Rides and Tales

Observations From Behind Bars

Celtic Weekend

with 3 comments

Well, I reckon that since I’ve announce my safe return to the third world, it stands to reason that, once again, I have ventured forth, accompanied only by my faithful Indian guide,
Lucky Woman, into America. Since we had such a great time at the Texas Renaissance Festival, last year, we decided to give it another shot, this time for “Celtic Weekend”.

We took both my Honda Valkyrie and her Honda Magna but, for some reason, I still ended up with just one saddle bag for my stuff. Rather than using my old Bates trunk, we put Jill’s Nelson-Rigg bag on my bike. This is a great piece of luggage that carries very nearly as much as the trunk.


We had a great ride up to the festival grounds in the general area of Conroe, TX, with sunny skies, no wind and mild temperatures. There, we pitched our mobile home amongst the pines, oaks and sycamores.


After the sexy granny worked her magic over the camp stove, we settled and enjoyed the eve, Jill toasting her forbearers with their namesake drink.
(Some of her ancestors were Scots who expatriated to France and remained.)


Later the wind turned north, gusted some, and the temperature dropped.

We turned our heat on.

Camp bustled, Saturday morn, since New Market Village opens its gates at 9:30 and many of the attendees don authentic period clothing, or other costumes, beforehand. Jill wore an ensemble she had made some time back that is inspired by traditional highland dress. I, on the other hand, was garbed as an Irish lout from county Nueces.

Now, going to the Festival is an all day affair with lots of stuff to see and do so it was my good fortune to be accompanied by an organized kind of gal.
Jill had perused the schedule, formulated a plan, and off we went to the jousting arena. The arena is divided into sections, French, English, German and Spanish. This year we decided to be German and when we saw our champion ride we knew we’d made a sound decision. His winning the “fight to the death” had nothing to do with his, or the other riders’, skill, of course.

The knights are very talented riders and risk actual injury putting on the spectacle.

Sir Otto

Of course, no sporting event is complete without cheerleaders.

There are open-air taverns and amphitheaters in the town each showcasing different types of entertainment. I liked the bawdy “Iris and Rose” who tell people before the show, “If you have young children… leave.” They sang a song about Old MacDonald’s deform farm which includes a sex-addicted pig (“with a boink-boink, here and a…”; you get the picture).

Jill, on the other hand, preferred the Ded Bob Show. Ded Bob is a skelton puppet whose ventriloquist is dressed as the grim reaper, including a mesh that hides his face. Ded Bob is big on audience participation and we helped him sing about Old MacDonald’s farm, as well. In this case he had a dyslexic cow, ( “with an omo omo here, and an omo omo there… ; you get the picture).
We saw the Mud Show and a haggis eating contest, too, that’s what I’m talking about!

From Jeff Smith’s The Frugal Gourmet On Our Immigrant Ancestors:
Traditionally, a Haggis is made from the lung, liver, and heart of the sheep. These are mixed with oatmeal and a few spices and stuffed into the sheep’s stomach. After being boiled, the Haggis is brought to the table with a great deal of ceremony.


I heard it described as “Scottish boudin” but it tastes somewhat like liver.


Another very cool event was the Highland Fling dance contest. No ringers, here, the dance mistress instructed the contestants in basic moves just before the music started.
These youngsters looked like they borrowed their sisters’ Catholic school uniform, but they got right down in t he thick of things and one of the boys was third-to-last to be tapped out.


Later, the lady told me they were concerned that observing wouldn’t be as much fun as participating. I told her not to worry on that count.

Highland Fling contest

While we were in the Sherwood Forest section, we decided to walk through the Garden that runs along a creek.


Soon after entering, we encountered this couple who played while she sang a Gaelic song with a sweet voice.


In the Garden there are statues and oddities set along the creek and small niches set into the forest on the other side of the path.


The niches contain statues, amazingly unusual folk art constructions and artful benches for walkers to sit on while they admire the works.


