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Guest Blog by Fenix:

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

A story from a show we did 15 years ago that puts tomorrow’s forecast of rain in perspective…
This is from another blog, but I took out the parts involving our show along the cost of Connecticut back in August 2008:

As I walked back and forth I was listening to the live radio broadcast they were doing from the festival. The guy was in an aluminum pop up tent on the side of where everyone had parked.
He was interviewing the people who run the festival, and giving traffic and weather reports.
Lots of people were walking past, only partially listening.

He turned the weather report over to a guy back in the studio.
“A major storm is moving out of New York and along the Connecticut coast. This is a major cell that has spawned at least two water spouts in Long Island Sound.”

The whole crowd stopped and as one turned towards the radio tent.

“Could you repeat that,” the announcer said, looking out at all the people suddenly very interested in what he was saying. “I thought you said water spouts in Long Island Sound. So you know, I can see the sound from where I’m standing.”

“Don’t worry,” the guy back at the studio said. “They’re still 20 miles from where you are. It will take an hour for them to get to you. All you have to worry about is the lightning.”
“You know I’m doing the show from an aluminum tent, right?”
“What time do you finish there?”
“I finish at 7,” he said. “And, the new time is now 6:53. I guess I won’t hang around after the show.”

I went over to my wife.
“There are water spouts in the Sound,” I said.
“Car two is broken down,” she said. “Tom can’t find them. I haven’t heard from car three.”
“So, it might be the two of us doing the show?” I asked.
“Yep,” she said.
So, we worked out what the two of us could do alone.
I talked with the people whose car was leaking a gallon of oil an hour and told them to go home and send Tom on without them.

Then, car three showed up. I was VERY happy to see them. I’m not sure I can express how happy I was to see them.

The rain got harder. There was a row of tents along where we were going to perform.
The last one in the row was the coast guard one.
I went over to them.

“Can we use some of the space under your tent for our drummer and to fuel our fire things?” I asked.
“Sure, we’re leaving,” they said.
“The rain is too much, so we’re packing up.”
My wife and I worried a bit about the rain being too much for the coast guard, but we took over the tent anyhow.

We went over to the organizer.
“A lot of folks have left,” he said. “But, if you can, I’d still like you to go on.”
“If the rain lets up some, we will,” I said.
“Just wait until the band stops.”

About 8, the band stopped. I went over to the band tent.
“Are you guys done?” I asked.
They looked down at their damp instruments.
“Oh, we’re done,” the band leader said.
“Good, because I was told not to start until you finished.”
Laughter ensued.
“You go ahead and start any time you want,” he said. “I promise you we’re not playing anything else tonight.”

So, I went back over to the organizer. Counting the time for thunder, the storm was now 3+ miles away and the rain wasn’t as bad.

“The band is done, can we start?” I asked.
“That would be great,” he said. “The $40 a person tent of oysters and wine is running out of food and drink. Some entertainment for them would be really appreciated.”
“That’s right next to where we set up,” I said.
“Perfect,” he said.

So, we performed.
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Tom, who had left his house 5 hours before, came running in just before the finish.
“Did I miss the show?” he asked.
“Everything but the fire sword fight and fire breath,” I said.
“Those are the things I do,” he said.
We lit him up.

So, it worked out.
There was a show where I stood in a town square in a hurricane and told the organizer we’d still go on if she wanted.
There was a time we performed where it rained so hard it put out the fire swords.
But, I’ve never had so much of a “what” moment as when that guys said “waterspouts headed towards you.”

We never saw them. Later on the radio the same guy said the rain was too hard to see them and they only tracked them with radar. So, maybe they were out there for the show. I don’t know.

Post nationwide quarantine, outdoor events saw a massive resurgence.  Renaissance Faires were no exception, and good or ill, they brought in a new batch and the old batch of enthusiasts together.  On specific forums, a lot of new people were afraid they would not be welcome, and I made sure to throw open my arms and tell them they were wonderful.

Come as your lovely selves to the renfaire costume or not.


Then there are some of the rest of you, and here’s what I’d like to say about that.

Read the rest of this entry »

I had a perfectly good blog entry, and then some stuff happened, and now this is the bee in my bonnet
How NOT to apply at the renfaire and some red flags when you do.

Read the rest of this entry »

Post-pandemic, I am doing a lot of head-shaking about all the important things one has to do, like clockwork, so you can be viable to do your shows. So for all of you lovely and naïve performers, here are some thoughts, tips, and tricks.

