Are you going to Scarborough Fair? We’ve got tips, discount information and more to make the most of your trip to North Texas’ most popular Renaissance-ish experience.
Sooner or later, almost everyone within a 40-mile radius of Waxahachie, Texas takes in the springtime event commonly known as Scarborough Fair. Now officially called Scarborough Renaissance Festival, the Renaissance-themed event has drawn fair goers to its shows, food, crafts and the spectacle of its always-in-character staff for more than four decades.
The festival is open for only eight weekends each year, so to help you get the most out of your trip, we spoke to Southwest Festivals Marketing and Communications Director Helaine Thompson to share with you the insider’s scoop.
Set in the rural area between Waxahachie and Maypearl, the festival grounds consist of more than 35 acres of castles, shops, eateries, stages and sights to be seen, with more than 200 buildings designed to replicate the feel of an English village.
“Having said that, it is a very easy site to navigate because of your setup like a figure eight. So it is very easy to get from one end of the festival and back again, because of the way it’s laid out,” says Helaine.
As you work your way around the park, you’ll see plenty of jugglers, belly dancers, vaudeville-esque comedians, courtly dancers and this year, a whip cracker, performing on various stages and at times walking within the crowds. What you won’t see are loudspeakers, electronics or anything else that distracts from the suspension-of-disbelief of this modern fantasy loosely based on the time of Shakespeare.
And, much of the entertainment is interactive. “What that means is you could actually become part of the show at some point. We have a performing company of over 75 people that really brings the the feel of this English village to life, and so you can encounter them everywhere you go,” Helaine says. “Our stage performers are not just way up there on the stage and you just watch them. At the end of the show, you can actually talk to them find out how they got into doing their entertainment. You might even be pulled up and be a part of their show.
“We have what we call the Birds of Prey show. And it’s a falconry exhibition. And what makes ours so unique is that is conducted by a wildlife conservancy out of South Texas. And this is a nonprofit organization that rehabilitate birds of prey and as able to release the majority of them back into the wild. So these are not pets. These are actually wild birds that are in the process of being rehabilitated, or they’ve been injured to the degree that they cannot be re released into the wild. These are experts in birds of prey and falconry and that whole world, and it is a wonderful educational experience that people can can partake in. And it’s been one of our most popular shows and aspects of the festival for many, many years.”
“The premise of our festival is a celebration that is visited by the royalty and reigning monarchs of that era,” Helaine adds. “This year, it will be Queen Margaret of Scotland and the Isles and she is King Henry the Eighth’s sister. And the lady who is portraying Queen Margaret is actually in her 25th year of portraying Queen Margaret. She knows all the historical background. She really embodies Queen Margaret and just does a phenomenal job.
“The vast majority of our entertainment is P.G. We do have certain entertainment that is geared just toward children, but on the flip side of that, we do have a couple of stages that are geared more toward mature entertainment. And we designate these as 16 plus, because they’re really geared towards an adult audience. And these entertainment acts take place near our pub area. It is very sophisticated humor, and so if adults are looking for that — to do little different things — they do have that,” she adds.
Food and Drink
For many fair goers, the whole attraction is the chance to walk around for a day eating a turkey leg or some other edible item skewered on a stick. Those options are available as always, but for those who’ve developed a healthier palate, the festival’s food court offers vegan and vegetarian options also.
“One of the things that people overlook sometimes is the foodie aspect of our festival,” Helaine adds. “We do have your funnel cake and we have pizza, we do have a corn dog. But outside of that we have very unique items. For instance, we have a pasta shop that makes handmade pastas every day of the festival. And they vary every day of the festival. And they are outstanding. He does everything from ravioli to just different types of pastas, salads, things like that — he has a different array. We also have our own bakery on site, and they start making pastries at four o’clock in the morning on festival days: pies, cakes, croissant. And you just don’t expect to find that at a festival. And so from a foodie standpoint, we do have a tremendous array of foods that you can enjoy and sample throughout the festival.
