Zelda for next year. Many times we were taken for people who work at the festival, but our costumes usually pale in comparison to the real workers’ costumes. You might have seen one of mine – Rengarr – on my Facebook page.

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Some years we had a group of 10 or 12 who went with us, but over the last five years only some small part of that group have made it, but Linda and I haven’t been able to work out the time to go. This year Linda, Zelda and I made it. But before I go into what went on at this festival – let me tell you about the journey there.

We hardly go anywhere that isn’t in some way related to work, and in this case we were not only visiting an advertiser’s event, but we did some scouting along the way. As usual we traveled from the headquarters of PSMG, Inc. located on Lake Moultrie, around the lake and over to I-26 towards Columbia, SC. In Columbia we picked up I-77 and headed north towards Charlotte, NC – the Queen City.

Our first stop was the relatively new Olde English District Artists Market & Visitor Center in Richburg, SC, just off exit 65 of I-77. The Center is located right off the exit on a frontage road off I-77 at 3200 Commerce Drive in Suite A.

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The Center carries a variety of works made by artists from the seven counties in SC which make up the Olde English District, including: Chester, Chesterfield, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lancaster, Union and York. The selection is good now, but I imagine as artists learn about this new outlet and travelers on I-77 learn of the Center – many more artists will soon be represented there. The Center also has a lot of info about what’s going on and can be seen in those seven counties – including art events.

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Works by Gina Bruce

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Works by Stephanie Lavery of Moonstar Creations

The Olde English District Artists Market & Visitor Center and the Avant Garde Center for the Arts in Great Falls, SC, have teamed up to bring an impressive array of artists to Lancaster, SC, for The Holiday Downtown Market on Dec. 7, from 10am-6pm, part of the Red Rose Holiday Tour (Dec. 6-8, 2013). The Holiday Downtown Market will be located at 212 S. Main Street in Lancaster. Holiday shoppers have a central location to find works of art that include stained glass, wood turnings, paintings, photography, artistic jewelry & accessories, sweetgrass baskets, pottery, wood carvings, sculpture, and more!

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The Big Sign

While writing this blog post, I noticed on Facebook that the Center was finally getting their sign which people will see as they travel back and forth on I-77, so more people will be discovering this outlet for art and info in the near future.

You see it’s all related – when it comes to Carolina Arts – you can’t throw a stone or drive for miles in your car and not find something to do involving the visual art community in the Carolinas. Just check out a copy of Carolina Arts – you’ll see.

And, in case you were wondering – while we were at the Center a couple purchased a fair number of items there and another visitor was looking very hard, but we had to keep moving as we had another destination to reach before we could check into our hotel.

We got back on I-77 and headed past Rock Hill, SC, to drive around the south of downtown Charlotte to transfer on to I-85 headed further north to Concord, NC.

I wish I had done a search on highway construction projects that might be in my travel path, but I never do. I’m a kind of jump in the car and head in the direction I’m headed kind of guy, so sometimes I pay the price of not doing any research. I-85 going north from Charlotte is under construction – adding another lane but closing one of the three that was there making it only two lanes heading north. This was Friday afternoon on an holiday weekend and many cars were flowing out of Charlotte, so soon travel was bumper to bumper. After the first half hour of getting nowhere slowly, I was thinking I might have been better off going on I-77 and getting off at Huntersville, NC, and taking NC 73 over to Concord, but we were stuck.

After a never-ending slow crawl up I-85 from Charlotte to Concord, we made it to The Galleries of the Cabarrus Arts Council 30 minutes before they closed. The Galleries are on the first floor of the Historic Cabarrus Courthouse – a beautiful building, located at 65 Union Street South in downtown Concord.

I-85 outside of Charlotte is probably going to be under construction for years to come, so I might suggest an alternate route – especially if you’re trying to get there from Charlotte on a Friday afternoon.

For years I’ve wanted to get there to see one of their exhibits – they always seem to be showing some of the best artists in North Carolina and sometimes works by a few South Carolina artists. The current shows were a good example of what I feel is the norm for the Cabarrus Arts Council.

“Soft Focus,” includes artworks embracing impressionistic techniques and the moderating effects of time and memory. The exhibition features works by Katherine Armacost, Tamie Beldue, Nancy G. Cook, Bre Barnett Crowell, Alan Dehmer, Charles Farrar (the only local artist), Carolyn Glazener, Chris Luther, David McRary, Terri Otten, Terance Painter, Stuart Roper, Jeremy Sams, Deborah Squirem Charlie Tefft, and Wendy Whitson.

