This year, during the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, I decided to attend the world famous BBQ Cook Off contest. In the past, I’ve had connections with a booth and that was great. I shot several photos of their booth and guests. They loved the pics I took and I enjoyed drinking and eating at their booth while I was out there.
This year, I didn’t have an invitation to any booths. When I entered the cook off area, I took a left and came across the Lonestar Cowboy Cookers tent.
My goal was to cover the activities of a reputable tent. The Lonestar Cowboy Cookers fit that description, and then some. What follows is a little look at my day with the team as a guest in their tent.
It’s hard to miss the Lonestar Cowboy Cookers’ tent. They have a very large set-up. Their capacity is 1,850 people. I’m sure that their guests are pleased with how great the facade is.
These next 3 gentlemen play key roles with the team. From left to right, Richard, Bobby and Sawyer.
Richard and Sawyer are in charge of the food and Bobby is the one who approved my admittance into the tent and back areas.
Here’s Sawyer and Richard in front of the ribs. The smell was incredible.
More about these ribs in a bit.
I was able to meet and photograph several members of the cooking team. All were very nice people.
At one point, the team all got together and started passing out tequila shots. One guy looked over at me as I was taking pics and said, “You want one?” I said, “Sure.”
A tequila shot with no chaser helps in bad weather.
I wasn’t at the tent during the time the team was preparing their chicken for the contest. I did however cover the ribs and brisket.
I won’t say all that goes into preparing meat for a contest, but I will say that I learned a lot about competition BBQ.
Carefully cutting the ribs for the contest.
Part of what I learned is that each team provides their own meat. A judge’s committee representative will come by and tag the meat with a piece of metal that has a number on it.
When the representative comes to the tents, they verify that meat tag number with what they have on a form.
Presentation is also very important. Having a clean look to an entry is all part of a winning combination.
A culinary work of art. This is the team’s ribs entry.
Once the ribs were prepared, the representative will put tape around the container so it can’t be opened, except by the Judge’s Committee.
I know this representative for the Judges. Misty and I were lifeguards together many years ago. It looks like she is telling him that he is 10 minutes late. Not the case, but a funny pic.
The Lonestar Cowboy Cookers’ tent is really big. I like the flag.
Back to those ribs that Sawyer and Richard were standing next to. These ribs were for the guests in the tent.
There were so many racks of ribs, it was hard to count.
Some guys were cutting and some guys were stacking in these trays.
This is the pic when they finally emptied the cooker. They had been cutting for a while so the total was probably close to twice this pile.
A meat lover’s dream.
The staff at the entrance of the tent were all so nice. Tara was the first person I met and she was great.
I was impressed with the banner of donors.
The final entry into the contest was the brisket. Richard is cleaning off the metal tag so the judge’s rep can see it. Richard then had to sign off on the paper.
Letting the meat sit for a bit before it’s cut.
You can see the metal tag clearly in this photo.
An expert at work.
Being this close, I could also enjoy the aroma.
I’ve always known that there is a lot involved with cooking good BBQ, but after watching the Lonestar Cowboy Cookers, it looks more like an art form.
In this next pic, you’ll see again how important ‘plating’ is to have your entry look the best.
Cleaning the container before sealing it.
Their brisket entry. Beautiful.
The Judge’s Rep, Misty, sealing up the brisket entry.
In this next pic, Steven is loading Jalapeno Poppers.
You don’t see sights like this at the smaller tents.
It takes a lot of time to prepare food all day.
When it was close to time for serving food, the workers started setting up tables with covers.
The tables and chairs were set up in a short amount of time.
I’m not sure if the bad weather caused any to miss the day, but the people that did show were having a great time.
The bartenders were friendly and happy to be there. I never had anything to drink throughout my day in the tent, but the bartenders were quick to offer me something when I approached to get their photo. Great staff.
Everyone that I approached for a photo agreed to pose for me. I’m glad they did because the pics capture them having a fun time on a great day.
Bucky checking the meatballs.
The Jalapeno Poppers were ready. I never tried one even though Bucky offered me one. They looked great. I should have tried one.
Another fun group.
Before the food was served, a few words were spoken to acknowledge certain people for their contributions. Also, everyone removed their hats when the prayer was said.
That flag looks great. As does the team logo.
When it was time to serve the food to the guests, the staff would fix each plate with some brisket, ribs and sides.
The sides were great.
The team worked for a long time to prepare this meal.
I’d love to have their recipes.
The staff fixing the plates enjoyed their work. Smiling, happy faces.
The guests would line up and come by one of the windows and take a plate.