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Part 6: We’ll never work in Roswell Ohio again

We all considered the Ohio show a disaster, and expected to put it behind us.

But, a couple of weeks later, at the start of July, I got an email from Doctor Neo.

“We had such a great year this year we’re already planning for next year’s show,” he said.  “And, we’d like to have you folks back for it again.”

I asked the folks who had gone if they’d be willing to go again.  There was not much enthusiasm, but everyone agreed to do it again if we were asked.

“OK, my folks are willing to come back out for next year, for the same price as this year, $400.”

There was no answer.  Months went by.

In November I got a very maudlin multipage letter from him about what a lonely life he led, no one cared about him, and how much he wanted to build something people loved.

It was very strange.

In January I sent him an email saying “We haven’t heard from you, let me know if you want us this June.”

If February, March and April I did the same.  No answer to any of them.

In May I sent an email saying “As it is only a month away, and we haven’t heard from you, I’m going assume we are not wanted and will not plan on being there this year.”

I heard back almost at once:

“We want you at our show!  My computer was broken and I lost all my emails and didn’t know how to get in touch with you.”

“OK, we’re willing to be there.  Confirm the $400 you’ll pay us and we’ll plan on going.”

“I expected to pay you $300.”

“I’ve explained in the past that it costs us $400 to go to your show.  So, if you can’t pay us $400, we will not be there.”

“You should get a most gas efficient car so it costs you less to drive here!  Then $300 would be enough.”

“We have the cars we have.  $400, or we don’t go.”

“I’ll pay you $300 and then 10% of ticket sales over 500 people.”

“Last year you had less than 200 people combined for both days, so that would still be $300.  A flat fee of $400 or nothing.”

“You’re giving away a fortune!  We’ve done a lot more advertising this year!  We’re going to have 10,000 people there!  Think of the money you’ll make!”

“$400 or we don’t go.”

“I’m not paying that.”

“Then, we’re not going.”

“You’ll be sorry!  You’ll never work in Roswell Ohio again!”

And, in the 19 ½ years since then, we have not.

We did have some friends who lived in Ohio and did do his show.

They told us that he had even less people that year than the year before.

And, he had wanted us at the show as he used our images on some billboards he put up near the faire site.  Not only had he not asked us for permission for this, but he used photos of our members from our website who hadn’t gone to his show the year before, and hadn’t planned to go that year.

After the faire Doctor Neo sent out an email thanking everyone for going and included me in it.

“Although some people lacked faith in us and pulled out last minute, we still had a successful faire with lots of patrons and a good time was had by all!”

Our friends who had performed there indicated this was less than accurate.

I have no idea what became of Doctor Neo, his plans for an amusement park or that faire.

But, in the 385 shows we’ve done since that one, none have been in Ohio, never mind Roswell.

So, his curse continues to hold.

I don’t mind.

Part 5:  The end of the faire and drive home

As everyone else packed up the cars in the intense rain, I went to get our pay so we could all go to a hotel that night and dry off.

Doctor Neo was in his tent with a lot of other folks as the storm raged around us.

“I’m here for my pay,” I said.  “Then we’re going to take off.”

“You should stay, the storm won’t last long.”

“All our stuff is wet.  We’re going to go to a hotel to dry off, then tomorrow morning we’ll head off from there.”

“There will be another campfire tonight.”

I looked out at the pouring rain.  Even if it did stop, everything would be totally soaked.

“Hotel to dry off, then home.  But, first our pay.”

“I don’t have it all in cash,” he said.  “We didn’t get as many folks as I expected.  So, can I give you what I have in cash and the rest as a check?”

“We need some cash for gas to get back home, but we can take up to half as a check.”

He wrote out a check, went over to his cash box to get some, then handed me a combination of bills and a check.

The total between them was $300.

“We agreed to $400,” I said.  “You’re $100 short.”

“No, it was $300.”

“No.  I was very clear that we needed $400 to cover our costs.”

“$300 is what I have.”

“You need to find another $100 as that is what you promised me.  If you make me drag my laptop through the rain to show you the email where you agreed to it, I will.  But, it won’t make this any easier.”

“$300 is all I can give you.”

As he said this A came charging into the tent. 

“What the %#%@ is taking so long!” A shouted.  “Get the money so we can get out of this %#%@ing rain!”

