Arts & Culture News

Scarborough Festival Community Rallies Around Costume Business Following Electrical Fire

courtesy Scarborough Renaissance Festival
Pendragon Costumes is without a space to sell their wares because of an electrical fire that started Tuesday afternoon.
An electrical fire that started Tuesday afternoon destroyed a two-story building on the site of the Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie and left the costume company Pendragon Costumes without a space to sell their wares.

The festival's loyal community rallied troops to make sure that Pendragon will have whatever they need to operate by the festival's opening day on Saturday, April 8.

Helaine Thompson, the head of public relations for the festival, says faulty electrical wiring started a fire sometime between 3:45 and 4 p.m. Tuesday in the 600-square-foot, two-story building occupied by Pendragon Costumes. Crews from several nearby volunteer fire departments were able to contain the blaze in just under 30 minutes.

The fire destroyed the costume shop's two-story building and also caused "moderate damage" to an adjacent building occupied by a shop called Broom Sticks that Thompson describes as "definitely repairable."

Thompson says no one was injured and Pendragon did not have any of the apparel they planned to sell at the festival in the building before the fire started.

"We're very thankful that only one structure was destroyed and no one was injured," Thompson says.

The fire left Pendragon Costumes with the difficult task of finding a new site with just 23 days to go before the festival's opening day, and it couldn't have happened at a worse time. Pendragon Costumes' founder and owner Nicole Fullerton wrote on Pendragon's Facebook page that the 27-year-old company has gone through some tough times this past year that required them to do "more sales, promotions and fundraisers than I care to think about."

"People are commenting on this and other pages that booths can be rebuilt, but the personal items that were lost are irreplaceable," Fullerton wrote in her post. "While that is absolutely true. It costs money to rebuild booths. A lot of money. Money I simply don’t have."

That's when the rest of the Scarborough Renaissance Festival leaped into action.

The festival's community started taking up a collection for Pendragon so they could set up another booth at the fair before opening day. The fundraiser appeared on the crowdfunding website YouCaring with a donation goal of $25,000. As of Wednesday afternoon, the fundraiser has received more than $10,700 in donations from 183 supporters.

Thompson also says that festival organizers are working with Pendragon Costumes to find a new space for them in time for the start of the festival.

"Fortunately, none of their apparel was in the shop at the time," Thompson says. "So they will be able to participate in the 2017 season, and we're working with the owners of the shop to set them up and move them to different location so they can still participate in the festival."

Marita Beth Caruthers, the longtime manager of Pendragon Costumes who has been an active participant of the Scarborough festival since 1995, says friends, fellow business owners and complete strangers have not only offered to help with donations but they've also offered to donate other items that the shop might need during the festival such as tents and mirrors.

"It is overwhelmingly heartwarming to see the amount of people who have donated, commented and sent me and Nicole private messages," Caruthers says. "The people's support has been amazing and it's so nice to feel that love."

Fullerton also expressed her heartfelt thanks to the Scarborough community for their efforts to help Pendragon Costumes get back on their feet.

"The people that work for me are truly my family and Marita Beth, although most call her sister, is something closer than sister to me," Fullerton wrote. "I’m not even sure what that would be, a piece of my soul perhaps? She has been on this roller coaster ride with me from practically the beginning. And I hadn’t realized until just this moment how much Scarborough Faire [sic] was the foundation of that relationship."