The line moved quickly and everyone was pleased with the service.
Just a great pic showing the First Class hospitality of the Lonestar Cowboy Cookers.
Here is my plate. It also came with a container of sauce. There was another table with utensils, napkins, pickles, onions and bread. The food tasted how it looked… fantastic!
Here is the bread, onions and pickles table.
The day was a great success.
Richard and a friend getting a shine after a lot of work.
Next year, I intend to stay a little longer and cover the band. Many thanks to Bobby, Richard, Sawyer, Tara, Steven and Bucky. Their hospitality was great.
To see all of the photos from the day and 35,000 others, go to the link below and click on Photos.
Last weekend, I attended the Mardi Gras celebration in Galveston, Texas. I had a great time and ended up with 387 pics and 2 videos.
I only attended on Saturday. The celebration continues this next weekend also, but I’ll be at the Houston Rodeo BBQ Cook Off. Look for that post soon.
This is a shot of the parade route that runs the length of the Strand.
I ran into several people that were dressed for the occasion.
I think this couple were with a Cruise Ship because in another pic, they wanted the ship behind them.
There were lots of merchandise booths to shop in.
Like father, like son. Great pic that I’m sure they enjoyed downloading from the site.
I’ll be adding in some info that I found out about Mardi Gras. Most of my material came from a New Orleans Mardi Gras site.
The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced to medieval Europe, passing through Rome and Venice in the 17th and 18th centuries to the French House of the Bourbons. From here, the traditional revelry of “Boeuf Gras,” or fatted calf, followed France to her colonies.
On March 2, 1699, French-Canadian explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville arrived at a plot of ground 60 miles directly south of New Orleans, and named it “Pointe du Mardi Gras” when his men realized it was the eve of the festive holiday.
Bienville also established “Fort Louis de la Louisiane” (which is now Mobile) in 1702. In 1703, the tiny settlement of Fort Louis de la Mobile celebrated America’s very first Mardi Gras.
New Orleans was established in 1718 by Bienville. By the 1730s, Mardi Gras was celebrated openly in New Orleans, but not with the parades we know today.
In the early 1740s, Louisiana’s governor, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, established elegant society balls, which became the model for the New Orleans Mardi Gras balls of today.
I saw several schools marching in the parades during the day.
Ball Golden Tornado Band. I would suggest different calligraphy and color of lettering in their banner because it’s hard to read.
Hitchcock High School.
The earliest reference to Mardi Gras “Carnival” appears in a 1781 report to the Spanish colonial governing body. That year, the Perseverance Benevolent & Mutual Aid Association was the first of hundreds of clubs and carnival organizations formed in New Orleans.
A First Responder’s float. Very popular with the crowd.
She has little star pasties on her nipples so it’s not nudity. I’m sure the people there wouldn’t mind.
By the late 1830s, New Orleans held street processions of maskers with carriages and horseback riders to celebrate Mardi Gras. Dazzling gaslight torches, or “flambeaux” lit the way for the krewe’s members and lent each event an exciting air of romance and festivity.
Milby High School Marching Thunder Band.
Everybody loves the Flag Corp.
Mardi Gras is traditionally celebrated on “Fat Tuesday,” the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. In many areas, however, Mardi Gras has evolved into a week-long festival.
Take note of this next bus. It’s The Dancing Queen.
They were a fun group.
Now here is a bigger, newer bus called The Dancing King.
This group also participates in the Houston Art Car Parade each year. And they are always a hit.
They even have a caboose.
Mardi Gras is a tradition that dates back thousands of years to pagan celebrations of Spring and fertility.
Action 5 News has a nice vehicle for parades.
This was a favorite bus of mine. The paint and graphics are awesome.
They spent a lot of time creating this vehicle.
And the yellow wigs added to the theme.
There were several Pirates at the celebration.
This is the coolest name that I’ve ever seen for a tanning salon.
Westbury High School Marching Band.
The excess and debauchery of the Mardi Gras season became a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of fasting and penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.
Mardi is the French word for Tuesday, and gras means “fat.” In France, the day before Ash Wednesday came to be known as Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday.”
Many Pirates wore an eyepatch so that one eye was adjusted to the dark. And when they went below deck, they just lifted the eyepatch and could see well in the darkness.
This bus looks like something out of the Road Warrior.
Traditionally, in the days leading up to Lent, merrymakers would binge on all the rich, fatty foods – meat, eggs, milk, lard and cheese – that remained in their homes, in anticipation of several weeks of eating only fish and different types of fasting.
