Elves, trolls, wizards and knights are just some of the characters that will be walking around Sedgwick County Park while music and the smell of firewood fill the air.
All of this is part of the Great Plains Renaissance Festival, which will be taking place this weekend. The event has a number of things in store for its expected 12,000 attendees including jousters, musical acts and fire breathers.
The festival itself has seen a number of changes during the past 14 years.
“We've grown each and every year,” says festival director Richard Cathey. “People come in at 11 and by 4 they still haven't done everything they’ve wanted to do.”
With 34 different types of acts this year, festival attendees will have a lot to choose from. Cathey gives his picks on what he thinks are some of the most exciting aspects of the festival:
- Jousting: described as the perfect “fusion of showmanship and the physical brutality, jousting is a staple at many renaissance fairs. The show will be put on by a troupe called Jousting Evolution. Cathey says that it may be part theater, but there is always an element of danger.
- Music: You can catch a whole host of musical acts at the festival, but 3 Pints Gone, a nationally known festival folk band, is set to make their debut at Great Plains. This act plays traditional Celtic music that hopes to make the audience feel welcomed.
- Comedy: The Scallywags, whose comedic antics are for all ages during the day, but around mid-afternoon these scoundrels will be hosting an 18+ comedy show with The Musical Blades and The Beerside Scoundrels.
- Cosplay: New to the festival this year is Medieval Cosplay Costume Contest.. With costumes growing more and more lavish because of cosplay, a costume contest is prime for a debut at the festival. Cathey describes the contest as kind of a Lord the Rings meets Braveheart. Participants have a shot at a cash prize of 100 dollars. Awards for most creative and most popular will also be given.
- Film: Attendees will also have the chance to help Black Raven Comics with a new short film project entitled Stormhammer SAGA: Dawn of the New Viking Age. The studio is teaming up with local film producers and talent to put together the project. Visitors can stop by and find out how they can be in the film.
- Weddings: The Great Plains Renaissance Festival means a lot to many people. So much so that there are a few people that decide to have their weddings during the event. You can witness the medieval matrimony at high noon on Sunday.
The festival also offers entertainment in the form of a royal parade, fire breathing and falconry. Participants can watch more than 60 artisans and craft vendors create handcrafted armors, swords, incenses, jewelry and ceramics.
You can experience the festival at stages that are set up around the park, but those only serve as a focal point to the event. While roaming around you can experience a mermaid and an 8-foot tall woman dressed up as Mother Nature. You don’t have to go in costume but, according to director Richard Cathey, those that dress up have the most fun.
The Great Plains Renaissance Festival takes place this weekend in Sedgwick County Park. The festival is open from 10am-6pm and tickets are $11 for adults and $5 for kids. You can get a discounted adult ticket for $7.50 if you order in advance on their website. Each advance adult ticket purchase comes with a free kids ticket.