MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Features

May 2, 2013

Renaissance Festival lets visitors step back in time

'You can escape reality'

— From the falconer showing his birds of prey to the knight in shining armor on his steed, you’ll experience it all at the 18th annual Oklahoma Renaissance Festival at The Castle of Muskogee.

Matt Hiller, vice president of The Castle, said about 70,000 people are expected to take the trip back in time from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each Saturday through June 2. The festival features about 600 stage and street performers wandering through Castleton Village just as they might have in 16th-century Renaissance England.

Hiller said the festival will have several new additions including a boardwalk, the Mermaid Grotto and fairy houses.

“The little houses have stairs and windows,” he said. “A tree with a hole or knot might have a door on the side.”

It all adds to the enchantment of the village.

“It’s a ton of fun,” Hiller said. “You can escape reality. Everyone loves the code of chivalry, knights and the largest birds of prey show in the U.S. There are owls that are 3 to 4 inches to big African birds. There’s an owl from Russia that’s huge.”

The birds of prey are introduced by Bob Anonsen of Coweta at 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. each Saturday. His show includes “conservation, education and demonstration,” he said. While holding one of 20 different birds or having one fly by, Anonsen discusses why birds of prey are important to ecology:

“They are at the top of their food chain and keep other animals in Oklahoma in check, especially rodents.”

The birds come from all over the world. The sharp shinned hawk is the smallest in North America. It weighs half of the meat in a Quarter Pounder, he said. The largest is  a Eurasian eagle-owl, which comes from Europe, Asia and Africa, he said.

Anonsen is licensed by the state to rehabilitate the birds. He said his appearance at the Renaissance Festival is “an excellent opportunity to spread the good news about birds of prey.”

New acts include Bawdily Harm, a comedic show with swordplay; Ed “Cheeks” Miller, performing acoustic music of Irish and sea songs; and Black Oak Shillelagh, performing Irish and Scottish pub music with guitar, fiddle, whistle, bodhran, and Celtic vocals. The entertainment is on 15 stages.

There are new merchants including St. Sadie’s Soaps; Land of Merriment, which sells children’s clothing; Venetian Studios, where visitors can be photographed in Renaissance attire; Grumpy Old Weaver; the Cappuccino Inn; and a new two-story Turtle Island Moccasins shop. Fine arts can be found at Original Art & Prints by Ruth Thompson. Children can mine for pirate treasure at Captain Roughknuckles.

Hiller said the King’s Stables have been remodeled, allowing horses to enter through the center of the stables when getting ready for the jousting.

Between the entertainment and education, there are plenty of places to stop and shop for hand-crafted goods and stop to sip some ale or snag a fire roasted giant turkey leg.

The Castle promotes the festival as entertainment fit for royalty.

If you go

WHAT: 18th annual Oklahoma Renaissance Festival.

WHEN: 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. each Saturday through June 2 plus Memorial Day, May 27, and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. May 10 for Student Day.

WHERE: The Castle of Muskogee, at U.S. 69 and Fern Mountain Road.

TICKETS: Start at $12.95 for adults and $5.95 for children and are available at www.okcastle.com or at the gate. Two-day passes also available.

INFORMATION: www.okcastle.com or (918) 687-3625.

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