The word carnival, another common name for the pre-Lenten festivities, also derives from this feasting tradition: in Medieval Latin, carnelevarium means to take away or remove meat, from the Latin carnem for meat.
This next bus has a great paint scheme for the Texans. Maybe some day the team will play as good as this bus looks.
Some Trump supporters made an appearance.
These next cars are really cool. Great for parades.
New Orleans and other French settlements began marking the holiday of Mardi Gras with street parties, masked balls and lavish dinners. When the Spanish took control of New Orleans, however, they abolished these rowdy rituals, and the bans remained in force until Louisiana became a U.S. state in 1812.
Louisiana is the only state in which Mardi Gras is a legal holiday. However, elaborate carnival festivities draw crowds in other parts of the United States during the Mardi Gras season as well, including Alabama, Mississippi and Texas. Each region has its’ own events and traditions.
To this day, Mobile, Alabama claims to have the oldest annual Mardi Gras celebration in the United States.
A few Pirates walking the parade route.
Everybody loves mermaids.
Available only during the Mardi Gras season, king cake is typically made with brioche dough. Braided and laced with cinnamon, the dough is then glazed with purple, green and gold sugar or covered in icing in those same Mardi Gras colors.
What really sets king cake apart from other desserts, however, is the small plastic baby hidden inside. Whoever finds the baby in his or her slice must buy the next cake or perhaps host the next party.
Notice that this fire truck had engine problems and had to be towed the parade route. It’s a beautiful truck.
I ran into my friend Naji at the celebration. Here’s his food stand.
Almost all of the food stands have their food on display to make it easier to make a decision.
I love to see the food options at different events.
Naji told me that he went through 11 cases of Turkey legs in one day while at Dickens on the Strand.
Mardi Gras, as a celebration of life before the more-somber occasion of Ash Wednesday, nearly always involves the use of masks and costumes by its participants, and the most popular celebratory colors are purple, green, and gold.
Women exposing their breasts during Mardi Gras in New Orleans has been documented since 1889.
This girl had a great Mardi Gras outfit on.
In the crowded streets of the French Quarter, generally avoided by locals on Mardi Gras Day, flashers on balconies cause crowds to form on the streets.
Another Mardi Gras beauty.
In the last decades of the 20th century, the rise in producing commercial videotapes catering to voyeurs helped encourage a tradition of women baring their breasts in exchange for beads and trinkets.
Social scientists studying “ritual disrobement” found, at Mardi Gras 1991, 1,200 instances of body-baring in exchange for beads or other favors.
It’s believed that the bead-throwing tradition started in the 1880s when a man dressed as Santa became popular with the crowd for tossing them. Other krewes took notice and adopted it.
The beads used to be made of glass but are now primarily made of plastic. I saw several people with boob beads like this guy. Funny.
Elsik High School Mighty Ram Band.
More Pirates. What has 4 legs and 4 eyes?
I’ve seen this car in the Houston Art Car parade also.
A fun conveyance.
The crowd grew as the day went on.
Right before a parade started.
This is a cool vehicle.
Bands played throughout the day. 3 Doors Down was the headliner.
These girls were shooting a short 8 second video that was made into a slow-motion 30 second video. The video came out great and only cost $20.
This was one of the best things offered at Galveston’s Mardi Gras celebration.
Here are the 3 girls. Their video looked fantastic.
This young lady was wearing a necklace that said, “Wild Party Girls.” When I asked for her photo holding up her necklace, she told me that was also her last name.
Getting a caricature is always fun.
Here’s another food stand.
In New Orleans, the city estimates around 25 million pounds of beads get thrown into the streets each year.
After clogged storm drains caused excess flooding, the city of NOLA cleared the drains of 45 million tons of beads.
An estimated 500,000 king cakes are sold each year during carnival season.
The word carnival comes from Latin “carne vale,” which means “farewell to meat.”
Places like Ireland, England, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada refer to Mardi Gras as Shrove Tuesday.
Shrove is rooted in the word shrive, which means to absolve, and people often go to church to confess their sins.
This tall guy asked me what the STORM Factory was, so I explained, then got their group shot. I’m sure he’s glad he asked. It’s a great shot of him and his friends having a fun time.
Check out the photo-bomber.
And you’ll even see vampires during Mardi Gras.
When 3 Doors Down started playing at 5:30pm, it was shoulder to shoulder in the stage area.
These next pics are of the best decorated jeeps in the parades.
When it comes to beads, everybody loves catching them. The most popular colors of beads are gold, green and purple.
These colors mean something in Christianity.