“Shop Seagrove & Piedmont Pottery,” is CAC’s annual exhibition of acclaimed potters from the Seagrove area of North Carolina and some from the Piedmont area of NC. The exhibition features works by Bulldog Pottery, Chris Luther Pottery, Crystal King Pottery, Dirtworks, Jared Zehmer Pottery, Jeff Pender, Joseph Sand Pottery, King’s Pottery, Luck’s Ware, and Pottery by Frank Neef.

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Oh look – tiles by Samantha Henneke of Bulldog Pottery

Both of these exhibits will be on view through Dec. 19, 2013.

I knew the work of many of the artists being featured in these two exhibits but I fell in love right off the bat with the paintings of Katherine Armacost. Oh, did I mention that they were abstract paintings?

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Painting by Katherine Armacost, wooden vase by Charles Farrar

If you’re a regular follower of my writings you know I love abstract works, but not just any abstracts – abstracts done well – which isn’t that easy. Armacost has joined my A-list of favorites.

In this case, I hate to single an artist out as all the works in this exhibit were excellent, but Armacost’s works were just my favorite of the day. I can’t help myself. But, if someone is looking to give me a knock-out Christmas gift – I’d take anything from this exhibit – anything.  But, like I said before – offering only the best seems to be a trend for the Cabarrus Arts Council.

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Works by Nancy G, Cook in one of the hallways – she has had work on our cover

The pottery exhibition was full of wonderful gift possibilities – all with reasonable prices for a one of a kind work of art. Believe me – no one receiving one of these works will ever remember that sweater or tie you got them in the past.

After passing through both exhibits I took a few photos to show some of what the facilities looked like in the reburbished courthouse. And it looked good. A flyer for the facility claims – “Rich wood floors and historic architectural details combine with state-of-the-art lighting to create a wonderful place to view outstanding artwork inside the historic courthouse”. And, I agree with every word of that statement.

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This is the gift shop in the old tax collector’s room.

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Here’s a view of one of the rooms making up The Galleries

Linda and I also met Pat Verner, the Communications Director for the Cabarrus Arts Council. We’ve been receiving press releases from her for years and I asked why she didn’t include more details about these exhibits and we discovered that she was sending us the short versions of her releases. From now on we’ll be getting the long versions. I might have given some folks the impression that space was limited – as it was when Carolina Arts was in print, but space is no problem now that we are online. All we ask when it comes to long version press releases, is that more photos of artworks come with them to help break up all those words.

They had an event that same evening in The Davis Theatre, also located in the courthouse, so we let them close up the galleries and get on to their next duties. It was a fast 30 minutes, but time well spent. After 25 years of doing this paper, I can see and learn a lot in 30 minutes. Future trips to Fairhaven will probably include visits to The Galleries of the Cabarrus Arts Council to see more of their great shows.

Next stop was the hotel room in Huntersville, cutting across NC 73 which runs between I-85 and I-77. But as we headed to Huntersville we saw a long slow stream of cars and trucks who were probably trying to avoid travel on I-85. So, my wish to make a loop from I-77 to Concord probably wouldn’t have even gotten us to The Galleries in time for even a 30 minute visit. Sometimes accepting what life hands you is the best plan.

Saturday morning we were headed to Fairhaven to be there in time for the opening ceremonies of The Annual Carolina Renaissance Festival & Artisan Marketplace. The village doesn’t open without a preview of what the day will offer and permission from the King and Queen.

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Part of the opening ceremony

All photos offered here were taken by Zelda Ravenel. She had some device which would record what we did and saw there. How that all works I don’t know.

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This year’s costume

Once inside we started the traditional trek from one end of the village to the other and Fairhaven is no small village. We older folks think more reason should be taken, but we always lose out to the younger folks. Fairhaven needs more chairs and resting spots in between its numerous stages for entertainment. Before the day was through we would travel the length of the village several times.

This year was the Festival’s 20th Anniversary, and we were happy to see that some things had changed and that some long time favorites were still there.

One big change to me was that the Jousting Tournament was now a contest between three riders and their squires were all young women. The announcer was also a woman on horseback. This must have reflected the latter years of the Renaissance. Who knows if in the near future a mysterious jouster might turn out to be a woman.

Many of the artisans were the same. One from the village of Hickory in the land of North Carolina was Brock Martin of Warfire Forge, who specialized in armor and weapons.

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A fine piece for the head

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It’s hard work but someone has to do it

This being Pirate’s Christmas weekend the village was infested with pirates and other swarthy characters – some from lands beyond my knowledge. I think that’s why there was a lot of business being conducted around the armor and weapon shops. With a village motto of “Eat, Drynk & Be Merrie!”, who knows what might happen at any minute. I guess that’s why the King and Queen travel with a sizable number of palace guards on hand.

