Although Nashville’s massive “The Flood of the Century” managed to shut down the first weekend of the Tennessee Renaissance Festival, the Triune festival has been running at full tilt since then — literally! Live full-armor jousting is part activities which include Celtic, Scottish and period musical performances, comedy shows, juggling, knife throwing, archery, plays, games, rides, shopping, eating, activities for children, and the colorful pageantry of watching assorted pirates, peasants, lords, ladies and Her Majesty the Queen stroll through Covington Glenn. There is also a tour of Castell Gwynn, a real-life castle built on the property, which has to be seen to be believed. This year’s Ren Fair is even more special as it is the Silver Jubilee celebration of the festival’s 25th year.
When visitors cross the covered bridge into Covington Glenn, they are greeted by knights, fairies, wenches, and other characters. The winding paths through the woods of Covington Glenn take guests first to the colorful tent
marketplace where everything from art, jewelry, feathered fans, costumes, armor, swords, leather goods, pottery and other goods can be admired. Interspersed between the tents are booths full of interesting foods like chicken on a stick, turkey legs, pirogies, Scottish eggs, and other exotic fare, as well as hamburger, hot dogs and corn dogs. For the cost conscious, the average price for food is $6.
The marketplace gives way to stages where various musical, theatrical, comedy, and other performances take place. Between the stages are more food and shopping opportunities as well as rides and games of skill. Covington Glenn ends at the jousting field where several jousts take place each day, culminating in the tournament on the last weekend in May.
Last year the Ren Fest began a new and welcome tradition of adding a Shakespeare performance to the shows. Romeo and Juliet ushered in this new theatrical tradition. This year it is “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” It is a delight to see the plays out in the open in a Renaissance setting, and I have never enjoyed “A Midsummer Night’s Dream as much as I did at the Ren Fest. As a former high school English teacher, I can highly recommend this as a way to introduce Shakespeare to young people in a way that is palatable and entertaining.
Also new this year is the rousing bagpipe and drum show of SloanWolf, another welcome addition to the TN Ren Fest performances. From Scottish classics to “Amazing Grace,” this show has quickly become one of my favorites.
If you have never been to the Tennessee Renaissance Festival, I recommend it highly. Be forewarned there is some innuendo in much of the comedy as well as ale and spirits, so if you are bringing children be aware some of the entertainment is rated PG, and Axel the Sot is closer to an R for language, sexual innuendo and drinking content. However, the rest of the fair is a great place for families if you don’t mind the exposed bellies of the belly dancers and belly-dancer-wannabees.
The Tennessee Renaissance Festival is a pleasant diversion and another dimension to local entertainment which helps add to Nashville’s status as not just a honky-tonk country music town. The TN Ren Fest takes place every full weekend in May and on Memorial Day — 25 years and still going strong. Huzzah!
See my slideshow from the 2010 Tennessee Renaissance Festival (click here)
See my slideshow from the 2009 Tennessee Renaissance Festival.
More info at:
Tennessee Renaissance Fest Fun for the Family
Tennessee Renaissance Festival , Triune, TN
How to Attend the Tennessee Renaissance Festival
How to Prepare for a Renaissance Festival
Castell Gwynn in Tennessee
Renaissance Festivals in Tennessee
Shakespeare & Friends Celtic Renaissance Faire, Rogersville, Tennessee