As he stood there, glaring, steam began to rise off him.

“You want to tell him you’re shorting us ¼ of our pay?” I asked Dr. Neo.

Dr Neo looked from A to me then back to A who was starting to look very upset.

He reached into his cash box, picked up a $100 bill and handed it to me.

“Thank you,” I said.

I grabbed A and marched him out into the rain to our cars.

Having collected out pay, we got off the site as quick as we could before something else went wrong.

We then drove the half hour or so to the town by the highway where we checked into a hotel, dried off and had a nice dinner at the restaurant next to the hotel.

The rain did stop while we were having dinner and we all went to our rooms for the night.

About 10:30 at night, my phone rang.

“Hello?” I said, answering it.

“It’s Doctor Neo,” he said over the phone.  “The camp fire is going and I thought you and you folks could come back to join us.”

“No.  We’re at the hotel and resting up for the drive home tomorrow.”

“I’ve ordered pizzas!  It will be a great time!”

“No.  We’re not coming out.”

“You’re missing a lot of fun!”

“I’m OK with that.”

“You really should come out.”

“Goodbye, Doctor Neo,” I said, and hung up the phone.

It rang again, seconds later.

“Did I mention the pizza?” he said.

I hung up again and unplugged the phone.

The next morning we set off for home.  We decided to drive through New York state instead of Pennsylvania given the trouble we had going out.  It was more expensive with tolls, but better with time.

As we got up toward route 90 to go across, we rounded a corner and the entire road was covered in geese.  There must have been thousands of them.  All lanes, covering the road, looking at cars in an angry way.

I kept going towards them, but slow enough that they could get out of the way.

I called A as I knew he was behind me and would be driving fast to catch up.

“Geese!” I told him.

“What about them?”

“They’re blocking the road!”

“What are you talking about?”

“Geese!  Watch out for them!”

I saw his pickup truck crest the hill behind us and he came barreling towards the swarm of birds.

“Geese!”  he shouted at me over the phone.  “Why didn’t you warn me?!?!?!?”

He hit the brakes and skidded towards the highway blocking roads.  The geese panicked at this sight and began to take off.  It took a bit, but they did clear the road.

We managed to get past, but I think the geese held a grudge.

As we drove through New York, I spoke with J about not interrupting out shows as she had done the day before.  It was correct to make sure we were safe, but gloves were not a requirement for doing a sword fight and shouting to the whole audience that we were being unsafe did not give our troupe a good reputation.

I told her that I was going to give her a written warning about this and if she did something like that again, I’d remove her from the group.

She argued with me about this so much that I very, very seriously considered just pulling over to the side of the New York Thruway, firing her then and there, and making her find her own way home.

But, she started to cry and I felt bad for her, so I didn’t.

This turned out to be a mistake when a couple of months later she tried to bring a flintlock on a plane as part of her costume on the way to another one of our shows and caused a lot of trouble by saying “But, I have to bring my gun on this flight, my whole group is depending on me having it.”

That time, she was fired.

But, I did not foresee that, and we all arrived back in Massachusetts, thinking we were done with Roswell Ohio forever.

Part 4: Sunday

Sunday morning started with another argument about breakfast.  But, since I could show that nothing had eaten any of his fake pop-tart the day before, the argument didn’t last for long.

Our fight director was very disappointed to see that the coffee people from the day before had opted to pack up and leave, so she couldn’t get the coffee she had wanted.

That left very few folks in the east half of the faire.  There was another fight group that did an OK show, but they only knew the one show.  So, every show they did was the same thing.  It got boring fairly quickly.

A few more folks showed up for day 2, but still only about 100 all day long.  Just as a reference Doctor Neo had told us to expect thousands.  If he had been right, I don’t know how he could have fit them.  The grounds could maybe hold 500 max.

About noon I was summoned by this flunky again.  Again, I walked the 20 feet to where he was to see what he wanted.

“There are some kids who didn’t like the show,” he told me.  “They wanted their money back, and I told them no refunds.  So, they’re out in front of the gate now protesting and stopping folks from coming in.”

“OK.  Maybe that’s why there aren’t many folks here today.  Thanks for letting me know.”

“I didn’t call you here to tell you about them, I want you to go take your swords and run them off.”


“Get your sword fighters, go out front and make sure those kids don’t cause us any other trouble!”


