You rarely see the gates of the Texas Renaissance Festival this chil.EXPAND
You rarely see the gates of the Texas Renaissance Festival this chil.
Photo by Cory Garcia

A Trip to the Job Fair Means it is Almost Texas RenFest Season

As the weather shifts between annoying hot and annoying soggy, it’s easy to forget that we’re just under three weeks away from RenFest season. The Texas Renaissance Festival is something everyone has to experience at least once if for no other reason than to marvel at the size of the operation of the largest renaissance festival in the nation (and eat a giant turkey leg while you do). It takes a small army of folks to keep things moving at RenFest, which means there are plenty of opportunities for those who love it to be part of the system.

I woke up early on Saturday morning to make the trek out to Todd Mission to see if maybe there was room for a guy like myself. I knew the odds would be against me, as I’ve never dressed up in RenFest attire and I hate talking in different voices, but as someone who likes the theory of the RenFest — it’s a boon during election years when you need to get away from the modern world for a few hours — I thought I’d give it a shot.

Confession: I have been to my share of job fairs over the past few months, and I hate them. Dressing up during Houston summers is something I hate even when I'm getting a paid, let alone when I’m trying to impress someone with my limited set of skills. You would not believe how excited I was when I discovered I was going to be allowed to wear shorts to this thing; at last, maybe a place for me yet.

The RenFest job fair was unlike any of the ones I’ve been to previously. Yes, there came the part where you went up to the different vendors to talk about your skills and what not, but before that, the vendors each took the stage for 90 seconds to try and sell themselves to the couple of hundred folks interested in spending their fall weekends at the fest. It was fascinating to see those vendors who had really embraced RenFest in their fashion and communication and those who liked RenFest but still kept the culture at a slight distance. But above all, there was an enthusiasm from almost everyone about getting ready for the upcoming season.

Soon, these food areas are going to be packed.EXPAND
Soon, these food areas are going to be packed.
Photo by Cory Garcia

It was a learning experience as well. Though I’ve never thought about it too much, I was unaware that those working front of house at RenFest weren’t allowed to have visible tattoos, colored hair, or various facial piercings unless they got special permission. I also learned that most people don’t work for the RenFest itself, but for one of the independent operators who take out space at the festival, and that’s an important distinction when it comes to filling out your resumes in the future; if you don’t work for RenFest proper, listing them will do you no good.

I also learned about the world of breakers, which are people who fill in for a few hours at the various shops so that the full-time employees can take a break to grab some food or just get away from the “office” for a little bit. A breaker might not make a ton of money, but they get free entry into the festival when they work, and if you’re a RenFest enthusiast you’re looking at saving quite a bit on the whole.

In the end, I did not find the renaissance job of my dream, largely because previous obligations will keep me from being available to work every weekend of the festival. And that’s fine because where I fell short there were many, many more ready for things to kick off on September 29, and I’m happy for all of those who have found their people. It was weird seeing those pathways so empty, those gates so quiet, but there is life at RenFest, and with it community and excitement, which is much more than I can say for most job fairs.

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