This season, I was able to be a part of the 9th annual Kentucky Renaissance Festival.
I mean, actually a PART of it. Not just a patron, not just a passerby. I was able to join up with the Henry County Arts & Crafts Guild and actually get a spot as a vendor selling prints of my photography there amidst the other craftsmen, entertainers, and regular cast. And it was amazing. Yes, I dressed up, and yes, I still took pictures. How could I resist? I used an old monk robe (a little out of period, but I was forgiven), and I even tried an accent for about an hour (and then I left that to the professionals...). A few people even took pictures of me, but I think they were just interested in the anachronism of seeing a monk wielding a telephoto lens. It DOES look rather hilarious. And awesome.
The greatest difficulty I had was attempting to balance my time as a twitchy photographer and a vendor with a table and shelves full of prints for sale. I would sit for an hour, patiently watching the cast and entertainers and patrons have so much fun on the thoroughfare, and nary an eye was cast toward my wares. Then I would grab up my camera, wander off and join the fun to capture images from the mud show to the musicians to the jousting to the gambolers - and someone would come up and tug my sleeve to let me know there was someone looking for me at my booth! And I would dash back to answer questions or even make a sale. Unlike many of the artists who were around me, I knew I was not going to be selling many pieces during my time at the Fair - there is no way to incorporate my art into a costume, and no one truly wants to carry around a canvas print all day! Instead, most of my sales would come in the months after as people wanted a physical souvenir of their favorite entertainers, and maybe a photograph of their own family in costume. One or two pieces would be sold on the spot, as an image would catch the eye and the patron would know exactly where it could brighten up their home, but those were rare and serendipitous moments.
So my booth served as a set of 'samples' and examples of what the images on the screen would look like, with all sorts of options for customization available if you choose to order something online. It also served as a shelter for when I got too hot, or just needed a rest from walking all over the fair site. After all, I was wearing very thin shoes and although the robe was well-made and comfortable, I was still basically wearing a blanket in 90 degree weather. Nevertheless, I find it hard to complain when there were elaborate gowns and period-specific tunics being worn by the cast, and full armor by the knights and other reenactors.
This next year will be the 10th Kentucky Renaissance Fair, and I'm looking forward to trying a few new things to celebrate. I will be in the same location, this time with very different prints that are exclusive to the fair. If all goes well, I will also have some special things available! Can you tell I'm excited about this?
Enjoy the images from this past season, and don't forget that there are Renaissance Faires near you across the nation, and even KY RenFair has events throughout the year.