Beer and wine also flow copiously, and this year the fair will host beer and wine tastings every festival day.
“And what really makes these events unique is we do this twice a day — two beer tastings and two wine tastings. They are conducted by a certified cicerone for our beer tasting events. It is just a one-hour show, and you take six different beers. And is a wonderful one-hour education of the art of beer and learning how to taste it and the differentiations between the different beers, and every weekend is a different theme. So you have different selections of beers that will be tasted — the same thing happens with the wine.”
“The one new thing that’s happening this year is all of our food and drink booths will now accept credit card for the first time, so that is a big change from previous years. And we’re very excited about that,” Helaine adds.
Arts and Crafts
Throughout Scarborough Renaissance Festival, more than 200 shops offer handmade, period-specific items that range from clothing and jewelry to home decor and even musical instruments.
“And it is not just your regular arts and crafts show by any means. We are one of the largest outdoor jury craft shows in the country, which means that [the crafters] actually have to meet certain criteria in order to be accepted into the festival. And so it’s very unique crafts and art. And it’s everything from blown glass to metal works, to weaving to tapestries, just really unusual array of of materials and artistry that is seen at the festival. And in addition to that, we have over a dozen demonstrations by these artists taking place every festival day. So, you can actually see that these art pieces come to life as they’re creating them. You can also talk to the artists about what it takes to make such art and in their craft. And it’s interactive, but very unique and different than anything else you’re going to find in North Texas.
“We also have tremendous woodworkers. We have metalworks. We even sell swords and things like that. We have games, we have costuming, we have regular apparel that you can wear every day, not just at a Renaissance Festival,” Helaine says. “We also have two brand new henna artists coming in this year. And if people aren’t familiar with henna art, basically, it’s a non permanent tattoo. And they do these wonderful graphics and illustrations. And they’re just beautiful and they last about two weeks.
“We have someone who makes walking sticks; we have broomsticks. We have one shop — it’s called Wood, Willow and Whatnot, and [they make] birch-etched wood plaques and things like that. We have a wand maker and so we get very, very different types of art. So you can find so many different things as you go through these different shops.
Rides and Games
Scarborough Renaissance festival has just under a dozen human-powered rides, from the popular Crow’s Nest and jousting ride to a carousel and barrel ride. For game seekers, there’s a knife, axe or star throwing game, and darts along with archery, longbow and crossbow sports among the 21 total games of chance and tests of strength and skill.
“The games and rides are additional fee, but they’re very minimal. They range from $2 to $5. So it’s not a terribly expensive price. I will also tell you that most of the old games and rides are cash only. So people need to be aware of that. We do have six A.T.M.s on side if they need cash motor there but we highly recommend that you bring cash with you,” Helaine says.
Each of the eight weekends of Scarborough Renaissance Festival from April 9 – May 30, 2022 centers around a theme with special tours and other events.
April 9-10: Opening weekend
- Kid’s Free – Kids 12 and under get in free all weekend. Up to 3 kids with each paid adult. Kids 4 and under are always free.
- Senior Discount – Seniors 65 years old and older can get in for half price this weekend only when purchasing their tickets at the festival’s ticket office.
- Scarborough Quest – Travel back in time and become a part of the village of Scarborough.
April 16-17: Artisan Showcase
- Artisan’s Showcase On-Line Gallery – Vote for your favorite shoppe and get the chance to win a handmade basket filled with treasures from the Scarborough artisans.
- Shop and Win – Spend $350 at the festival shoppes and receive two complimentary tickets valid any day of the Scarborough Renaissance Festival 2022 season. Only purchases made this weekend qualify.
- Children’s Easter Scavenger Hunt.
- Renaissance Easter Service – 12:00 Noon at the Crown Meadow Stage on Sunday only.
April 23-24: Viking and Ale
- Adult’s and children’s costume contests – Vikings and other barbarians are invited to join in the fun each day.
- Royal Ale Festival – a tasting experience exploring eight new beer and ale varieties paired with lively entertainment and light snacks.
