I have lived in Houston, TX most of my life. For a lot of those years, I had never heard of the Texas Renaissance Festival. That’s hard to believe since it’s the biggest RenFaire in the country.
TexRenFest is located about an hour Northwest of Houston, in a town called Todd Mission. TRF has been around since 1974. They boast 55 acres of festival fun, but I think it’s larger now.
There’s 200 acres of camping facilities. They have 21 stages for shows all throughout the day and 400 shops to buy anything you can think of.
This year, I decided to attend TRF for some fun pics and videos. I skipped the first 2 weekends and had plans to start attending on Pirate Weekend. As a Pirate, my thoughts were that I’d like that weekend. I was right.
I paid for my admission that first weekend and I think the tickets were around $35 after tax was included for each day.
As you will see in future posts, I like to arrive at the events I cover early in the morning. I like to tell a story with my pics and videos and to start a story, you must have a beginning.
I had been to TRF back in 2016, so I knew what to expect and I was excited for what the weekend would hold for me.
The first person that I approached about getting a pic was Lilly Bontemp. She is also known as the Pink Pirate or as the High Seas Barbie.
Lilly ended up being a favorite of mine to photograph. Her outfit is stunning and demands photography.
My favorite part of Lilly’s outfit is her hat. It is a great color and has a mermaid on it. And true to the Pirate way of life, it is a skeleton of a mermaid.
I met Lilly that Saturday and Sunday of Pirate Weekend. These next 2 photos are from Sunday. Notice how she changed it up for the second day of the weekend.
I enjoyed meeting Lilly and getting some pics of her. She was always so nice to me and I appreciated that. You will see more of Lilly in future Blog Posts about TRF 2021.
The next person that I photographed was Hercules. He’s got one of the coolest head-pieces at TRF. I also like that he has the body to play his role.
I ran into Hercules later in the weekend and caught him playing an instrument and singing. He’s a good addition to the festival and adds a lot of color and character to the scenery. You’ll see more of him also.
This next girl was a favorite Pennywise to photograph and I got her photo every chance I got. She wore a mask but still looked great. Only during the last weekend did she go maskless. And her make-up job was fantastic.
I don’t usually like to post pics out of sequence, but here is that pic from the last weekend of TRF and Pennywise with no mask so I can show you her great make-up. You can tell she’s a very pretty girl even with the make-up.
I arrive before the festival opens, go in the gates right at 9am and start getting pics of a lot of main characters that are gathered by the entrance in the morning. Many days, I had 1/3 of my daily quota for pics within the first hour and a half.
After shooting for a while, I would stop by and grab breakfast. My first day there, Saturday, I tried the Kolaches. Where I grew up, these are called ‘Pigs in a Blanket’. The food was hot and the milk was cold.
It was a good breakfast and gave me energy to do a lot of walking and talking.
On Sunday morning, I decided to try the ‘Biscuits and Gravy’ with sausage. That was really good. Both days, I ate food from The Queen’s Pantry. It’s a great Food Stand and I ate there often during the 6 weekends I was at TRF.
Here is Phil, aka Houston Tan Man. I met Phil in 2015 at a Comicon in Houston. I loved getting his pic then and I was thrilled to see him at TRF.
Phil is one of the nicest people that I’ve ever met while covering Special Events. And I’ve been doing this for over 25 years.
He’s another much-needed character at TRF. Phil poses for photos all day and does it happily. He also walks in the parade at noon. Then later, he makes appearances around TRF as Tan Man.
If you see Phil next season at TRF, tell him The STORM Factory sent you. I’m sure he’ll laugh.
That first weekend I ran into another friend from the Comicon circuit. Greg works at Booth 212, Catskill Mountain Moccasins.
It was great running into Greg and it worked out to my benefit. Greg allowed me to store my backpack and coat at their booth, in the back area. That was a huge help to me. Many thanks to Greg and Catskill Mountain Moccasins.
