By Joe Southern
Now in its 42nd year, the Texas Renaissance Festival is taking a crack at some records, both locally and worldwide.
The popular festival held weekends each October and November in the bustling hamlet of Todd Mission, just north of Magnolia, has been breaking some of its own attendance records. It set an opening weekend record at 60,600. That was eclipsed the next weekend at 60,722. The annual school days program set a record with 66,613 in attendance. Last weekend, the Roman Bacchanal celebration, saw 64,972 people pass through the gates. With five of the eight themed weekends in the books, the festival has had 406,737 people visit so far this year.
Speaking of records, last Saturday performer Adam “Crack” Winrich made an attempt to reclaim his Guinness Book of World Records title for “Most Whip Cracks in One Minute with Two Whips.” Last year, Winrich reclaimed the record at 568 cracks, but an Australian beat that record with 614 cracks.
Although an official count has not been released, festival officials said a formal submission to the record book has been made with more than enough cracks to set the record. It will take a couple weeks for the count to be verified.
Visitors inside the 60-acre park are treated to a wide variety of performances, games, contests, rides, foods and a wide assortment of vendors. All kinds of cloaks, corsets, wigs, wands and weapons can be purchased among scores of other unusual items.
“We are proud to be the largest and most acclaimed renaissance festival in the nation, celebrating over four decades of 16th century cheer,” said General Manager Terre Albert.
For thousands of guests, the party doesn’t end when the festival gates close. There is a 200-acre campground called Fields of New Market adjacent to the festival grounds. At the back of the campground (ironically in the “quiet” section) is a facility that serves as a high-end nightclub. It debuted two years ago as the Masquerade and continues as TRF After Dark.
The campground is divided into sections that the host compared to movie ratings. The back area farthest from the festival grounds he called a G area for people with small children. The closer to the festival one camps, the louder and more bawdy the scene becomes, moving up to PG, PG-13, R and even the occasional – though frowned upon – X-rated areas.
The Texas Renaissance Festival offers something for everyone with plenty of children’s activities up to adult-themed theatrics. Festivalgoers often dress in period clothing, fantasy costumes or in some kind of mix. Each weekend has with it a different theme. They include Oktoberfest, 1001 Dreams, Pirate Adventure, All Hallows Eve, Roman Bacchanal, Barbarian Invasion, Highland Fling and a Celtic Christmas. Next year the festival will expand to a ninth weekend and feature Heroes and Villains – A Cosplay Celebration.
For more information, visit www.texrenfest.com or search for the festival on popular social media sites.