The year is 1576, and Queen Elizabeth I and her entourage are traveling through the countryside. They've stopped for a little R&R in the Shire of Shelby, where the local villagers are throwing a festival in the queen's honor.
The Shire of Shelby is actually Shelby Farms Park, and the queen is being played by local drama teacher Jennifer Wood-Bowien. And those villagers? They're Memphians attending the inaugural Mid-South Renaissance Faire this weekend (August 22nd-23rd) and next (August 29th-30th).
The city's first Ren Faire will feature archery, full-contact jousting and other fighting demonstrations, and merchants peddling wares that range from soaps to swords. Attendees can play historical games, such as horseshoes, Jacob's ladder, and even something called "Veggie Revenge," where people hurl tomatoes at a man as he hurls insults at the crowd. And, of course, there will be turkey legs as well as steak on a stake, meat pies, and plenty of mead and beer.
"In the queen's pavilion — Gloriana's Glade — you'll be able to learn Elizabethan dancing. We'll have John Ross, a guitar professor at Rhodes College, playing lute," said Mid-South Renaissance Faire founder Beth Kitchen.
The Faerie Queen's Grove will feature storytelling, singing, and maypole-winding. An area of the festival dubbed the Silk Road will feature cultural highlights, such as henna and belly dancing from Middle Eastern and Asian countries. And the Mid-South Buccaneers will be repping the pirate life in Sea Beggar's Bay.