By Marlena Solomon, Marketing Communications Manager
Opening weekend at the festival is typically hot and it did not disappoint this year. Oktoberfest and lederhosen greeted us with temperatures in the mid-80s, and patrons were at the gate early to revel in the 46th season of TRF. Historically attendance is higher on Saturday than Sunday. There were just over 11,200 on Saturday and roughly 7300 on Sunday bringing the total to over 18,000 for the weekend. Not bad considering we were open at half capacity.
I was sitting in the TRF main office when I got a call from a Bryan news station that a fire was reported at the festival. I text the Vendor Manager and she confirmed. I stayed at the office fielding calls and emails from media and prepared a statement for the press that was to meet at the Todd Mission City Hall.
Three shops were lost, and two others sustained damage. It could have been a lot worse if it wasn't for the nearby vendors, onsite workers, site maintenance team and volunteer fire departments who responded quickly. Crews stayed through the early hours of the morning, so the area was free of debris and a fence was put up where the three shops once stood.
Fortunately, Daedalus Consortium was able to move to a temporary shop site for the rest of the season, and New Wineskins leather who was able to save merchandise, but sustained damage was able to reopen a few weeks later.
The Traveler's Basket
Due to capacity limitations and social distancing, the King's Feast was not able to open this season. Initially there was a King's Feast with expanded options such as wine tasting, VIP seating at the Sea Devil and concierge service, but with tables sold only to groups of four and six, the Merchant Prince decided to change direction. The Traveler's Basket was introduced - it included all the delicious food you would normally get at the King's Feast including your choice of beverage. Patrons selected the time they wanted to pick up their basket, and although it was billed as a meal for two, it easily fed four adults. With its success in 2020, the Traveler's Basket is set to return along with the King's Feast for 2021.
The Expansion Area
We opened the new expansion area as planned in 2020 with the impressive Pirate Museum and the Dragon Tower slide and the new Forest Gazebo stage as anchors. Additionally, there was the new tastings area, the Airy Botter Escape Room and new and guest vendors filling out the new area. It was also the new location of the daily facemask and costume contests where there was plenty of creativity on hand.
Wyrmwood Public House
If you didn't get a chance to go to The Green Hour at the Wyrmwood Public House, or just head up the stairs for one of their craft cocktails, you missed out! For 21 and over only, The Green Hour was an extremely well-produced and performed show from start to finish. It's the kind of show that you didn't want to end as the cast was taking their curtain call. The upstairs balcony was not only a great place for watching the parade, but people watching as well!
We were fortunate to have great weather for eight weekends. We weren't so lucky for the final weekend that was cold and rainy but cleared up on Sunday for one last Huzzah as the final firework burst into the night sky.
There are so many magical things that happened at the festival this year - too many to name here unless you want to read a never-ending blog post!
What we were most thankful for this year is that we were able to open for the season and remain open for nine weekends. For our patrons, but also for our performers, performance company, artisans, and shop owners many of whom hadn't worked since March. It was a joy to walk the lanes and hear the hawkers, laughter in the lanes and applause at the performance venues again!
While shops have been closed-up for the season, we are working to prepare for the opening of our 47th festival season on October 9. See you for opening cannon!