Archive for Thursday, September 6, 2007

Renaissance Festival goes green

September 6, 2007

There was no such word as "environmentalism" 500 years ago. Nonetheless, the Kansas City Renaissance Festival will be a whole lot greener this year.

The festival, which runs each weekend through Oct. 14, plus Columbus Day, will be recycling cans, cardboard and plastic bottles for the first time.

Carrie Shoptaw, manager of the festival, estimated there would be about 10 tons of such recyclables this year.

"It's a big experiment for us," Shoptaw said. "I know we'll have a big learning curve."

Shoptaw said the festival sold about 156,000 plastic bottles and 10,000 aluminum cans at the festival last year, which helped explain the 10-ton figure. Additionally, she said, all the food and beverages sold there came in cardboard boxes, which adds up as well.

The festival's new recycling venture is a collaboration between Deffenbaugh Industries, Smurfit-Stone Container Corp. and Bridging The Gap, a nonprofit recycling center.

"It's one thing we're really proud of," Shoptaw said.

Customers may have to get used to the idea of recycling at the festival and learn to put their plastic bottles and cans in different containers than their trash.

There shouldn't be that much trash besides the recyclable material, Shoptaw said, as the main other kinds of trash should be glass bottles - no one takes them anymore, Shoptaw said, and the imported beer brands that come in glass don't sell well enough to justify buying kegs - and food waste such as turkey-leg bones.

In addition to the recycling program, the Renaissance Festival will feature offerings that while not entirely new, are either refreshed or were absent last year.

The most visible of these will be the Vulgarians, a nouveau-riche English family that decides to attack Canterbury, and will be looking to marry off their daughter Princess Petronella.

The Vulgarians, who sport other, whimsical names such as King Salmonella and Minister of War Portabella, started out as a street act at the festival and progressed from there, Shoptaw said.

"It just got funnier and funnier and funnier," Shoptaw said. "The guests just absolutely loved it."

In order to marry off Petronella, the festival will feature each day a "Mr. Renaissance Romance" contest.

"It's our idea of a beauty pageant for boys," Shoptaw said. "We take guests from our shows and hoodwink them into coming onstage. The point is that Petronella is auditioning her fiancees. It's one of most popular shows we've done."

Returning this year will be a reworked Washer Well Wench show all seven weeks, bagpipe shows from Tartanic the first four weekends in September, with additional pipes until the end of the festival, Rehtaeh, the Elven Enchantress who sings in Tolkien Elvish, Maiden's Whymsie and the Gypsy Musical.

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