Barbarian hordes seek a fresh keg at the Texas 
    Renaissance Festival.
Barbarian hordes seek a fresh keg at the Texas Renaissance Festival.

Puffy Shirts, Turkey Legs and Thee

Calling all lords, ladies, dragons, trolls, wenches and harlots. The time has come to descend upon the fantasy village between Magnolia and Plantersville known as the Texas Renaissance Festival.

At the event, which is now in its 29th year, you can see jousting and sword fights, hear a ballad of yore, watch Shakespeare do stand-up and feast on one of those big King Henry VIII-style turkey legs -- all the while quaffing Miller Lite (hey, even anachronistic festivals need corporate sponsors).

"Once you enter the gates, it's really like walking into another time," says marketing director Orvis Melvin. Although by definition the Renaissance period encompasses the "renewal and rebirth" of learning and the arts in Europe between the 14th and 16th centuries, the festival has always taken a more liberal interpretation.


Texas Renaissance Festival

Plantersville, Texas

9 a.m. to dusk, Saturdays and Sundays from October 4 through November 16. For information, call 281-356-2178 or visit $21 adults, $10 kids.

So if you've got tights and a Seinfeld "puffy shirt" -- and speak with a lot of "thees" and "thous" -- you're not likely to be berated by the period police. Aficionados of history, Dungeons & Dragons, Braveheart, Lord of the Rings, Grimm's Fairy Tales and even Monty Python all find common ground here.

The fest started out with three stages and 15 acres in 1975. Now, founder George Coulam's project has grown into a 55-acre site with 22 stages, 330 "shoppes" and more than 500 local and international musicians, actors, demonstrators and roving performers. Among this year's additions to the fest: performances by French jester Arsene Dupin, Rob Valentine's museum of arms and armor and the Arena, a state-of-the art jousting facility.

Jousting Renaissance Festival-style is a lot like professional wrestling. "Each knight has their lady fair who is looking out for their man's interest, and they'll do anything to help them win," Melvin says. And how does the crowd like catfights between busty medieval beauties? As Melvin puts it: "Let's just say that the male audience members might find it an uplifting experience."


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