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Houston's Fair Play
Fancy some feast food, a little swordplay, and maybe a nice, friendly joust? Then you might try traveling back five centuries at the Texas Renaissance Festival, conducted each year 50 mi outside of Houston. Each year more than 300,000 people attend the enormously popular festival, staged during eight weekends in October and November. Some go for the pleasure of tearing into a turkey leg, hefting a tankard of ale, and taking in fully costumed jousts conducted each weekend day. Others like the live performances—like glass blowing, minstrel music, and juggling.
The festival has grown from its humble beginnings in 1974 to inhabiting a permanent, 53-acre theme park. During each of the eight weekends it engulfs the park (and each weekend has a theme, like "Roman Bacchanal" or "Highland Fling"), 300 vendors set up shop, and 14 performance stages boast live entertainment—as well as two wedding chapels. Even among the brightly costumed performers, musicians, and attendees, though, food takes center stage.
The food. Oh, the food. The aforementioned turkey legs—a popular Texas fair food—are ubiquitous, but there are plenty of other tasty dishes served on sticks. There is steak-on-a-stick, chicken on a stick, sausage on a stick... and there is also more "normal" food like ice cream and popcorn. Visitors can purchase tickets to the King's Feast ($95), where roasted and savory dishes are served according to the weekend's theme. There is also a King's Wine Tasting ($50), where eight different wines are served up with cheese and fruit.
Bring plenty of gold (and a little silver for the entertainers). There are price breaks for the little ones—$10 for children 5-12 and free for kids 4 and younger.
Texas Renaissance Festival. On FM 1744, between Plantersville and Magnolia, Texas, 50 mi NW of Houston, Plantersville, TX. 800/458-3435. www.texrenfest.com. $21. 9amto dusk Fri.-Sun., Oct. 6-Nov. 25.
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