Tennessee Renaissance Festival Ends Season on Memorial Day

Photo by Lee Rennick

This weekend, May 27 through May 29, is the last weekend of the 37th Annual Tennessee Renaissance Festival. Over the last three weekends families have enjoyed costumed revelry, jousting by mighty knights, live chess games, games of skill, tours of Castle Gwynn’s grounds, and a market winding around the “hills and dales” of Covington Glenn.

Several new events were added last year when Williamson County Parks and Recreation took over management of the festival, including the Queen’s Tea and the Fairy Habitat and Hobbit House Competition.

The Queen’s Tea, which is sold out for the final weekend, offers visitors an opportunity to enjoy the company of Queen Elizabeth I and her court of 1588. Dressed in their finest attire, the Lords and Ladies banter and tell tall tales as musicians and others entertain guests enjoying tea and sweet treats.

On May 14 and 15 the RenFest hosted the 2nd Annual Fairy Habitat and Hobbit House Competition. Entries had to be made out of all-natural elements like moss, bark, twigs, twine, leaves and flowers. The winners on Saturday in the Adult Division were, Amanda Lynnea Mileusnich, Andrea Diamante and Andrea Jolin. Kid winners were Evvie and James Carlson, The Lutfrell Family, and Tiffany Casalean. Sunday’s winners included Olivia Roupe, Jodi Bennett, and Dovelyn in the adult category, and Natalie Campbell, The Randolph Family, and Story Haynes and Jovial Arnett in the Kid’s Category.

Every weekend has its own theme. Viking warriors; pirates; Lords and Ladies; and hobbits and fairies have graced the fairgrounds at different times during the month. For the final weekend, the theme is “Celtic Celebration.” Organizers are expecting to see many gentlemen donning their kilts. Every day at 3:00 p.m. at the Hammerbeam Inn, located in the center of the event grounds, there is a costume contest.

There is a dress and weapon code on their website, “We encourage costumes from the Renaissance era and fantasy realms, but regular clothing is also permitted. We must maintain an environment suitable for guests of all ages. Shoes are required… [A]ll swords, daggers, bows and arrows, maces, and other weapons must be peace-tied. “

Multiple stages offer an assortment of entertainment. There are long-time favorites like Alex the Sot, who is a seafaring minstrel who provides adult comedy full of bawdy songs, naughty jokes, toasts and stories to make his audience blush. At the other end of the spectrum is Robin Hood and Maid Marion who do a fun G-rated show that is also filled with belly laughs, and plenty of Dad-puns for adults. Other performers will delight with magic from Issac Fawlkes, sword swallowing by Tim Timons, and musical performances from groups like The Barbarians.

While it has been a great year, not everything has gone smoothly. As regulars at the festival know, the weather can be a problem. Just as the festival’s founders discovered over the years, when it rains, the grounds flood. These issues are one of the learning experiences Williamson County Parks and Recreation had the “pleasure” of being educated about this year. Rains led to some long lines, backed up traffic, and unhappy neighbors. It is, sadly, one of the problems related to outdoor events clashing with Mother Nature.

Gordon Hampton, Williamson County Director of Parks told FOX17, “We lost over 200 parking spaces. And with an average of three or four people in the car, you’re looking at anywhere from six to 800 people that were having difficulty parking. Normally it’s very well organized. But when we lost so much because of mud. It was a big mess and we admit that.”

Memorial Day weekend will offer three days at Tennessee Renaissance Festival to join Queen Elizabeth I and her court as they enjoy the many activities and entertainments offered at Covington Glenn.

“As we wrap up our second year hosting the Tennessee Renaissance Festival; we have loved welcoming guests back to the festival grounds at Castle Park. It’s been wonderful to see so many people enjoying the festival; and we look forward to hosting them for our final weekend; this Saturday, Sunday and Monday. A limited number of tickets are still available for this weekend, and we advise individuals to purchase tickets online in advance,” said Hampton.