Another passing year of crops and its time to gather ‘round the pubs, shoppes, taverns, and arenas: it’s time for the Sherwood Forest Faire! Hidden just quarter-suns travel eastbound from Austin, it’s March again and the enchanted forest has opened itself once again for visitors! Jousters, bar maidens, bards, and even magicians scurry from across the globe to delight themselves in the festivities and to host plentiful guests.
At 10 in the morn, the enchantment lifts itself off the front gates to allow in all those ready to revel. If you arrive with an appetite make your way to The Lowland Café & Bakery Annex to start off with hot coffee and pastries that won’t make you crave a second breakfast!
A short stroll will take you to The Elven Hill Stage, where a good commencement to the day is enjoying the marvels and hilarity of Thomas Wood, the Pyrojuggler! Thomas Wood will dazzle you with his flawless juggling skills, fun wit, and interactions with his audiences. He was so marvelous, I sat for his show twice on Saturday.
I strolled over to Sweet Lolli’s Magical Treats and procured a small bag of confectionaries and chocolates, while there you can peruse the pecan and espresso offerings behind the glass, and others from a far-away campus of “Hogwarts”.
If you require a balance that isn’t purely sweet, the Kettle Corn Stand just north of the Jousting arena provides both King or Queen appropriate snacks. There’s nothing quite like salt, butter, sugar, and popped corn for nibbling while witnessing the glorious sport of jousting (which contests itself thrice daily!) followed by a full tankard of glorious ale. If something meatier is desired, the classic Turkey Leg or a steak on a stick awaits around many corners.
The offerings of liquid libations are plenty and well-spread, if you go dry, the many paths to refills are always close by. They offer a variety of ales, meads, wines, or even cider. While your drink is full, stumble over to The Three Stags Pub and enjoy the naughty adventures in song with Opal and Jade. Before leaving you’ll find yourself humming or chanting a variation of a chorus or two they’ll teach you.
For those more inclined to instrumental tunes, The Dublin Harpers are a wonderful family that creates their own harps and employ each family member on The McGillicuddy Stage. I must include The Washing Well Wenches, as the humor is dirty and clean, just like their laundry!
Many choices abound for everyone, the younglings can take up practice in their Marksmanship with a bow and arrow, artistic Faeries that make magic with a brush and face paint, and seeing the sensational falconry of Sir Robert Cheseman with his command over his winged companions. But no, that is not all, there are rides scattered across all of Sherwood, a maze, large swings, and more than one variation of carousel.
Large or small, big or tall, all should come to visit the Sherwood Forest Faire before the forest closes itself up for another year. If the opportunity is present, give the camping an effort and make new friends amongst the grounds at night after the gates seal for the evening. The spirit of Faire has the magic in bringing us together new and old. Blessings and safe travels to the ladies and lords that make their way to and from the grounds.
I want to also mention, there is another much larger festival held in the latter part of the year in Todd Mission, Texas simply called Texas Renaissance Festival. While I have gone many times to it over a decade, the smaller scale of Sherwood Forest Faire is a good draw for those apprehensive about larger crowds and also those who want to spend less. I think SFF is a great first experience for those interested since it isn’t as overwhelming but still very satisfying as you won’t tire out as quickly. Also, many of the same performers do both and since the crowds are smaller, I found it much easier to hear them at Sherwood.
FMI: Official Sherwood Forest Faire Website (directions, tickets, questions, weekend schedules, camping information)