Faire season is upon us. Next weekend we begin travelling down to OKRF to work for T’ger Toggs. My wife works for him at KCRF, and we go down and sell a ton of clothes for him in the spring. We’ve had a few minor changes in our schedule due to other festivals and unmovable events. Of the six weeks that OKRF runs I will be down there three and my wife will be there five.
One of those events is the graduation of our daughter, also known as Claire Up There, from college. She will graduate with a Major in Spanish language and a Minor in Music. She is driven to exceed expectations and she certainly did. Next fall she will begin an ASL program and is looking to work as a translator in the future.
The other events are things I’ve done in the past and with COVID infections on the decline events are really ramping up. I’ll be back at the Renaissance Festival of Nebraska for one weekend in May (May 7-8), and I will be returning once again to the Great Bend June Jaunt event the first Saturday of June (June 4th).
Since Christmas, I’ve been working on organizing my magic library. I had run out of space on my previous bookshelves so I went out and bought a used set of three matching bookshelves. I’ve been working recently on cataloging the books in a format I can access online when I’m away from my office. This will be especially helpful when I’m at an event looking to buy books to make sure I’m not duplicating anything.
Anyway, I’ll see you around. Hope you enjoy the show.
The final weekend of the Kansas City Renaissance Festival was ahead. Anyway, renfest ended with more of a whimper than a roar. At least to me. There were no grand celebratory moments, nothing really exciting happened, it just happened. Steve said he really appreciated all the extra work I had done to get things ready for the year. We talked about a few things concerning the structure of the Tower. It’s fallen into disrepair because of the lack of maintenance done by KCRF. This is now not a surprise since we found out they thought the Tower belonged to us. We will probably spend some time and money next summer to remodel at least part of the Tower stage (the extra bit on the side) for storage. Next year will be his 40th year so he wants to do something big. I already emptied all of my gear out of the tower since I had a gig the following weekend (see below) so the only thing left is to take down the follies and the canvas over the stage.
Not quite Medieval Times…
We (Pastmagic Productions) were contacted several weeks prior about doing a Mother/Son Medieval faire like event in Columbia, MO. After my wife negotiated with me, we accepted. There were some changes along the way like they wanted me to do three 15 minute shows per session as opposed to my 45 minute show. Three sessions over a day and a half. We arrived Friday evening and it was an “event”. Held at the Boone County Fairgrounds Building, the planner had gone all out creating the atmosphere of a great hall in a castle. As the patrons entered the front doors they walked in to a smallish foyer made to look like the portcullis and drawbridge into the castle. Each child was given a gold bejeweled goblet filled with a drink. At first we thought it might be tea, but never found out what it actually was. It might have been Kool-Aid or Gatorade based on the color. Beyond that was a “lounge” area, with circular velvet couches and tables set up. This was also where the main stage with a gold throne was. This was also the stage for the two variety acts, myself and the sword swallower. When we weren’t on stage it was also a photo op.
To one side of this area was the feast area. Two long buffet tables with all sorts of kid friendly food down the center and tables with red satin tablecloths and gold candelabras on either side. At that end of the building was also a “snack” table filled with pre-packaged goodies like fruit and vegetable sticks, brownies, fruit snacks, etc. To the left was the “bar”. Water, soda, juice were all available. To the right of the feast area they had a photographer doing fun green-screen photos of anybody that wanted them. they even brought a green cloak so that, if someone wanted, they could do a disembodied head shot. On the other side of the “lounge” was the dance floor with DJ playing all sorts of modern dance music. A little disconcerting after coming from KCRF for seven weekends, but whatever. They also had stations for the kids to make stuff like a catapult out of rubber bands and craft sticks, writing a scroll, or decorating a crown. Then they had Skee-ball machines, foosball, and a bar shuffleboard table. Outside, they had several vendors with kettle corn and funnel cakes. There was also an outside lounge area with firepits and couches as well as inflatables for the kids to play in. There were also pony rides and suction cup archery. They even had a joust. Joust Revolution from Des Moines was there in the small arena and did one joust per session. We talked to them for a bit and they are down to earth people. The lead jouster is about our age and talked how, for some kids, this will be their only experience of this kind and he wants to instill in them honor and a sense of right over wrong. he talked about how their “bad” guy in the show isn’t really bad he just bends the rules in his favor. Good guy.
I learned a few things about my show from this event, the biggest is that I have routines that are way longer than I thought they were. I’ll work on tightening them up over the off season and hopefully I’ll actually script my show (or at lest all the routines) so I know what can go where.
