Our Day at the Mid-South Renaissance Faire
Imagine waking up one day and looking around to see a strangely unfamiliar room. You suddenly realize that you’ve somehow been transported from your home to the blistering city of London. The year is 1576. You glimpse through your window and notice a big group of villagers excitedly anticipating the arrival of Queen Elizabeth I. In honor of the Queen, the villagers have set up an exquisite celebratory festival. Now, thanks to the beautifully elaborate Mid-South Renaissance Faire, you don’t have to simply imagine it—you can actually relive it here, at home, in the Mid-South. As you wander through the fair and its countless attractions, you can actually feel as if you’ve been transported to the Elizabethan era.
The Mid-South Renaissance Faire is an incredibly unique event brought to Millington by the Millington Arts and Recreation Department Director, Kate Armitage. A relatively new attraction to the area, this will be the third year of the Faire. This year, the festivities will take place at the USA Baseball Stadium and Park in Millington (4351 Babe Howard Boulevard) on the last two weekends of August from 10 a.m to 6 p.m. ($10.00 per adult, $5.00 for kids 6-12, free for kids 5 and under—they also offer senior, student, and military discounts). The beautiful park features lots of space, a gorgeous lake, and even a horse arena. Don’t let the Mid-South heat dissuade you from experiencing this incredible, eye-opening festival. As Armitage excitedly gushed, there is nothing else quite like it. Not only do you get to enjoy an endless array of fun activities, but you also get to learn about the Renaissance era from an up-close and immersive perspective.
As Armitage went down the astonishingly long list of things to do at the event, it became clear that she is truly passionate about giving people of the Mid-South a taste of what it was like to live in the age of the Renaissance. The fair features live musical performances all day, along with a line-up of variety acts, from comedy to juggling to bagpipes and drums to...wait for it...swordfighting! That is only the beginning, though. You can also witness the courting of Queen Elizabeth I, knighting ceremonies, and Elizabethan-era dancing. If you wander to the “Faerie Queen’s Grove,” you will get the chance to listen to the stories of Melandra of the Woods and the Ice Cream Dragon. You can even fully immerse yourself in the Renaissance experience through live, full-contact jousting (with the horses and armor—the whole nine yards!) or by shooting an actual bow-and-arrow.
The list of activities go on and on. It is almost overwhelming! Luckily, Cypress was there to experience it firsthand! You can enter your pup in a “Dog Ruff Contest”—the dog with the best “Elizabethan Neck Ruff” (can be purchased at a vendor) wins—or enter a costume contest. If you need some relaxation, you can stop by and have Tea with Hatty, the Maddest Hatter, or go watch performer Donal Hinley play a glass harmonica.
As you wander along the elegant grounds of the fair, you are also sure to come across many vendors selling a variety of goods and food. The many vendors this year included Gwyne’s Jewels, Feather in Your Cap, Poppycock and Katherine Cook Designs, DeRosa’s Boots and Exquisite Leather, Black Swan Armory, and many more. About the food...you should not go hungry at the Renaissance Faire. The wide array of yummy offerings included fish and chips, pickles on sticks, mini meat pies, loaded nachos, quesadillas, footlong corndogs, Angus burgers, and funnel cakes. Food vendors also include Dragon Ice Cream, Kastle Kandies, Papa Jimmy’s Kettle Corn, Rice Originals, and Wild Bill’s Olde Fashioned Soda. In their wonderfully unique fashion, they even elevate their culinary options to the next level by offering turkey legs. Of course, the stifling August heat and humidity left Faire-goers thirsty, which was easily solved by grabbing one of the many varieties of frozen drinks offered including cappuccinos, smoothies, or one of their very creatively named “You Know Nothing Jon Snow Cones” (for all of you Game of Thrones fans).
All in all, director Kate Armitage should be incredibly proud of her work in making the Renaissance Faire a reality, because it provides the people of the Mid-South with a much-needed change of pace and an opportunity to gain a sense of historical perspective. Somehow, it brings something to the table that maybe you didn’t even realize was needed until you see it for yourself. Once you personally experience the Renaissance Faire, you will see why it is so special—it serves the people of the Mid-South with a refreshing escape from the mundane reality of everyday life—something most of us don’t have the chance to experience very often.
For more information about the Mid-South Renaissance Faire, please be sure to refer to the official fair website at midsouthrenfaire.com or, in case of further questions, contact the President Beth Kitchen at (901) 508-3360.