“What?  Why not?”

“You hired us to perform, not to be your security or to get revenge for you.  If you want us to go out there and do a show for them, so maybe they think it was a better value, then we can do that.  But, we’re not running them off for you.”

“This is why you were hired!”

“No.  We were hired to entertain your patrons.”

“You’ve got to do this for the faire!”

“No.  I don’t.”

I went back to our tent.  A short while later there was a commotion near the front gate.  I went over to look and there was a police car, the kids and Dr. Neo’s flunkies.

“What’s going on?” one of the vendors asked me as I stood there looking through the woods at it.

“The police seem to be arresting Doctor Neo’s flunky,” I said.  “My guess would be for assault.”

“The police are here?”

“Yeah, they’re out front now.”

“Are they going to come in?”

“I’d assume they will want to talk with Doctor Neo about sending a flunky to attack protesters.”

The guy turned and ran back to the trailer he was working from and began packing things up.

“Police are here!” he shouted to his companion.  “We got to get out of here before they see us!”

The companion also began packing up quickly.

After a bit, the police car drove onto site and parked near Doctor Neo’s tent.

This other guy, hooked up his car and drove out the main entrance while the police were walking into Doctor Neo’s tent.

Several members of the other fight group walked past our fight area to the camp grounds, and their cars made their way out of the faire by the back road.

The conversation between Doctor Neo and the police got quite heated.  The upshot from what I could make out listening through the trees was that they felt the kids had a right to protest the faire if they didn’t like it and had been on public property, so he had to let them do it.

I don’t know if the flunky got arrested or not, but I didn’t see him again.

As the faire was now devoid of 1/3 of it’s entertainment, we were moved onto the main stage for our final show, which was just before closing.

The afternoon had turned very cloudy and it certainly felt like rain.  When we took the stage, we could see very dark clouds in the direction they weather came from building up.

We started our show with me and A doing one of our sword fights.  As we got to the second half, J suddenly stood up in the back and shouted:

“STOP! YOUR BEING UNSAFE!”  she shouted at us.

We stopped and looked around, assuming someone from the audience had gotten too close, or there was some safety hazard we had missed.

“A isn’t wearing his gloves!” she then shouted, pointing across the audience at A.

“These swords have a hand guard!” he shouted back at her.  “And, I hate gloves!”

“J sit down.  You’ve informed us and if A wishes to continue, that is her personal decision.”

We continued.  The show went well enough considering the audience was almost all our members and members of the one remaining performance group there.

As we continued, I could hear the thunder getting closer and closer.

“Thank you all, have a good night!” I said at the end and there was a huge clap of thunder and the rain began to pour down with great intensity.

The intensity of the rain was so great that when it hit the ground it bounced back up to our knees.

We got the swords out of the rain as quickly as we could and then looked to our tents.  My tent was small and designed to be collapsed.  But, so much water had built up in it, I couldn’t get it to close.

I tried several ways, and ended up breaking a strut, so just threw it in the dumpster at the skeet range.

Part 3: Saturday part 2

The faire was very small and divided into two sections with a line of trees between them.  Neither section was very big.  We shared the west clearing with a group that did fairy shows and sold fairy wings to kids.

They had a good thing going where they’d bring a kid on stage, put some wings on them, and then make them part of the show.  At the end of the show, they made the kid give them back “unless, your parents wanted to buy them for you…”

They sold wings to pretty much every kid there.

Of course, there weren’t many folks there.  All day Saturday and there were less than 70 people total.

Clearly some of the folks had never been to a ren faire before.

One guy came up to me and explained it was the first faire he ever attended that didn’t have some kind of roller coaster he could go on, but he was having a good time anyhow.

As we were only scheduled for 2 shows a day, we wanted something to fill the time.  So we came up with a game using on of our catapults where you could shoot tennis balls at one of our sword fighters out on the field.  You got 3 shots for $1, and it you hit them, you’d win a pickle.

They weren’t big pickles.  We had bought them at the supermarket and they were only about the size of my thumb.  But, we made sure anyone who gave us $1 won a pickle.

After about an hour of this, one of Dr. Neo’s flunkys came over.

“Doctor Neo needs to see you, now!” he told me.

I followed him through the trees to the other field, a grand total of about 20 feet away.

“Why are you ruining my pickle business?!?!?!?” Doctor Neo shouted without preamble.

