The Columbia County Amphitheater will be the site for medieval merriment this weekend with the return of the annual Renaissance Festival.
The ninth annual festival begins at 6 p.m. Friday in the Memorial Gardens and Amphitheater next to the Columbia County Library, with a madrigal feast, provided by Chef Jeff Freehoff, the owner of The Garlic Clove and Cutie Pies in Evans. Dinner will be accompanied by Renaissance-era music by the Augusta State University Chorale, Chastain Singers and the Greenbrier High School Choir.
The Greenbrier High School Pack Players will play a prominent role in this year's festival by staging The Grave Prince and William Shakespeare's The Tempest as part of the dinner entertainment.
Tickets for the dinner theater cost $18 for adults and $15 for students and reservations are required no later than today, though a limited number of tickets will be available at the event. Reservations can be made by calling Columbia County Community Events at (706) 312-7194 or Greenbrier Drama teacher Steve Hansen at (706) 799-5849.
"We've been planning this since May," said Hansen, adding this is the first year the drama students have participated in the festival. "It is going to be a good first time. Weather permitting, it should be a wonderful event."
The Players also will be closing out the festival at 7 p.m. Saturday with a performance of Once Upon A Mattress, a comical, musical version of the classic fairy tale The Princess and the Pea. Tickets for that show cost $8 for adults and $5 for students and will be available at the event.
"It is a fun show," Hansen said.
Festivities will continue from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and admission is free. The festival includes children's activities such as a rock-climbing wall, inflatable jousting, horse shoes and several arts and crafts opportunities, said Brooke Willis, a county community events specialist.
Hansen said his students also have created a 50-foot-by-70-foot maze for Saturday's festival.
The Children's Musical Theater Ensemble will be rambling through the crowds giving sword-fighting demonstrations. The festival stage will be full of entertainment, including demonstrations by the Alchemy Middle Eastern Dance Troupe and the Augusta Fencing Club. A Canterbury Tales storyteller will be spinning tales of princesses, knights and kingdoms.
Entries in the Children's Art Contest will be on display, and a Renaissance Costume Contest is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.
"This year, we have partnered with the Italian-American Club of the CSRA. They are going to be the sole food vendor," Willis said, adding that the menu includes pizza, Italian meatball sandwiches and Italian ice.
Arts and crafts vendors will be at the festival selling their wares including jewelry, pottery, stained glass and other gifts. For more information, call Willis at (706) 312-7194.
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