Even while soldiering through power outages and pandemics, many locals are still readying for part two of Scarborough Renaissance Festival’s 40th anniversary, which begins April 10.
Like most shows, last year’s celebration ended before it began. However, tickets for this year's festival are now up for grabs, offering an anniversary edition with new shops and events as well as some of ye olde favorites.
"We are excited to open shop,” says Liza Sullivan, who along with her husband, Jerry, runs Wood, Willow & Whatknots, which specializes in scents, wood burned art, organic soaps and the like.
“We have friends that have done this show for a long time,” she says. “Everybody loves this festival.”
Liza says she got involved with fairs 30 years ago and was a strolling minstrel playing guitar and singing Irish, Scottish, English, Celtic- type music before meeting the shop’s former owner.
“In the off-season, when I didn’t have performances, I would work for him,” she says, adding that she later landed a chance to buy the fragrance part of the business.
“We’ve been doing it full-time ever since” she says, noting that she and Jerry currently handle about half a dozen shows annually, plus the website.
Incense oils are bestsellers, but “jewelry, it’s a bonus because it’s something we love to do,” says Jerry, who also loves to draw and creates an assortment of hand-burned clocks, plaques, vases, incense boxes and other items.
“I do lots of coats of arms, wedding items, autograph boards,” he says while giving a rundown of how visitors at an event will sign a board; he’ll hand-burn the signatures onto the wood, then frame it.
Angelica Morgan, 28, a cast member at the festival before becoming director of the Scarborough Academy of Performing Arts a few years ago, says she believes folks will enjoy a chance just to get away.
“I really think [the] festival this year is going to positively affect the general morale in the DFW area,” she says. “There’s not a whole lot going on entertainment-wise. It’s going to be a much needed escape.”
Morgan first attended the SRV as an 8-year-old with her dad, she says. Later, she met a guy in high school who was interested in acting at the festival so she became more “involved in those things so we could spend more time together.”
It worked out rather well, she says, as they’re now married.
Morgan also recalls the sad cancellation of last year’s festival.
“For us, the thing we have to show for it is people being happy and being excited,” she says. “But we didn’t get that. What we got to see was people on social media being sad because we weren’t opening. So many people, this is what they look forward to all year long.”
She says it was “disheartening to see that stripped from everyone,” but at the same time, it was encouraging to see people bond together and support one another on social media. They talked about the things they would’ve done and what they missed, and tried to lift each other’s spirits at a time when they should’ve been happy together but were separated physically.
While planning for the 2021 season — everything from an all-new mask contest during opening weekend to a historical tour finale — Morgan says the festival’s management has “done everything they can” to ensure the safety of everyone involved with the festival.
“It sucks that we had to push it off, our 40th anniversary, but it is what it is and everyone is doing the absolute best they can given the situation.”
The experience is really about “just getting to see the small impact you have on making [someone’s] day better,” she says. “Coming to the festival is an escape, a few hours of putting away all the things you’re worried about and just enjoying yourself.“
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.