And here we are…
The following weekend (Halloween weekend), we were back at the festival to take down the canvas and the shades. We talked again about repairs and updates we’d like to do, but not sure when or if they will actually get done. Again Steve thanked me for doing so much to get everything ready this year and we parted ways.
My wife and I took a small vacation in November and then Christmas prep began soon after. I had a good friend stop by the house and gift me several boxes of magic books and a couple of collectable magic posters. I’m already short on shelf space so it looks like I’m going to be doing some rearranging soon so everything has it’s place.
So as Christmas fast approaches and New Years is just around the bend, I want to wish all of you a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope next year finds you healthy and better off then you were this year. May COVID finally be controlled so that performers like myself can get out there, without worry, and bring a little joy into our audience’s lives.
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.
Since my last update in January, We’ve completed construction on my room. We haven’t come up with any clever name for it, it’s just my room or the magic room.
Here is the video I uploaded to Facebook a few weeks ago:
I got both my shots of the Pfizer vaccine and full efficacy will be May 8th. I’m an introvert and even I am looking forward to getting to be around people again.
Faires, Festivals, etc.
Made a brief trip to Central Missouri Renaissance Festival this past weekend. It was good to see many faces I haven’t had in person contact with for more than a year. I talked with the Entertainment Director there, and talks are underway to bring me to the event, maybe this fall after Kansas City (depends on timing), but definitely next spring. I feel I’m a good fit for the event and will bring some new energy.
One thing I did notice is that all acts had QR codes printed and placed near the front of their stages for touchless tipping. I’ll need to do that for Kansas City this fall.
I performed in March for the Kansas City Magic Showcase’s online show. It was a little rough, I admit, but I was working in a brand new space and had never worked for a camera before. Plus having no audience to work with it made things, for me anyway, more like demonstrating and not performing. I did an effect with new script, an old trick that always plays well (in person at least), an effect I tried at Renfest a couple of years back that I ended up dropping because it needed more work, and a completely new effect with mind reading. I went back and re-watched and there are certainly things I’ll do differently if the opportunity arises again.
My first live in person show this year will be at the June Jaunt in Great Bend, Kansas June 5th. I am excited and a little nervous since it’s been well over six months since my last in person performance. I know it will work out just fine, they love me down there. I am working on some new things to present and some old things in new ways.
I had thought I’d be up in Nebraska in May but because of a communication SNAFU on his end the entertainment director/owner didn’t think I was interested. He put me on the list for next year so we’ll see what happens.
I was asked this weekend if I thought Kansas City Renaissance Festival was going to happen this fall. I told him, and I believe this, that there is a very slim chance it wouldn’t happen. As vaccinations increase and new infections decrease in the area it will happen. It may look a bit different than previous years. Since it doesn’t start until September, it’s hard to say, but it may have social distancing rules, attendance caps, temperature checks at the entry points. Again, at that point it will be the “normal” we’ve all lived with for the last year and as things return to a new normal we will all adjust accordingly.
This last year has been hard for many of us that make a living being in front of people. Some will undoubtedly jump in with both feet the first chance they get. Some of us, like me, want to take it slow so that all precautions are taken to limit the spread of COVID and ensure the safety of our audiences.
I cannot wait to hear those words again…”Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Marvelous Matt!!!”
I realized it’s been a little over a month since my last post. I don’t really have much of an update. Work on my room continues slowly and we hope to have it finalized around the first part of February. It will be good to have a “place” in our home for my things. It will also be a place I can escape to when I need to work on something without the distractions the living room provides. I’ll also be setting it up as a virtual studio so I can start doing some magic online. Speaking of…
I was asked to perform for a virtual show for our local magic club but with construction dragging on and my stuff packed away I told them I wouldn’t be ready in time; maybe next month. I miss being able to perform. My last opportunity was in September when we filmed the Jolly Rogers show which was broadcast on Youtube in October. I posted about it last month.
I can’t wait for things to open back up and get closer to normal now that a vaccine is available. My wife already got her first dose because she’s on our local city council (continuation of government) but because I’m not in one of the “at risk” groups I probably won’t be eligible until late Spring/early Summer. Still I encourage everybody to follow health guidelines: wear a mask, stay socially distanced, wash your hands. Before long it will be over and we can get back to what is important to us.
Contacts are being made for the upcoming year. Spring shows are iffy because of the slow vaccine rollout, Summer shows are better but not guaranteed, Fall shows like KCRF will probably happen. I’ve already been told by one owner/operator in Iowa that even though we were good for them last year his regular people are coming back so they don’t need us. However, the show at the Bellevue Berry Farm outside Omaha is looking forward to having me back assuming they can open safely this year. I’ll keep you updated when I get dates secured.
There you have it, the post telling you all about the absolutely nothing going on in my life right now.