Archive for Thursday, September 7, 2006

Renaissance Festival opens with crowded 1st weekend

September 7, 2006

Huzzah! The 30th annual Kansas City Renaissance Festival kicked off last weekend, attracting both locals and wayfarers from afar.

Mild weather Saturday, Sunday and Monday probably helped bring the combined weekend attendance to what festival staff said was about 25,000. That's about "7,000 more this weekend than we're used to," said Carrie Shoptaw, general manager of the festival.

In addition to the usual offerings of jousts, musical performers and human-powered amusement rides - all done by workers in period costumes - the sprawling, 16-acre festival on the grounds of the National Agricultural Center and Hall of Fame offered some new attractions this year.

Those included a bawdy comedy show called the "Washer Well Wenches," a pirate show, an elven singer and the return of Queen Elizabeth.

Jeri Peterson, Roeland Park, said she'd been coming to the festival for many years and bought a season pass. She went Sunday, and returned Monday with her grandchildren, Cara Peterson, 6, and Doug Winningham, 8.

"Our favorite we always see is Professor Dumpe, the fire-eater," Jeri Peteron said.

Peterson said she enjoyed coming to the festival for the atmosphere, walking around and shopping in the fair. Also, she said, she has friends who work as performers in the festival.

Her granddaughter Cara, dressed as Tinkerbell, said she liked to come to the festival for the costumes, while her cousin, Doug, enjoyed playing chess, the archery booth, and the star throwing. Doug said he'd been coming to the fair since he was 3 and was playing with what he called a "toebreaker" marble he bought from Bonner Springs' own Moon Marble Co. booth at the fair.

The Wall family came from Oak Grove, Mo., for the festival.

"We're enjoying it all," Ken Wall, the father said. "We'll come next year."

He said his 2-year-old, Landon, liked the petting zoo best, where he could interact with sheep, llamas and geese.

Landon's siblings, Kenny and Michaela, said they enjoyed the staged fight between Robin Hood and Little John on a log over a pond.

"It was funny," said Kenny, 12.

His mother, Tammy Wall, said, "I liked all the shops."

Joyce Jordan and John Dundee of Kansas City, Mo., didn't drive as far for their first time at the Renaissance Festival.

Jordan said she'd enjoyed the bagpipers, while Dundee said he enjoyed the magician Bobby the Juggler.

The festival continues weekends through Oct. 15.

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