Renaissance Festival coming to Blackwell this weekend

by Charles Gerian

If you’re driving by Memorial Park this weekend, remember to keep your eyes on the road and brake for any knights and princesses you might come across.

This weekend will mark Blackwell’s first-ever renaissance festival being held at the Blackwell Memorial Park in the form of the Gem of the Chikaskia Renaissance Fair, being held by the Kay County Youth Pageants Committee.

The festival will be held Saturday, April 13, from 9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Admittance is $10 for adults, $5 for ages 4-18, with kids 3 and under free. Those attending are encouraged to dress in costumes. There will be jousting, swordfights, food and merchandise vendors, and other “period-appropriate” entertainment.

This festival is the latest event being staged by the Youth Pageants Committee, themselves no strangers to bringing specialty entertainment to Blackwell. In the last year, to foster support for their pageants and raise money for the highly-attended ceremonies, the committee has hosted a Halloween haunted house festival, drag racing, and recently a 1950s-inspired sockhop event.

Committee Director Nikki Barnes, as energetic and enthusiastic to talk about her committee’s projects as always, was over-the-moon…or rather over-the-castle…about the weekend’s coming event.

“As you know, our committee has hosted Drag Races as a fundraiser in the past,” said Barnes, “We wanted a comparable event that would be as large as the races, to be an excellent fundraiser for our committee so we can continue to offer low-cost pageants for kids in this area.”

“But we weren’t enthusiastic about hosting the races again- I attend renaissance festivals as a vendor and I was at one last November and I started thinking, why couldn’t we host a renaissance festival? I proposed hosting a renaissance festival to the committee and they all loved the idea!”

Already, Barnes and the committee are looking ahead:

“This will definitely be an annual event! Next year we plan on making it a two-day event,” she beamed.

But hosting something like a Renaissance festival isn’t as simple as popping up a few tents, lacing up a corset, and swinging a sword.

“This event has taken a ton of planning and hard work from our committee,” Barnes praised.

“Because I personally have attended Renaissance festivals as a vendor I had contacts who are active in other festivals in Oklahoma so we had an excellent support team in planning this! It has taken lots of footwork, booking, all of the performers, and making everything come together.”

The festival was officially announced on Facebook earlier in the year, and Barnes said the response has been overwhelming.

“We have received an excellent response to planning this event,” she said.

“The entire community seems to be very excited! I’ve visited several Ren Fests around the state this spring and all the coordinators of the other festivals are excited to invite a new fest to the lineup in Oklahoma.”

She continued:

“Renaissance festivals are for fun! Pure and delightful fun! The event should transform to the Renaissance era. There will be entertainment from belly dancers to sword fights to magicians! Visitors are encouraged to wear costumes, contributing to the illusion of an actual Renaissance environment. Above all, everyone should just focus on having fun.”

“We will have a petting zoo, sword, fights, Shakespeare acting, live period-appropriate music, a magician, an acrobat, fairies, dragons, and more! Regalia International Bird of Prey will be there along with A Mirage Dance Company belly dancers! Of course, we’ll have turkey legs for sale by Snyder’s Deli among other food trucks! We will have about 25 vendors including Redneck Quilt’n LLC selling commemorative festival T-shirt! We’re even hosting a belly dancing class taught by A Mirage Dance Company the evening before at the same location!”

The next pageant will be May 10 at the event center at the fairgrounds in Blackwell with an “Alice in Wonderland” theme.

“We have released the information on our Facebook and are currently accepting entries! We will be set up with entry forms for the pageant to fill out at the Renaissance festival! We don’t have any major plans for fall fundraisers as of yet but we will have a Christmas pageant again in December,” said Barnes.