By Susan Macdonald
Rain couldn’t put a damper on Queen Elizabeth’s reign at the First Annual Mid-South Renaissance Faire.
Despite the wet weather, more than 3,400 visitors came to the opening weekend of the MSRF and more visitors are expected for the second weekend.
The stars of the show were Memphis Central High School drama teacher Jen Wood-Bowien as Queen Elizabeth I and the brave knights on horseback of Paragon Jousting.
Other entertainment included Paulo Garbanzo, the juggling jester; Professor John Ross of Rhodes College, playing the lute; Haggis Rampant; the storytelling Ice Cream Dragon (he also sold ice cream); buccaneer bards Seadogg & Mange; the Tulstin Troubadours; local musical trio Wind, Wood, & Wire; three magicians, and six different dance groups, from the queen’s court demonstrating 16th century dances to the Memphis Scottish Society doing Scottish country dance to the exotic eastern dancers of Isis Dance Academy, the Romani Dancers, and the Dancers of the Silk Road to the Faerie Queen and her pixies and sprites teaching the visitors to the “Shire of Shelby” how to do a maypole dance.
Three stages displayed magicians, musicians, puppets, and more.
There was entertainment for young and old alike. There were two quests, one a challenge of strength and skill, the other a scavenger hunt, where children who completed the quests could be knighted by the queen. There were free children’s activities like Bess’ Bounce Castle (named for Good Queen Bess), Giant Chess, and Tug of War. Other games, such as Dunk the Dunce and Veggie Revenge, cost to play. In addition to cheering for the jousters, adults and children could try their hand at archery, or watch medieval crafts demonstrated. For the adults, there were ale and mead tastings.
More than 30 vendors were spread across eight acres.
The First Annual Mid-South Renaissance Faire was Aug. 22, 23, 29, and 30 at Shelby Farms Park. The Second Annual Mid-South Renaissance Faire is already in the planning stages, although a date has not been set yet.