dragons in spotlight
at Renaissance Faire
structures to be built in
Henry County for summerlong activities
Helen E. McKinney
EMINENCE, Ky. (February 2006) Agri-tourism
has come to Henry County in the form of the Highlands Renaissance Festival.
This family-oriented event carries the theme of a medieval faire and
is projected to bring commerce and industry to the county for six consecutive
weekends this summer.
photo by Helen E. McKinney
jousting event takes place at last years Renaissance Festival.
are expanding the program in 2006.
Along with his wife, Linda, Ed Frederick is general manager
of Kentucky Renaissance Faire, LLC. This is the organization responsible
for staging the Highlands Renaissance Festival, which will portray a
county fair of the 1300s. Many refer to such events as a Ren.
Faire, where a living history village will be constructed to showcase
history, art, music and all manner of things reminiscent of the medieval
It is a form of agri-tourism, offering period food, wares, acoustic
music, games, comedic skits, singalongs and jousting events that were
all common to the Renaissance period of English history. Vendors will
travel from California, Colorado, Virginia, Minnesota and elsewhere
to participate, organizers say.
The Ren. Faire will occupy several permanent structures, including a
dining pavilion, stages and a jousting field. Fifty percent of the booths
will be permanent. An eight-foot fence will be constructed around the
complex that will operate from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every Saturday and
Sunday from June 3 through July 9.
The Ren. Faire will be located on 117 acres on Hwy. 22 on the outskirts
of Eminence, Ky. The land is owned by Gene Halloway, and only 25 acres
will comprise the living history village. The rest of the acreage will
be used for parking, vendor camping and a farmers market.
Frederick had searched for a site and found Henry County to be the
best demographically. A Midway, Ky., resident, Frederick said
this would be the only permanent site faire in Kentucky.
The University of Kentucky School of Design, Department for Historic
Preservation, has designed this project based on various bits
of streetscapes of old cities in Europe, said Frederick. Activities
will take place in the center of the village, with booths on the outside.
This spoke design will make it unique, said project manager Michael
Spencer. He said the layout differs from other Ren. Faires, and Frederick
was easy to work with and open to new, cooperative ideas for the project.
Spencer said the UK School of Design tackled this project from a historic
preservation angle, incorporating the historical character of
medieval buildings all over Europe, yet with a modern design.
A Main Street area lined with stores will lead to a market area, which
will branch out to larger exhibit areas.
Being preservationists, Spencer said his UK design team wanted to preserve
historical accuracy, while Frederick also wanted a realistic Ren. Faire
that would draw modern-day residents and tourists to Henry County. There
is a thin line between accuracy and the fantasy world, said Spencer,
but he hopes this is meshed through the design of the Ren. Faire Village.
Spencer said a number of Ren. Faire sites were visited to bring validity
to the faire. He said Frederick pushed to keep the park-like setting
of the area. This environment contains trees, a creek and a winding
road leading to the village that is a prelude to what lies ahead on
the site. When complete, this will be a viable park we want people
to come to and have fun, said Spencer.
Frederick takes an active part in recreating history himself by re-enacting
anything Scottish, he said. He and his wife are Lexington,
Ky., natives, and having lived elsewhere, they realized first-hand that
this is a very big thing in other parts of the country,
Along the I-71 corridor from Louisville to Cincinnati are a lot of different
historical events and festivals, said Frederick. Its amazing.
A lot of people have to travel out of state, to view and actually
participate in these events, he said. There are about 168 Ren. Faires
in the United States.
Spencer said Frederick wanted to promote the living history aspect of
this project for the school systems. Frederick was concerned with the
accuracy of the buildings so that students could study the architectural
elements of the time period.
Pat Wallace, executive director of the Henry County Chamber of Commerce,
visited a similar Ren. Faire in Ohio when she taught senior English.
It gives you a better feel for the time period, she said.
Its hard to sit in 2006 and imagine life in the 1300s.
Her students were able to view Shakespeare and the Knights of the Round
Wallace said this Ren. Faire is a wonderful fit for the
county because it is such a historical area. She hopes Henry County
history will take its place among the various historical portrayals
Tim Abrams, superintendent for Henry County Public Schools, said the
Ren. Faire will be an awesome opportunity for our students and
students in surrounding areas. They will have the ability to experience
that era of time in our own county.
In the past, high school students have traveled to the Ohio Renaissance
Festival in Harveysburg, Ohio, a Ren. Faire-type amusement park for
a day-long field trip. The trip to this site north of Cincinnati provided
real-life historical experiences, while fulfilling Humanities curriculum
guidelines, said Abrams.
Abrams doesnt see a single disadvantage to the Ren. Faire, calling
it good, clean fun for families in the area.
Special events are in the planning stages for other times of the year
also, to make the best use of the site. A Halloween Fall Festival will
give the village a spooky, haunted atmosphere, and local artisans can
sell their wares during a Christmas in the country-themed event. Frederick
said he would even like to do some type of a Charles Dickens Christmas
event with a feast.
Approximately $70,000 to $75,000 will be set aside for advertising,
officials saud. Such heavy advertising will promote the Ren. Faire in
trade publications, television, radio, billboards and newspapers.
This project is sure to boost tourism and the county economy, providing
seasonal and full-time jobs. Local businesses are expected to benefit
as well, with the camped vendors spending money on gas, groceries and
restaurants. Frederick said he is hoping to offer season passes for
the living history village. Admission will be $12 for adults and $6
For more information, visit: www.kyrenfaire.com.
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