This next pic is of Sara and myself. Sara works for Catskill Moccasins as a Manager. Her regular job is in the Nursing Field, but she also works at RenFaires around the country representing Catskill Moccasins.
Sara was so nice to me. She even offered me a free ticket to come back to the festival. Meeting Sara and becoming friends with her was a high point of my TRF experience this year.
I photographed this young lady several times also. Her character doesn’t speak so I don’t have much info on her, other than she is beautiful.
Now look closely… is this the same girl? I don’t think so, but I’m not sure. You be the judge.
I met Katrina that first weekend and was able to run into her a few more weekends. One day I walked by her and in her best deadpan accent, she said, “Have a horrible day.” I couldn’t help but laugh.
It’s a good line for her character to say and she plays it well.
This is Chelsea. I tried to photogrpah her every weekend. She worked at a little stand that sold Bird Whistles. She sold a lot of them. I was surprised out how many kids wanted a Bird Whistle.
Chelsea was another of my favorite people to photograph. We would talk about the festival and other things, so I looked forward to passing by and seeing her each day.
I don’t know if I’m alone with this, but I spent a lot of time photographing the Food Service staffs. I shot quite a few pics of the crews working the food stands.
And everybody allowed me to photograph them. I tried to focus on them because they were working while everybody else drank, ate and played.
I know what that’s like so I made a conscious effort to put a spotlight on them as well. They work very long hours, on their feet all day, busy greeting and serving hundreds of people and all with a smile on their faces. They deserve some limelight.
I met Amanda that first weekend. She works in the Sea Devil bar area. Her little bar is called ‘The Glory Hole’. Now that’s funny.
Amanda served me my first beer at about 10am on that first Saturday morning. Every day after, I met Amanda about 10am for my morning beer.
We would talk about the festival and have some laughs. Amanda was another friend I made at TRF this year and I look forward to seeing her again in 2022.
Glenda, the Good Witch is another main character at the TexRenFest.
Erin’s costume is great. And she was always nice enough to pose for me.
As a photographer, I have a few pet peeves. For the first shot, I believe in getting everything in the frame. Then you can step up for a close-up, etc.
When I give someone my phone to take my pic, I always say to get the feet in the frame also. You can always crop in, but you can’t add what’s not in the original photo.
I gave my phone to an older gentleman to get my photo with Erin. He cut off the bottom of her dress.
I didn’t feel like bothering him to shoot it again.
You’ll see Erin in future posts. She’s a favorite of mine.
I overheard Erin talking about how she made her scepter.
What is a Queen scepter?
A sceptre (British English) or scepter (American English) is a staff or wand held in the hand by a ruling monarch as an item of royal or imperial insignia. Figuratively, it means royal or imperial authority or sovereignty.
I ran into Jay several times during my time at TRF this season. Jay even asked me to come by his booth to photograph the ladies he works with. I even did a short commercial for his booth.
Jay said that some people call him ‘Pot Head’ because of his outfit. I laughed at that and started calling him Pot Head.
I used this photo as the Feature Image for the Saturday pics from TRF in my Photo Galleries. She was a cutie and I loved her hat.
These next 2 pics are of Mickel. I photographed him 2 or 3 times over the course of TRF this season and he was always a great pic.
I enjoyed seeing some familiar faces every weekend. It made my job easier when I knew that I’d be getting some good photos each day.
This couple looked great and I was happy to get their pic. That beard looks good.
This is the first time that I photographed Kevin, in the green, but it wouldn’t be the last. Kevin posed for me several more times over the weekends.
This trio had some really nice clothes on. That is 3 very stylish pirates right there.
This is the second Lilly that I ran into that first weekend. This Lilly works as a dancer for a bagpipe band called Tartanic.
I enjoyed watching their act. And having a beautiful girl like Lilly dancing to the music only adds to the experience.
I tried to photograph Lilly every chance I got. Her make-up was always spectacular and I looked forward to seeing what she did next.
Lilly also has a serious hat game. I loved the different head-pieces she wore during TRF 2021. You’ll see others in future posts about TRF.