After enjoying a walk through the Garden, we headed over to admire the chapels . That’s right, there are small chapels  built in the town, unusual ones, unlike the one you sing in on Easter and Christmas.


I like this one, the “Cathedral Wedding Chapel”, because it reminds me of a Viking Church.


I caught a young couple having a kiss at the alter but could neither get a good shot nor warn the lad in time. He’s on his own.

Outside, one of the many wandering fiddlers played.


I think she played a viola but not for the actual wedding that began in there, minutes later.

The “people watching” at the Renaissance Festival is worth the price of admission. A lot of time and effort and research are invested in the costumes.


There were many dressed as pirates, both male and female. Grace O’Malley is probably the most famous woman pirate. I’m told many pirates were Scottish or Irish.
Wow, there’s a shocker.

You must watch out for this crew, in particular. They are prone to break out in sea chanties at the pop of a cork.


Fairies are always popular even though they are naughty or, perhaps, because of that.


Some characters were more sinister, reminding us that by the light, there is always shadow.


This guy could scuttle like nobody’s business

These folks aren’t just a bunch of show ponies, though.


They preserve and pass on a love of tradition, quality and craftsmanship and knowledge.

I overheard one shining example of public education decrying the Asian influence of some of the art objects, asking what this Hindu or Chinese stuff was doing in a Renaissance garden. For that matter, ‘what was with all that German stuff doing in the Renaissance? And ‘why was there Mexican music playing, what did that have to do with anything?’
Seems the lad didn’t know that the Renaissance, the revival of art and learning, was a time extending from medieval to the modern age, that Germans were major players in it, or that artists drew on influences from the far reaches of the world.

Later, I heard a traditional polka being played at a food vendor.
I guess the accordion threw him off not knowing that “Mexican music” is sometimes defined as ” German polkas played on stolen instruments” . That is, he has no grasp of history.


As darkness fell, we headed back to the jousting arena for the finale. King Henry thanked us for coming, then with a fiery fountain sparkler lit burning designs on the ground, Saint Andrew’s Cross and the Circle of Life.


Then he lit the fuse on a cannon and its report was answered from across a pond. The band, “Tartanic” began playing stirring bagpipe and drum music while a gorgeous display lit the sky.


We weary time travelers wended our way back through New Market, slowed by the distraction of others who weren’t so quick to quit.


Later, we wandered the campfires, a little, but the cold night air seemed to have kept the revelers in and , after a while, it drove me in as well.
Sunday morning, we had time for a leisurely camp breakfast before we folded our tent and headed south.

The road goes on forever.



Written by fiddle mike

November 17, 2008 at 10:46 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Fun read. Sounds like the Texas fest might be bigger than the Concord NC Renn Fest that we have. But that makes sense, everything is supposed to be bigger in Texas.

    Big IV

    November 18, 2008 at 12:51 pm

  2. You look just darlin in that pic Mike! We haven’t seen you in a coons age…been playing at the bookstore? I
    want to thank you for the picturesque description of the Ren Faire. The hubby and I had planned to attend, it being near our anniversary, but we ended up spilling all his hard earned cash into another vehicle, (ole Bess kicked the bucket). So, what a treat to have such a wonderfully descriptive oratory of you and Mizz Jill’s trip, plus pics! I’m glad you guys got to go, had fun, and p.s. why do those bloody Scots try to put oatmeal into EVERYTHING??? hugs and hope to catch up with the yeller bike soon. Shelli & Greg (a.k.a. beauty *& the beast)


    November 18, 2008 at 2:36 pm

  3. As always – a great read with beautiful pictures..

    It truly makes me feel as if I had partaken in the Fest myself.

    I have often wondered what those fine gents wear under their kilts… perhaps I really should have gone there with you and your beautiful Jill.

    Perhaps next year.

    Much love and many thanks for sharing your adventure… I sometimes live thru your eyes, soul and heart…

    Bless you my dear Handsome Fiddler.

    exes and ohs



    November 18, 2008 at 10:29 pm

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