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I’d stay clear of these folks – if you know what I mean – Aaarrgh!

But there are many more artisans offering normal wares including all sorts of cloths and accessories like shoes, hats, leather bags & pouches, and jewelry. The village is full of tanners, blacksmiths, glass blowers, weavers, and whatever else it takes for people to get through their Renaissance days.

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Everyone needs a mug. These are by Jerry Leaders

Food and drink are a major part of the Festival. I was happy to see a new addition to the usual food offerings which came from the far Orient – ye olde chicken of teriyaki. There are plenty of choices, but here’s a hint – come to eat early or you’ll be standing in line waiting to be served. But everyone must try a taste of the King’s nuts – they’re a royal treat. And the drink flows all day, just don’t trip over the village drunk – by noon he’s sprawled on the ground somewhere.

Entertainment comes in all forms, from PG to Bawdy PG where the jokes go over the little serfs’ heads. They hear the adults laugh and laugh along, but most don’t know why. The village has six stages, but the show is going on all over the village. If you can’t find them – they’ll find you and if you’re not careful – you’ll become part of the act. There are also lots of period rides for the young serfs including: De Vinci’s Flying Machine, climbing castle walls, and camel rides, just to name a few.

The thing is – the Festival and the village are a feast for your eyes, ears, and taste buds. Every inch of it is active.

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Don Juan & Miguel (with horns) telling a tale about the Queen of Spain – nice hats

One of our favorites of the Festival has been seeing Don Juan & Miguel perform. They’ve been a fixture of the Festival for twenty years. Their shows are not to be missed. If you want to see something dangerous and stupid – these are your guys. They’re dealing with swords and whips – so don’t get too close to the stage.

There is so much more to this Festival than what I’ve talked about or the images reveal, you just have to go and see for yourself. And as a bonus – you might just run into one of these characters in full costume at a Harris Teeter in Huntersville or Concord, well after the Festival closes the gates of Fairhaven.

The Festival will still be taking place on Nov., 16 & 17 and Nov. 23 & 24, 2013.

The point of most of our blog entries is not to document a venue or an event, but to give you a taste and to encourage you to go see for yourself. Don’t live though my journey – make one of your own.

Annual Carolina Renaissance Festival Takes Place in Huntersville, NC – Weekends Through Nov. 21, 2010

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

I don’t think it’s really fall until I’ve tasted some of the King’s nuts. Once I have, I know I’m back at the Carolina Renaissance Festival, usually in costume, where most people think I’m part of the festival. I love those roasted almonds. The King only accepts the best.

I’ve been going back in time for about a decade. I guess I keep hoping one year they’ll be offering some of the Queen’s tarts. Well, anyway I know all about it but there may be a few of you readers who don’t know a thing about this festival. So here’s the scoop.

Located just north of Charlotte in Huntersville, NC, is a village where imagination, fantasy, and history burst to life. It is a place where adults can feel and act like children while children are treated as royalty. It is a magical realm where you will forget about your daily cares and enjoy the magic of a simpler time and place.

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It is the Carolina Renaissance Festival and Artisan Marketplace.

Introduced to the Charlotte area in 1994, the Carolina Renaissance Festival and Artisan Marketplace contained just six acres of village attractions. Now, the event has grown to become one of the largest renaissance themed events in the country as well as one of the largest attractions in the Carolinas.

Operating 7 consecutive Saturdays and Sundays in October through November 21, 2010, the 22-acre tree-lined Renaissance Festival village is nestled amongst 245 acres of beautiful forest coated in autumn colors. A perfect setting for a fictional, story-book renaissance village filled with charming cottages, castles, kitchens and pubs, all with the feel of a 16th century European village. A fictional village called Fairhaven – a peaceful shire where pleasure and celebration rules the day.

It is within the walls of Fairhaven that villagers, artists, crafts-people, musicians, performance troupes and food vendors have gathered together to create a marketplace festival in celebration for the arrival of their visiting King and Queen.

Entertainment

With trumpets blaring and cannon blasting, the gates of Fairhaven swing open at 10am and close at dusk. The day is filled with an abundance of attractions appropriate for all age groups, including 11 stages, each packed with a unique mix of continuous music, dance, comedy shows, and circus entertainments. From sword swallowing to one-of-a-kind old world musical instruments, the entertainment options are endless. The shows are always spontaneous, and you can take part in the action if you wish – or sit back and enjoy watching the audience volunteers who make a spectacle of themselves. You will never know what happens next, on stage or off.

