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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

My First Weekend at RenFest

an intimate reading at my tent

I now have one weekend under my belt of RenFest experience. In the same week Otter and Arthur and the Sword in the Stone started rolling off the presses, I set up shop as a vendor at the Kansas City Renaissance Festival.

I was out there all three days of Labor Day weekend. That meant setting up in the rain on Saturday morning - and getting my car stuck in the mud. Crowds were a bit slower the first day as a result, but they picked up on Sunday and Monday, despite the heat.

My sales were pretty wimpy. I had a pretty bare tent compared to other vendors and don't have the in-your-face sales marketing tactics of so many RenFest merchants. Still, there's a certain amount of acceptance there on my part. It really comes down to my personal choices as to how much effort I put into trying to draw more attention.

a reading on the "big" stage

On the plus side, I got to do some readings. While they were to small crowds, they provided my highlights of the weekend. The best moment was when a nine-year-old boy asked me, "How do you become an author?" I somewhat flippantly replied, "Write, write, write," but tried to be encouraging as well. Luckily, he came by the vendor booth later and we talked more. When I signed his book, I added a note telling him I hope to buy his book someday.

It was also fun to interact with patrons and "RenFesters." There was the jester who kept stealing my things. The turkey leg salesman bought a book as a peace offering for his granddaughter. I spoke to someone who claimed to have met the reincarnated Merlin. I saw one of the jousters "after hours" in his street clothes cleaning up after his dog. I was just a few feet away from the elephant as he was led off the grounds. I got a glimpse into the Nomadic lifestyle of those who make a job out of this, traveling from one RenFest to another, living out of vans and on campgrounds.

my sons

In the end, I put a lot of work in for very little financial reward. However, reaching even one child with my writing makes it worth it. The memories and experiences I'll take away from RenFest will far outnumber the negatives. I am grateful to have the encouragement and support of friends and family and relish moments like connecting with a potential future author.

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