I would have loved to have been able to gather my thoughts last night, as soon as I got back home and get this post written, however, that just wasn't happening, since I'd been up 19 hours, after less than 4 hours of sleep, so I was in no condition to do anything except fall into bed! We had great intentions of getting to bed early so we could get up at 4:30 (AKA the buttcrack of o'DARKthirty), in order to be on the road by 5:30, since we knew we had a nearly 4 hour drive, and wanted to be there by at least 30 minutes before cannon at 10, but umm, yeah, it was after midnight by the time we finally settled down to go to sleep. It took us right at 4 hours, because, well, we had to stop and get donuts for breakfast, and there was one bathroom stop on the way down due to the fact that when you combine 2 wenches, both of whom are 1. Sleep deprived, 2. Faire deprived, and 3. Sugar powered, courtesy of Dr Pepper & Donuts without sufficient protein to balance out the sugar/carbs, what you get is a serious case of the giggles, and a desperate need for the privy in about 3 hours. We wound up taking a different route than planned, thinking that perhaps it might be faster… it wasn't, but we made it, and before cannon, though barely.
Going into my review, let me say that I've been going to faire regularly (annually, for a weekend a year, at least) for about 8 years or so, and have had a pass of some sort (FOF, Season, or Participant) for the past 4. Relatively speaking, my experience with different faires is limited, though I try to get to a new faire each year. I've done Scarby (HOME), Middlefaire, TRF, Carolina, Four Winds, PARF, MDRF, Sterling, and now Sherwood. After Sherwood, the youngest of those are Middlefaire and Four Winds. Obviously they are all different, with pros and cons of each.
The parking lot is decent enough in size, though it's pretty sandy terrain, and probably could benefit from a layer of gravel, at least in the parking rows… the drives to those rows are pretty well packed down, but a little rain could easily make the exit from the spaces a HUGE issue because they aren't packed down. My only real complaint is that the handicapped parking is NOT the rows nearest the gate, but is on the far side of the entry drive, instead. We didn't take Brunhilda, Doc's scooter because she's broken, but even if we had, the whole site is not fully accessible with a scooter, because of the sandy terrain, and for people who can't walk well, it's truly not a prime parking space.
There was a great crowd out there. Sherwood's been very well publicized, both to the public, and the rennie community, which resulted in a fabulous turn out. There are also no other TX faires on right now, which is great planning, IMHO. We had a mission, to get into the gates and directly to a stage, since our friend Marc was playing at 10:15, and well, we hadn't seen him since Scottish Fest last summer! We made it, easily, and happily, for Marc, there was a decent little crowd at that first show. Of course, many of us are diehard fans, so, yeah, we were pretty loud.
The site is wonderful, to say the least. Most of the vendor booths are permanent structures, as are all of the food booths. Since I've just been back to work for a week, and haven't gotten paid, I didn't do much shopping, other than window shopping, but I saw lovely things, familiar, and new. There are finishing touches to be done on a few things, several vendors weren't fully stocked yet, or booths weren't quite as finished out as they could be, but overall everything was terrific. I honestly didn't get to several places on the shire, but from the looks of what I DID see, this is a fabulous faire, destined for a wonderful future. The owners have been awesome about inviting folks out over the last couple or 3 years that they've been working on the site and getting things going, to see what the plans and progress were, which, while it did get them free labor, it also gave a lot of folks a feeling of being appreciated by faire management, as well as being a part of the building of a fabulous shire. The size of the shire is comparable to Carolina, Scarby, Sterling, PARF & MDRF. TRF is significantly larger, and both Four Winds & Middlefaire are a good bit smaller.
We had a beautiful day, having taken a variety of cloaks (rain & warmth) in order to help make sure we weren't too cool or too warm. By the time that we were getting ready to go, it was cooling down and we were ready to get into the warm car. Overall, plusses, for me, anyway, are
- lots of shade and dappled sunshine
- a good variety of vendors, with permanent structures
- porta-FLUSHIES in addition to standard porta-pots
- lots of stages in lots of areas
- swings available for many ages
- showers & flushies in camping (at least that's what I hear, since I didn't camp)
- poor handicapped parking options
- sandy parking areas (driving rows were well packed, but the actual parking spaces were not packed & very sandy)
- not enough packed pathways in the shire, rendering a lot of areas inaccessible for anyone with mobility issues
- not enough seating spots, especially around food areas
- not enough trash receptacles throughout the shire
- signage was either hard to see, or non-existent, for directions, etc. as far as within the site, all of the shade is wonderful, but it does create a darkness, which means signs need to have more light colors on them.
- I would have liked to have seen a few more familiar acts, but in all honesty, I didn't see but 2 acts from start to finish, and bits of a couple of others, however I do realize that it takes $ to draw more well known acts, AND that there are at least 2 other major faires which have claimed a number of the big names, so I am hopeful that in future seasons I will be able to see more of my favorites there
Tomorrow I will hopefully get finished with my post about my new job that started last week…. Oh, and get all my links created in here... brain dead righzzzzzzzzzzzz