- Stein Holding Competition – See if you have what it takes to hold a beer stein longer than the rest to win your very own souvenir Scarborough Renaissance Festival stein.
April 30 – May 1: Live the Fantasy cosplay weekend
- Adult’s and children’s costume contests: Show off your best costumes and compete for the chance to win a Scarborough prize.
- Children’s Fairy Initiation.
- Spring Celebration: Join in the fun with the Villagers of Scarborough as they celebrate May Day and the beginning of spring by adorning themselves with beautiful flowers throughout the weekend.
- Deaf Day – Saturday, April 30, 2022. Special signed performances throughout the festival site, compliments of Hired Hands, Inc.
May 7-8: Celebrating Chivalry
- Vow renewal ceremony — couples are invited to join in to renew their wedding vows and commitments to each other.
- Chivalry lessons: the Knights of the Noble Cause demonstrate how to treat others in a chivalrous manner.
- Chocolate Sensations: discover luscious chocolates and how they pair with your favorite beer and wine.
May 14-15: Legends of the Sea
- Adult’s and children’s costume contests: pirates, mermaids, and all kinds of sea creatures are invited to join in the fun each day.
- Naval enlistment ceremony
- Pirate entertainment
May 21-22: Celtic Weekend
Celtic-themed contest and entertainment.
May 28-30: The Last Huzzah
- Historical tour of Scarborough.
- Topsy Turvy Day – Queens become beggars and villagers become kings in this day of topsy turvy on Sunday, May 29 only.
- Memorial Day Veterans Parade and Fallen Heroes Tribute at the conclusion of the parade on the Olde Chess Field. Monday, May 30 only. All active and retired military members are invited to receive a yellow sash to commemorate their service and to march in the parade following the presentation of colors.
Admission, Discounts and Additional Fees
Adult ticket price is $37 (For all 13 years old and older).
Tickets for children 5 -12 years of age cost $17.
Children 4 years old and under are admitted for free.
Two-day weekend passes are $61.
A child two-day pass is $40.
A season’s pass $160.
Group tickets are also available for groups of 15 or more: adult tickets are $32 each and children’s tickets are $15 each.
Tickets are available at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival ticket website or at the gate.
Discounts of $2-$3 on each ticket are available at all area Tom Thumb and Albertsons grocery stores.
Additional fees: Admission prices do not include ride fees, game fees or admission to wine or beer tastings, or other special features and events.
How to Get the Most of Your Day
The festival begins each day at 10:00 a.m., and to take in all that Scarborough Renaissance Festival has to offer, you’ll want to arrive early. Get there by 9:45 a.m. for a pre-opening show that occurs at the gates.
Helaine says that many people grab a schedule and try to create an itinerary for their stay. She says a better approach may me to just arrive with an open mind and take in the flow of the day.
“Scarborough can be a different experience based on who you come with,” she says. “If you have children, you’re going to experience things very differently than if you come with a group of adults or as a couple, because kids want to do things like our knighting ceremony each day. They love the games of skill and the Renaissance rides. We have a petting zoo, we have a walk through aviary — the kids tend to really gravitate toward those things where the adults might want to do a beer or a wine tasting. They will enjoy the shopping in a very different way than kids will. We do have some shops that are geared toward children and we have toys — we have costumes and things like that. But, the shops that adults will enjoy tend to be a little different than that. So again, there’s a little something for everyone. So, regardless what your ages, you can have a very fun experience just in different ways based on who you’re here with.
“One of the things that first-timers make the mistake of doing they come in and they get a schedule, because our programs are available at the gate as well as in our souvenir shops. People try to say, okay, I want to see this, this, this and this. And they spend their day running from one end of the festival to the other in one shot, and they miss a lot of what’s in between. I think the best way to experience Scarborough is to just wander because what happens is you kind of just come upon certain entertainment, you come upon different crafts, or an artisan demonstration. And that’s when you get the full experience of Scarborough — when you just discover things naturally as you go through the festival site. And that’s one thing that I think a lot of people miss.”