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The “Not to be Missed” Don Juan & Miguel Show

One of the special features of the Carolina Renaissance Festival is that the entertainment is not confined to the stage. The fun takes place right in front of you on the streets of Fairhaven Village, as a costumed cast of 300 medieval commoners, knights, and royalty celebrates a 16th century day of play. Part of the Renaissance experience is meeting and interacting with the colorful characters roaming the village, creating an interactive street theater. Musical fairies and lively woodland sprites embody childlike innocence. Close up magicians amaze and amuse. Wonderful statuary comes to life. There is even a walking tree! You can take audience with the King and Queen, or mingle with the mud covered peasants who endlessly proclaim… “Welcome to the greatest show in Earth!  Huzzah!”

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Outrageously unpredictable and unstoppably hilarious, the Carolina Renaissance Festival blends the comedy of Monty Python with the mythology of The Lord of the Rings.

One would be remissed without mentioning the incredible array of live musical performances – many of which are accompanied by ethnic dance influenced by Ireland, Scotland, India, Africa, and the Middle East.  Ancient old world instruments such as the hurdy gurdy, hammered dulcimer, penny whistle, along with classical guitar ensembles and gentle harp music all fill the lanes of the village. Even scurrrvy pirates and old Irish folk songs have a home with adventure filled ballads that make you sing and shout along – all part and parcel of the Festival day.

Attractions

In addition to the non-stop schedule of entertainment, you cannot miss the birds of prey exhibition where the royal falconer will don his hunting garb and take you on a thrilling trip into the past explaining and demonstrating the use of falcons, hawks, owls and more in the ancient sport of falconry! Listen to fascinating bits of history delivered while a hawk flies overhead in a simulated hunt displaying the unique skills that enraptured nobles long ago and made falconry the sport of kings. It is both educational and awe inspiring as you learn about the popularity of falconry in the renaissance while watching a falcon dive at over 100 miles an hour!

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A modern recreation of the Renaissance era wouldn’t be complete without a depiction of one of the grandest events of the time period – the tournament Joust! Easily the Carolina Renaissance Festival’s most popular attraction, the joust is full of pomp, pageantry, and chivalry. Three times daily, noble Knights strap on the heavy suits of armor and mount two tons of snorting steeds. With plumes waving and chain mail clanking, they take up their lances and charge at one another in tilt. Shattering lances, clashing swords, and daring deeds of bravery all collide into a realistic recreation of a joust to the death! These Knights (actually stunt riders and actors) battle inside the village on a large tournament field in a 2,000 seat arena.  Adults and children alike can join in the fun and cheer their favorite knight with creative and sarcastic chants taught by the Fairhaven rabble rousers!

Games & Rides

The Carolina Renaissance Festival is home to plenty of activities for children including a most unusual collection of people powered rides and games of skill. Inspired by the joust? Try your skill with a lance on the Slider Joust challenge game. You can storm the castle in a paintball battle or try to solve the riddle of climbing Jacob’s Ladder. Mix skillful pleasure and comic adventure by throwing tomatoes at the insulting fools locked in the stocks at Vegetable Justice. Test your skill at games like the Dragon Climbing Tower, the Archery Range, and the Maze. Fly high into the sky on the Pirate’s Assault Catapult. Take a ride on Christopher Columbus’ Voyage to the New World, the Piccolo Pony (a rocking horse bigger than an elephant), and Leonardo’s Flying Machine; a people powered amusement ride based on Di Vinci’s designs for human flight.

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A family favorite is Mother (and Father) Goose brought to life with their costumed ducks and geese, the Petting Farm, and Camel and Elephant Rides.

Already the Carolinas’ largest costume party, put the Carolina Renaissance Festival on your Halloween list of things to do with free event admission for all children 12 and under, with free tricks & treats to be found all around the Festival village, and a Halloween Treasure Hunt with prizes! Children are encouraged to show off their Halloween costumes and enter the Halloween Costume Contest!

Shopping

In addition, the Renaissance Festival is a great place to buy your Halloween costume or accessories. Early holiday shoppers can peruse over 100 craft shops in an open-air village market which provides a diverse selection of handmade items such as pottery, jewelry, perfume, glass blown ornaments, ceramics, bath & body products, medieval costumes, hand carved candles, unique musical instruments, children’s toys, a full spectrum of clothing, and much more. You can even create your own special gift at the raku pottery booth.

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Housed in rows of storybook shops and medieval style tents, you can watch artisans make a masterpiece right before your eyes. Enjoy demonstrations of fine skills such as weaving, woodcarving, blacksmithing, glassblowing, pottery, and jewelry making – all through the use of ancient skills and low technology.