“I didn’t know you were selling pickles,” I replied.  “You had told me all you had was sausages.”

“I’m selling pickles too!  Why should they buy one of mine for $2 when you’ll give them one for $1?”

I looked at his pickle jar and saw his were about 5 times bigger than mine.

“Yours are much bigger than mine.  I’ll give them a taste for pickles and you sell them the big ones.”

“No, you can’t give away pickles!”

“OK, we were only using them as prizes for our game.”

“Why didn’t you say so!?!?  I’ve got prizes for you to give out!”

He went back into his tent and came out with a pile of square pieces of paper.  They were coupons for a free small French fry at a McDonalds if you bought a sandwich.

“Where’s this McDonalds?  I didn’t see one in town last night.”

“It’s about ½ hour away.”

“I don’t think folks will be big on a small fry ½ hour away.”

“You’ve hurt the faire with your pickles.  You can’t give out more.  As it is, I should deduct the pickles I didn’t sell from your pay.”

I took the coupons.

I went back to our field, grabbed the jar of pickles and brought it back to him.

“Here, as penance I give you all my pickles.”


“You said my pickles were causing you trouble, I give them to you.  You are now the sole source for pickles at this faire.”

He took the pickles.

The next person who tried our game of hitting someone with the tennis ball I handed the gift certificate as a prize.

“Do I have to take this?” they asked me.

“I’m afraid I’m not allowed to give out other prizes.”

“That’s OK.  I had fun shooting your catapult.  I don’t need a prize…”

No one ever took one.

The rest of the day was OK.  Very small crowds, but the ones there seemed to like out shows.

At the end of the day Doctor Neo had a campfire in the bigger of the faire clearings.

“This is a family event,” he told me.  “I expect your people to behave as professionals and not cause any trouble.”

He then proceeded to get drunk and hit on our fight director until she gave him an unequivocal no and went back to her tent alone.

And, then there was J.

I don’t care who fools around with who.  But, Phoenix Swords is NOT there to provide a dating source for our members.  Yet, she seemed to think that was its main purpose.

And, she had a thing for Dieter.  Never mind that Dieter had brought his girlfriend with him.  J seemed to think a two for one sale was just what she wanted.

Dieter’s girlfriend had not been expecting the show to be what it was.  None of us did.  But, she was very vocal about that all day long.  And, J was equally vocal all day long about what to do to mitigate that disappointment.

It got so bad that my wife ended up booking a hotel room for the three of them and sending them off to it to “work it all out”.

As the three of them drove off A came over to me, mad as normal.

“How come they get a hotel room and we have to camp?!?!?” he shouted at me.

“Do you want to be at the hotel with them, or here far away?” I asked.

“My truck is actually pretty comfortable.”

(EDITED for Wife note:) It was not a nice hotel, but it did have a room.

Part 2: Saturday first half

I tend to wake up early and so was, by far, the first one up that morning.

I saw a new car in our area with Iowa plates, so I assumed our Iowan friend had made it there.  I visited with a few of the other folks from other groups who also rose early and got a tour of the camp ground.

We had been promised “A modern campground with full facilities” by the organizer.

The shower turned out to be a hose over the top of a box made from 4 wood posts that had garbage bags stapled between them to make sides.  There was a big black plastic bag it went through for “solar heating”.  Maybe that would have worked in the sun.  But, on a cloudy day between some trees?  It was cold.

The “modern” bathroom was a similar structure with the addition of a horizontal plank with a hole cut out of it over a pit in the ground.

We had done a show a few weeks before at a Boy Scout Camp that had hot water showers, fully piped bathrooms and dedicated camp spots to set up tents on. 

That was what we had in mind as a “modern campground with full facilities”, and this did not live up to that in any way.

I wandered over to where the fire was the night before and saw the organizer there.

“Make sure all your people are here for the 9AM meeting,” he said.

“That’s two hours before the show starts.  Can’t I attend and tell them the details?”


“OK, I’ll go make sure they’re all up.”

I walked back up the steep hill and began waking people up.

When I got to A’s truck there was a shout from inside.

“I’ll kill him!” A shouted.  “I’ll kill him!”

He climbed out of the truck and began running around shouting.

“Where is he?  I’ll kill him!”

“What are you on about?” I asked.

“Dieter!  He keeps running around my truck shouting his name!  It kept me from sleeping!”

