Since my last post in April things have been improving. In May my wife and I spent 5 weekends in Muskogee at the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival working for T’ger Toggs, a clothing retailer based out of Kansas City. It was very busy and people seemed enthusiastic about events opening back up. It started out with a mask mandate for participants unless you could verify your vaccine status and a mask recommendation to patrons. By the end of the run, the city of Muskogee’s mask mandate had expired so there were very few people wearing masks.
T’ger was very happy with how Muskogee turned out for him, even if he did have to work long hours during the week to rebuild his inventory.
June meant missing the last weekend of the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival and heading to Great Bend for the June Jaunt, an event held the first weekend of June in several small town along K-96. There were still concerns about social distancing and mask wearing which meant there were fewer vendors than normal. The layout this year, to me anyway, was all wrong. They had me on a temporary stage next to the courthouse where there was no shade. I ended up doing 2 of my three shows there and the final show of the day in front of my wife’s face painting tent (doodlefaceskc) in the shade. That last show ended up being the best show of the day and the small audience seemed to like it.
The rest of June was pretty quiet. I’ve been working on some stuff in my new Magic Room (Man Cave), but nothing that important. In July we made the annual trip up to the family cabin in Colorado and spent a day at the Colorado Renaissance Festival in Larkspur, CO about 45 minutes south of Denver. For us it was mostly a site seeing adventure. We’ve been doing Renfests for so long there isn’t much that is “new” to us. We did run into a vendor or two that we knew from Kansas City but other than watching a couple of shows it wasn’t that exciting. I don’t want to say that they don’t have a street cast, but the characters they do have are so spread out that they might as well not have anybody.
Late August I travelled to Las Vegas for the Magic Collectors Expo. Three days of informative lectures and a dealer room of all sorts of desires. I bought many books and a few poster recreations. The lectures covered all sorts of topics from newly discovered diaries of a young Alexander (before he knew) to the real history of Sawing a woman in half to feather flowers and quick change through history. The best part was the tour through The International Museum and Library of Conjuring Arts, David Copperfield’s private collection.
It’s hard to describe how breath-taking it truly was to walk through this treasure trove of magic history. Things I had only ever just read about I saw up close, props from touring shows of the late 1800’s – early 1900’s, costumes worn by famous magicians or their assistants, a recreation of Tannen’s magic shop in New York just like David remembered it. Amazing! I could have spent hours looking and reading all the tags but since there were so many of us we were guided through on a 90 minute tour in groups of 15. Still my mind longs to go back.
Kansas City Renaissance Festival
As we closed in on opening weekend, I spent a week and a half at the festival grounds getting the Tower ready. Steve usually helps but he was so overwhelmed with his other job that he didn’t have time to help. I made repairs and improvements to the tarp that covers the stage. Got everything hung and taut and it looks better than it has in years. Next year we will (I will) alter the tarp further so that it doesn’t sag in the middle like it does now.
Early in the run, one of the vendors near us was on site in the middle of the week when they heard management talking about the recent building inspections done by the city of Bonner Springs. Apparently ownership/management thought the tower belonged to us and wasn’t going to do any repairs to the structure. There are some cosmetic parts at the top of the tower that are rotting and falling off and were sited in the inspection and they wanted to know why it was on their report. I guess they know now.
Attendance has been down, or at least it feels like it. It’s definitely not the 15-17K average through the gate we used to get just a few years ago and nowhere close to the glory days of 28K+ that made it feel like you were packed tight as you walked through the lanes. Because of where we are on the festival grounds there has to be a certain number of people through the gate to “push” the crowd our direction. I mean I’m not complaining. The people that have come out have been great and Steve and I appreciate them sitting through our shows and leaving a little something in the basket before they leave.
We did have a scare at the tower. Steve got COVID so I immediately scheduled a test for myself. I was negative but Steve ended up missing a weekend so management brought in another magician from the St Louis area. He was definitely not Steve. I won’t mention his name here, but he was most definitely a kids show magician. The following weekend I learned that he was back on a different stage covering for another act that had to cancel due to COVID.
COVID is no joke. Mask up, get the inoculation, keep the people around you safe.
One weekend to go until we pack it all up for another year.
The weekend immediately following Renfest I travel to Columbia, MO to do several 15 minute shows over two days. It’s supposed to be Renaissance themed so it shouldn’t be a tough gig but 15 minutes for me is typically just the warm up.