Editor's note: My friends—Angela, April, and Cherie—were invited to attend the dress rehearsal for Sherwood Forest Faire and write about their experience. Sherwood Forest Faire is a Renaissance Festival located right here in Bastrop County, in the cute little town of McDade. You can visit the Faire over eight weekends in February and March for a medieval-themed show with over 100 musical, comedic, and dramatic performances per day, including a full-contact heavy armor joust, a castle siege, falconry show, feasts, and wine tastings—all in period costume and character.
The smell of tobacco and coffee linger in the air. A man in a feathered cap and a Texas Longhorns shirt goes over a list of notes from a past rehearsal, and a crowd of men and women in partial to full costumes listen in rapt attention. Prince John asks a question about safety which, though historically inaccurate, strikes a humorous chord. Merry men brandishing longbows are warned not to ‘shoot over the wall’ which, one can only suppose, must be a safety hazard to Maid Marian and the other ladies watching from the tower windows.
Enthusiasm is thick in the air during this dress rehearsal at Sherwood Forest Faire, a Texas Renaissance Festival located in McDade, about a 17 minute drive from the heart of Bastrop. Everyone is full of good humor. These people love what they are doing, and anyone coming in to watch can’t help but love it, too.
The Merry Men (and women) are anxious to share their stories of why they joined the fair. When asked why they joined this particular festival, the overwhelming answer was because “we are like family.” Many of the over 100 actors who must stay in character at all times and participate in the various plays, parades, and shows are professionally trained and hold degrees in theater from colleges all over the country. Several have followed various renaissance festivals for decades, but for some, it is their first time. The actors have two things in common: a deep love for what they do and the desire to share it with anyone who walks through the gate and into the Faire.
The King Richard story line was started six years ago with the first faire, and has been followed throughout the years, with skits and events to propel the storyline. Visitors can follow the story throughout the day during their visit. This year will highlight the year 1194, when King Richard actually had to conduct a siege on his own castle.
Zane Baker, the Faire’s director, said all skits where written with history in mind, and some of their own ideas thrown in. Every play and event is original to the faire. When asked if any other faire in Texas boasts a castle siege event like the one Sherwood will be presenting, he said “Not to my knowledge.”
Plans for 2015
This year, there will be five events visitors can be a part of in the Robin Hood storyline, including skits and a parade. It will end at 5:00pm with the castle siege, complete with fire arrows, sword fights, and a royal wedding. Plus some surprises visitors will have to see to believe! Each play is designed to pull spectators in and make them feel like they are part of the show.
These plays are only a tiny part of what the faire has to offer. Combat jousting will occur every day the faire is open, with visiting teams coming in the last weekends in February and March. An event new to the faire, Jugging, which has been described as a cross between “football, basketball and fencing” by the Jugging Master, Sir Warlock, will be going on twice a day.
This faire offers much for pint-size lords and ladies, with merry-go-rounds, puppet shows from the puppeteer Grayson Wolf Enriques, the Sky King’s Falconry birds of Prey show, pony rides, a petting zoo, and a royal playground just for them.
Dancing and merriment fill the grounds. Visitors can dance with nymphs, fairies, and dryads at the seven stones. Authentic renaissance bands including the Tulstin Troubadours, Wine and Alchemy, the Worthy Waites of Whimsey, and Circa Paleo, an Elven Celtic quartet. They will be playing at scheduled times during the Faire (check website for details and schedule).
The Faire also offers a myriad of foods authentic to medieval times, and dozens of stands with handcrafted costumes, trinkets, and gifts. Robin’s Feast is a two-hour event held in the Castle that includes a six-course meal and entertainment (tickets are a separate cost and reservations are highly encouraged).
Weddings are held at Sherwood all year round in Maid Marion’s chapel, and the castle reception hall and carriages are also available for these events. Plus, summer camps for kids and knight training for all ages will also be offered during the year.
Less than twenty minutes from Bastrop, fun for the whole family, and where else are you going to see riders on horseback storming a castle? Sherwood Forest Faire is absolutely not to be missed!
When: Weekends, Feb. 7th-Mar. 29th & Friday, Mar. 20th. 10am-Dusk, rain or shine.
Where: 1883 Old Hwy 20, McDade, TX 78650
Tickets: Discounted tickets can be purchased at Walgreens, or you can purchase tickets online here.
Accommodations: Camping is available onsite, and there are limited rooms available in the castle itself.