“I didn’t hear anything like that.  He arrived even later than us, so is probably still asleep.”

“Is that his tent!” A shouted, pointing at the tent that arrived in the night.

He ran over to it and began to shout obscenities at it.

Dieter soon emerged, shouting obscenities back.

Everyone other than A was very confused as we had no idea what he was talking about.

“He keeps shouting his name at me!” A shouted.

As this went on a small bird landed on A’s truck and made a sound much like “Dieter, Dieter, Dieter.”

“I think it was the bird.” I said, cutting between the two shouting people.

“What?” they both asked.  The bird graced us with another example.

“You are a moron!” Dieter said to A.  The rest of us agreed.

Everyone got on their costumes and walked down the steep hill to the tent that was the faire office.

“I’m glad you’re all here,” Doctor Neo said.  “I made sure you are all here so you can have a good breakfast.”

He pulled out imitation chocolate pop-tarts.

“We’re not going to eat those,” I told him.  “We bought food for camping and we’ll have that for breakfast.”

“YOU HAVE TO!” he shouted.  “You MUST have a good breakfast or you’ll pass out during the show!”

“We will have a good breakfast,” I said.  “But, it won’t be these imitation pop-tarts, it will be real food.”

“I must see you eat it to know you had breakfast!  So, you must eat this where I can see it!”

“Tell you what.  I’ll open this pop tart and leave it on the ground here by this pile of wood.  If tomorrow morning any animal has taken even the smallest bite of it, I will have my people eat them.  But, if nothing eats them, then we’ll stick to our food.”

He agreed and we put one, unwrapped, on the wood pile.  Nothing touched it that weekend, and it might still be there 19 ½ years later…

At lunch time, we decided to see what food was available at the faire and looked around at the very small selection of vendors there.

Doctor Neo was selling sausages and pickles.  One of the other folks there was selling coffee.  That was it.  Of course, there were only six vendors, so a lot of choice was not expected.

A tried one of the sausages Doctor Neo was selling and reported it to be good.

So, we all queued up to buy one.

“You can’t buy these!” he told me.

“Why not?”

“They’re for customers!”

“We’re willing to pay full price for them.  We aren’t asking for them for free or even a discount.”

“I only have so many and I want to leave them for the faire patrons.  I have something else for the performers that you don’t have to pay for.”

He led me behind the tent to where there was a very big pot over a fire.  I looked in and it was enough chili to fill a small bathtub.

“The local Wendy’s donated it,” he told me.  “Tell all your people they can have as much of it as they want.”

“When was this made?”

“They dropped it off yesterday.”

There was a VERY limited interest in day old chili from our people.

Doctor Neo got mad at us when we went back up to our camp and made sandwiches from the supplies we brought with us rather than eat his chili.

Later that day he sent his assistant to fetch me.

When I went over he told me he had a surprise.

“I know your folks wanted the sausages,” he said.  “So, I have some for them.”

“Oh, how nice,” I replied.

“We burnt some too bad to sell, so we put them in the chili.  So, if they want them they have to get some of the chili to get them out.”

“Burnt sausages in the chili they didn’t want?”

“Send them over.”

No one was happy with this lunch.

The saga years in the making:

Part 1: Getting there

It was our first year as a sword troupe and we were aggressively looking for jobs.  We founded Phoenix Swords by breaking off from another sword troupe, and some of the folks we left behind had spread stories about us that just weren’t true, but it still make it hard to get hired at some places.

So, we took a lot of out-of-state jobs those first few years.

We were on a message board run out of Iowa that post a lot of jobs in the mid-west.  This one guy in Ohio said he was trying to start a Medieval theme park.  To raise funds for this, he was holding ren faires.  Any group that performed at these fundraising faires for cost would get an automatic invite to perform at the park for full price whenever they wanted.

While that outcome seemed pretty unlikely, it seemed like a good way to at least get our group in at the start of something that might grow, even if the park itself never happened.

I contacted the organizer.  (I won’t use his name here, but his first name was Jim and his last name was shared by Neo in the Matrix.  So, we’ll go with Jim Neo to avoid google if he looks for his name online…)

The show was going to be in Roswell Ohio in June of the coming year.  It took some searching on the map to find it, but I did.  I figured out gas, tolls, meals and a hotel.  I calculated we could get 6 performers there for $397.  So, I told him I’d do it for $400, and he agreed.