Eating

Did you work up an appetite perusing all the shops and enjoying all the entertainment? Well you will be pleased to know that the food is as spectacular as all the attractions. In addition to the shows, music, crafts, and the wonder of getting lost in another time, people visit the Carolina Renaissance Festival for the food as well. Village kitchens cook up an endless feast of bread bowl stews, steak-on-a-stake, gourmet sausages, and the festival’s famous giant roasted turkey legs. For dessert, try the fresh crepes, the cakes and cookies from the Monks Bakery, candy delights from the Chocolate Shoppe, Italian ice, gelato, and a favorite of all renaissance wanderers: a bag of cinnamon-roasted almonds (the King’s nuts). Festival pubs soft drinks, a wide variety of craft beer, wine, champagne, ale, honey mead, lemonade and Medieval Margaritas to compliment the day-long feast of hearty foods fit for royalty.

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Each year the Carolina Renaissance Festival adds new entertainment and new facilities making it the fall destination for quality entertainment in the Carolinas. And for visitor convenience, the Festival has embraced modern times. In addition to purchasing advanced discount tickets at Harris Teeter grocery stores region-wide, visitors can now print their own tickets in advance on the Festival’s website at (www.RenFestInfo.com). So bust out your sense of good cheer, leave your cares behind, and take a day trip out to the wildly popular and entertaining time machine known as the Carolina Renaissance Festival and Artisan Market Place.

Advance Discount Tickets: $18 for adults, $7 for kids ages 5-12; available at Harris Teeter Stores region wide. Children under 5 are always free. Tickets purchased at the gate are $1 more, or print your own online at (www.RenFestInfo.com). Senior (60 and over) and adult Military discount tickets are $17 at the gate. Parking is free courtesy of Harris Teeter.

Event Sponsors: The Carolina Renaissance Festival is presented by Harris Teeter, Carolina Blonde, Pepsi, and the Charlotte Observer.

For more event information call 704/896-5544; toll free at 877/896-5544, or on the web at (www.RenFestInfo.com).

Carolina Renaissance Festival near Huntersville, NC, Sets Attendance Record in its First Weekend

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

I got an e-mail at Carolina Arts from the management of the Carolina Renaissance Festival, located near Huntersville, NC, that nearly 20,000 attendees enjoyed the magic, mirth, and merriment at the 16th Annual Carolina Renaissance Festival this past weekend (Oct. 10 & 11, 2009). This comes as a pleasant surprise to Renaissance Festival management – who were prepared to experience a decline due to the tough economic climate.

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“The Renaissance Festival has always been a place where people can go to set aside their daily cares while experiencing unique entertainments, shopping, and food. The turnout this past weekend shows that at the Renaissance Festival – escapism reigns!” says Matt Siegel, marketing and entertainment director for the Festival.

I wish I was going to the Festival this year – not with those 20,000 during the first weekend, but sometime this fall, but alas – I’ll not be able to attend. I need an escape – back a few centuries.

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Rengarr the happy Germanic

Our family and some friends have attended the Festival many times – in costume – costumes so good, visitors thought we were part of the Festival staff – so good, some asked to take our pictures. At least I hope it was because of the costumes.

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Rengarr in full gear

The Carolina Renaissance Festival is a medieval amusement park, a 10-stage theater, a twenty two acre circus, an arts and crafts fair, a jousting tournament and a feast – all rolled into one, non-stop day long adventure.

The Carolina Renaissance Festival is open every Saturday and Sunday, now through Nov. 22, 2009. Festival hours are from 10am-5:30pm – rain or shine.

The Festival Park is located just north of Charlotte, NC, between Concord and Huntersville on Highway 73 at Poplar Tent Road (between I-77 and I-85). Exit 25 on I-77 or exits 52 or 55 on I-85.

Parking is free courtesy of Harris Teeter. Thank you Harris Teeter!

Advance discount tickets are available at Harris Teeter stores region wide. They are $18 for adults, $7 for kids ages 5-12, children under 5 are always free. Tickets purchased at the gate are $1 more. Print your own tickets on-line. Senior discount tickets (60 and over) are $17 at the gate.

For more information visitors should call 704/896-5544 or toll free at 877/896-5544. Visit the Festival website at (http://www.royalfaires.com/carolina/).

Go escape for a few hours to a land – far, far away from today’s troubles, but don’t forget to take some money. The Festival also features a village of artisans offering a wide variety of hand-crafted items from hand-blown glass, pottery, and metalworks. Even way back when – money was the mother’s milk of a good time. And, don’t forget to taste the King’s nuts – they’re good!