I am wearing a long green dress. After traversing across a dusty field toward a large castle, I am greeted at the gate by two friendly women wearing flowy shirts with corsets and long skirts. After being granted entrance at the gate, I stepped into a rambling village. There are a blacksmith’s forge, food stalls, shops with clothing and trinkets, and across the way I can see the outline of the actual castle. Visitors to the village walk around and explore this fascinating world, despite the early summer heat.
Am I actually back in 16th century England? No, I am at the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival, at the Castle of Muskogee. And you can be too!
Journey to the Ren Faire
This all started last year, when my mom and I drove past a billboard advertising the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival at the Castle of Muskogee. She pointed it out and said, “That would be fun to go to.” I agreed, and my plans spiraled out from there – I thought, That would be super fun. And then – If I go, I would want to dress up. I’d want to make my own outfit that looks like what people wore back then. Although Renaissance faire costumes do not have to be historically accurate, as they are often a mix of history and fantasy with a few modern conveniences thrown in, I am glad that I started out aiming for historical accuracy. My research led me to discover a previously unknown passion for learning about historical costuming. I checked out several books from the library, read some blogs, and watched YouTube videos. (There is a surprisingly large community of historical fashion enthusiasts and clothing makers, and I am now proud to count myself, in a small way, as part of their number.)
So, determined to make my own dress, I got a pattern, some fabric, and took some sewing classes. Many thanks go to Ms. Mary Perisho, my teacher and seamstress extraordinaire, for her assistance and sharing of sewing knowledge. She walked me through each step, and it is thanks to her that what I made ended up looking like an actual dress. (Perisho works out of a studio in Whitty Books, a small independent bookstore near Kendall-Whittier Square (2306 E. Admiral Blvd.), and can also be found online here).
At the OK Renaissance Festival
The Oklahoma Renaissance Festival takes place at the Castle of Muskogee every year. This is its 27th year. Billed as “Six weekends of merriment,” the event runs through the weekend of June 4.
While the location of the festival is called the Castle, the event mainly takes place in the village-like outdoor area around the castle. Visitors (many of whom come in costume, although it is not required) can roam among the shops that sell everything from kilts to helmets to giant turkey legs. Similar to at the State Fair, shows happen at designated times in certain areas, and people can stop to watch. There are acrobatics shows, falconry demonstrations, jugglers, plays, jousting, and more. One of the acrobatics’ shows was something called the “Wheel of Death.” No need to fear, it is not as terrifying as it sounds. But it can be dangerous for the man on it.
One thing that was nice to note was that there are a lot of benches and seating areas. This can be very helpful if you need to stop and adjust your outfit, eat a snack, or simply take a break. And as we head into summer, those breaks are often necessary. Bringing or buying a water-bottle is a good idea as well. A wide variety of food is also sold at the event – everything from funnel cakes to turkey legs!
So please, plan to visit the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival next year. You will even have a whole year to work on your costume!
One-day tickets are $24.95 for adults (age 18+), $14.95 for children (12 and under), and $22.95 for students (ages 13 – 17) or senior citizens (65+).
Also, for information about the themed weekends, see https://www.okcastle.com/themed-weekends/.