I approached lots of people for photos that first weekend. I only had a few refusals. I was polite when they refused to pose for me. I just walked off thinking it was their loss to get a great pic of themselves having fun at a great festival.
I’m happy these 2 girls agreed to pose for me. And I’m sure they were happy with this pic.
I like to call myself a Memory Maker. I capture the fun things in life and help people remember a fun time in their lives.
This was my first pic of the Spanish Court. I didn’t even realize the guy in the middle was the Spanish King.
These next 4 pics are some of my favorites from the Pirate Weekend.
I saw this woman standing outside of a shop and thought she was attractive and looked great. I asked her for her photo and she said yes.
I always take 2 shots. A full body shot and a close-up.
She struck such a cool pose and had a great smile.
Then her husband and daughter showed up. I was happy to snap their pic.
As I said, I’m a Memory Maker. And this family has some great photos to remember their day at TRF. They’ll enjoy these pics for years to come. And that makes me as happy as a Pirate with both his hands on booty.
These next 2 pics are some more of my favorites from the weekend. Now this guy really looks the part of a Pirate. The hat is awesome.
And his clothes all have the same color scheme as his hat. His overall look is fantastic.
This Pirate works at the Sea Devil bar area. He’s a singer in a Pirate-themed band. I was glad to get this pic for him. See: Memory Maker.
I met Paolo that first weekend also. He’s very talented and I watched his show several times over 6 weekends.
At one point in his act, he juggles knives while balancing on a ball. Very impressive.
This couple was fun to photograph.
As I was taking their pic, the guy said something about cropping him out of the photo. I laughed and told him I was good at cropping.
When I got home, I cropped him out just for the laugh of it.
Blaze works at a Cajun Food Stand. As you can tell, she was one of the prettier girls that I photographed during the weekend. And yes… I remembered where she worked and photographed her several more times.
I photographed this mother and her twin daughters. The twins were very cute in their Pirate hats.
When I stepped up for the close-up shot, the mom made a funny face. When I showed the twins the photo, they busted out laughing at their mom’s expression in the picture.
This is Apollo. He’s part of the talented act Cirque Olympus. I shot video of their act and will load it onto YouTube soon. It’s already in my Photo Galleries.
Pirate weekend will always be a favorite weekend at TRF for me. As a Pirate, I prefer to mix with my own kind.
I saw this woman’s hat and had to get a photo of her. She looked so cute.
As I was talking to her, she mentioned that her friends said her hat was too small. I told her it was very cute and she liked that.
This first weekend, I met Alex Draco. I ended up getting his pics several more times over the course of the 6 weekends.
Alex is a photographer also and takes some good pics of the festival. I learned a lot about RenFaires from Alex. More about that in a future post.
Smiles are contagious. Every time I made someone happy by showing them their photo, I walked off with a smile also.
I photographed this Royal Gentleman a few times while at TRF. I love his clothes.
The Texas Renaissance Festival is the largest and best in the country. It’s in Houston’s backyard. 500,000 people attend each year. There’s talented acts, great food and drink, fabulous costumes, outfits and garb, fun-loving people everywhere you turn… what is not to love about the Texas Renaissance Festival?
This guy reminded me of Jason Mamoa.
I love that shirts are optional at the TexRenFest.
My first guess is that she is the Phoenix. The colors are magnificent and her hair goes with the whole outfit. One of my favorite pics.
I enjoy shooting groups because it is a pic that will be enjoyed by all of them for a long time.
This photo could be a Promo Photo for the festival. She looks that good in the pic with the bottle of mead.
I ended up with 234 pics and 1 video from the weekend. I would increase my quota over the next weekends.
After this first weekend at TRF, I was hooked and excited for the next weekend.
My next Blog Post will cover Halloween weekend and will be longer than this post with more photos and stories.
Thanx for reading. I hope you enjoyed it. And remember…
“Always be yourself… unless you can be a Pirate, then always be a Pirate.”
The STORM Factory