“You could save money if you camped,” he said.  “I’ll let you camp on site for free.”

“OK, we’ll bring our tents, but I’m going to keep the hotel rooms in the budget in case the weather gets bad.”

“You should camp.”

“We’ll bring the camping equipment.”

(Just for the record, I hate camping…)

At the time we had a member who lived in Iowa and this faire was about half way between us and him.  So we’d drive west and he and his girlfriend would drive east and we’d meet at this faire.

We took two cars from here.  I drove one, A drove the other.  It started badly when we got on the turnpike and he got on going the other direction.

I called his phone.

“Why did you get on going east?” I asked.

“You didn’t say which way to go, so I had to pick one!” A answered.

“Why didn’t you follow me?”

“I didn’t know if you were going directly there!”

“I told you were when we left five minutes ago.”

“Your instructions weren’t clear!”

“Even if so, why did you get on going east?”

“How am I to know which way Ohio is from Massachusetts?”

“You know we live on the east coast, right?”


“So, all that’s east of us is the Atlantic Ocean, right?”

“How am I supposed to know that?!?!?”

“Turn around and go west.”

“Be more clear next time!”

“I gave you printed directions!”

“I’m driving, I can’t read them!”

“Hand them to your girlfriend and ask her to read them.”

“You should have told me this would be so complex!”

“Turn around and catch up, I’ll drive slowly until you do.”

“This is your fault!”


They did catch up and we continued west.

We took route 80 through Pennsylvania as the tolls were less and we were on a budget.  In the western area of the state we saw construction zone signs.  As we reached them, someone walked out into the highway with a stop side on a post and put it in the road.  Both lanes of traffic came to a stop as barriers were moved across the road.

A line of pickup trucks drove out of the median were the work was being done and went down the road.

The roadblock remained in place.

“How long will this last?” someone shouted to a worker getting in his truck.

“Until our dinner break is over!” he shouted back.

He drove off leaving the highway blocked.  It remained that way for an hour until the workers came back and removed the barriers again.

I don’t begrudge them their dinner break.  But, I think they could have let the rest of us use the road while they were gone as their construction wasn’t on the actual roadway, but the median between directions.

With this delay, we decided we wanted dinner as well.  But, every highway exit we passed showed no sign of any place to eat.

Signs indicated a town named Ravena, a little less than an hour away, would have all the restaurants we could want.

For that time, we held onto the idea that we would get food in Ravena.  We were hungry.  We were tired.  We were angry.

When we got to Ravena, the highway crew had blocked off all of the exits from the highway.  We could see all the restaurants and see that they were open.  But, there was no way to get to them from the road.

My wife placed a curse on Ravena.  If any of you live there, or know someone who does, I’m sorry for your fate in the face of this curse.

Once we crossed the boarder into Ohio, we did find a McDonald’s that could be reached and managed to get some food.  It’s good, I think some folks were considering who would be the most tender in the car.

As said, Roswell Ohio is hard to find on maps.  It took us a while to get there.  We had passed a big shopping area and stopped to get food for the weekend as we weren’t sure what we’d have camping.  This turned out to be problematical.

We had expected to arrive about sunset, but instead got there well after dark.

There were no signs for the faire along the main road in town, and it was off on a side road that was not well marked.

We finally found a poorly marked entrance for the “Ball and Arrow Primitive Weapon’s Club” it was held at.

There was a camp fire burning near the entrance.

I got out of the car and walked over to it.

“Hello, I’m looking for Jim Neo,” I said.

“I’m DOCTOR James Neo!” a man said, getting up.  (At not point before this had he indicated having a doctorate.)

“We’re from Phoenix Swords.  We’re here to do your show tomorrow.”

“You’re late!”

“Yes, getting here turned out to be more difficult than expected.”

“You’re going to camp?”


“Go out to the next driveway, go up the very steep hill, and camp anywhere you want on the old skeet range.”

“Won’t there be all sorts of broken crockery there?”

“The best area is near the back as most of the clay pigeons got shot early and didn’t make it to the back.”

The hill was very steep and A’s truck barely got up it.

We found that as we were quite late, all the non-clay places were already taken, so we found one right on the edge of the hill that wasn’t too bad.

Our Iowan had not yet shown up either, but we didn’t wait and set up camp and went to sleep.

A decided to sleep in his truck due to a lack of clear space.

None of us had trouble falling asleep.