The 37th annual Michigan Renaissance Festival kicks it medieval
By Camyle Cryderman and Elaine Gerou
Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief
On the morning of Aug. 22 amidst the whimsy of excited guests and cast members alike, the Michigan Renaissance Festival will open its doors for its 37th season. Located at 12600 Dixie Hwy in Holly, Michigan, the workers have been eagerly preparing the replica 16th century village for guests to enjoy.
Featuring 17 acres of medieval castles, tree houses, shops and vendors, guests will feel as though they have gone back in time when they step through the archway entrance. With forms of amusement to keep everyone entertained, this is definitely a family affair.
A day’s events
Under the trees of the festival’s Village at Hollygrove, dancers, witches, elves, mermaids and royal Queen Elizabeth will be found. Running from 10 A.M. to 7 P.M. every weekend from its opening through October 4, they will be there mingling with guests and performing rehearsed pieces.
Every year the festival offers a variety of attractions such as costumes, henna, taxidermy, delicious food and jewelry. There is also entertainment provided through interactive dancing, singing and impromptu acts from the workers that attract visitors both young and old. Kelly Boczeck-Petrie, who portrayed Queen Elizabeth 20 years ago at the festival still has high regard for the event.
“You get to explore the history, and relive it in an easier fashion for a few hours a week, then go back to indoor plumbing,” she said. “It was amazing,” she said of her experience acting, “It was like being an actual queen, but I didn’t have quite as many responsibilities.”
She also explained the queen’s rigorous agenda filled with ceremonies, interacting with the royal court and making the attendees feel like royalty as well.
Merfolk, merchants and more
The ever popular mermaid exhibit will be back at the festival this year too. This once in a lifetime experience allows guests the opportunity to observe and interact with the freshwater merfolk. Mermaid Luna who has been a part of the festival the past three years does not speak, but communicates in dolphin sounds. Patrick Kelly, her handler translated that she is excited for the mermaid tank to see if she can splash the queen.
With all the actors in costume they will rarely be seen breaking character, making the festival realistically endearing. With stories to tell of 16th century life and confused excitement when they see a piece of modern technology, the cast really make the festival what it is. Along with embracing the silly things that are said and done, attendees are encouraged to dress in their own medieval clothing to carry on the feel of the event.
Dance the day away
A large focus of the festival is dancing. From performances of the royal court to interactive dances with the crowds, music is constantly playing, so people are constantly dancing. Actually trained in the last three centuries styles of dance, Michael Wiggins, who plays the dance master, often leads the crowd in this process.
“I love interacting with all the people,” he said of his job. “They’re here to have fun, it doesn’t matter what type of day we’re having, it’s our job to make sure they have a good time.”
This will be his 15th year acting at the festival.
Along with physical entertainment, the Michigan Renaissance Festival offers hair braiding, face painting, palm readings and even the opportunity to become knighted by the queen herself.
“The best part is getting knighted,” said 6-year-old Griffin Sharp, yelling in excitement, sure to be first in line at this year’s event.
All ages in attendance are guaranteed to have a great time.
Once everyone finishes their famous turkey legs and wanders deeper through the village, shows and plays begin. From realistic sword fights to extravagant royal encounters festival goers will feel as though they are actually apart of history.
This season of the Michigan Renaissance Festival will not be one to miss. With a new jousting crew joining the fest in full armor, they will ride their horses and spar each other ‘til the end. New musical and dance group PICTUS will also be joining the crowd featuring bagpipes and Irish dancing. Other returning acting and musical performances will be present as well, providing unlimited entertainment.
Marketing coordinator of the festival, Kim Heidger also said, “One of the exciting, new things we have coming is a craft beer conservatory.”
It will offer an hour-long class teaching the history, creation styles and tasting of craft beers—specifically aimed to keep the mature crowd amused.
Tickets range in price from $12.95 for children to $21.95 for adults and are worth every penny. For more information on purchasing tickets, season passes and special events of the festival, visit http://www.michrenfest.com/.