Gold – Power. Green – Faith. Purple – Justice.
I’ve never ridden in a parade nor thrown beads, but I know how it should be done.
This next lady would hold her hand to her ear as if to say, “I can’t hear you.” Then, she would throw her beads to the other side of the street. I won’t say what people called her, but it ain’t nice. This is not how to throw beads.
Mardi Gras has many sayings but the most famous one is “Laissez les bons temps rouler.” “Laissez les bons temps rouler” is a Cajun French saying that means “let the good times roll.”
In New Orleans, float riders are required by law to wear masks or face paint.
The first year that Mardi Gras was celebrated on a grand scale in Galveston was 1871 with the emergence of two rival Mardi Gras societies, or “Krewes” called the Knights of Momus (known only by the initials “K.O.M.”) and the Knights of Myth, both of which devised night parades, masked balls, exquisite costumes and elaborate invitations.
In 1985, native Galvestonian George P. Mitchell and his wife, Cynthia, launched the revival of a citywide Mardi Gras celebration. The Mitchells had long dreamed of restoring the Island’s splendid tradition, and the grand opening of their elegant Tremont House hotel in the historic Strand District provided the spark to do so.
These next pics are of my favorite golf carts from the golf cart parade.
Bubbles always make things more fun.
Mardi Gras in Galveston now annually attracts as many as 250,000 revelers throughout the island, which provides a significant boost to the island’s midwinter economy.
In Ireland, England, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, people celebrate Mardi Gras by eating pancakes and participating in pancake themed activities.
If gold symbolizes power, then this is one powerful golf cart and crew.
I’ve seen these guys in the Houston Art Car parade as well.
They look like a fun bunch.
One of the biggest Mardi Gras celebrations in the U.S. is held in Galveston, Texas.
Rio de Janeiro hosts one of the world’s largest Mardi Gras celebrations.
This is one great looking cart.
Myself and Naji.
With one decked out dude.
Well, I hope you have enjoyed reading about Mardi Gras and looking at some pics.
If you want to see all of my pics from the event, go to the link below and click on Photos. I’m sure you’ll enjoy your stay.
This past December, I attended the Dickens on the Strand festival in Galveston, TX. It’s a great festival and I’ll show you that in this post.
If you follow me on social media, you know I like to arrive early when attending special events. It’s easier to park and I like to capture the beginning of the event with photos to add to the story of a day in attendance.
Here is a shot of the Strand. It’s a perfect place for a festival. They host a Mardi Gras celebration here also and you can read about that in another post of mine. I love how clean the street is. Nice job.
Here is the write up about the festival…
Dickens on the Strand is an annual Christmas festival organized by the Galveston Historical Foundation in Galveston, Texas occurring the first weekend in December. Established in 1974 and set against the historical backdrop of Galveston’s Strand, participants come to witness and relive the Charles Dickens era.
Here’s another write up…
For several years, Galveston’s Christmas festival Dickens on the Strand has been a big hit during the holiday season, drawing crowds of more than 35,000, according to Galveston Historical Foundation.
One of the first things I noticed at DOTS was the trash can covers. It may seem trivial, but having the trash cans covered like this increases the aesthetic value of the festival. If you didn’t notice trash cans everywhere, it worked because they blended in.
I met Scott early in the morning that Saturday. He’s a balloon artist.
When I attend special events, I like to cover the food as well. This is Naji’s food stand.
He serves a variety of food and it all looks good.
He told me that he went through 11 cases of Turkey Legs in one day.
I asked Naji to make me a plate of just a few fried shrimp. He loaded me up and didn’t charge me.
The breakfast of champions.
The event has several street vendors and that gives it a great feel for a street festival.
Captain America. Very cool look.
On this Saturday, I saw this gentleman walking towards me and I stopped him for a pic. Take note of this because it will come up later in this post.
These two guys had some really nice uniforms on. Thumbs up.
In the history of the United Kingdom, the Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria’s reign, from June 20th, 1837 until her death on January 22nd, 1901.
A beautiful young lady in a beautiful dress.
Here is a write up about Dickens…
Charles Dickens, Charles John Huffam Dickens, (born February 7, 1812, Portsmouth, Hampshire, England – died June 9, 1870, Gad’s Hill, near Chatham, Kent), English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian era.
Even though DOTS is about the Dickens / Victorian era, you will see almost anything by way of costumes, outfits and garb.
Great dresses with matching hats. Very nice.
This woman is a Pony Express rider. I said I thought she was Calamity Jane. She said she gets that a lot. I think it’s the hat.
Here is the write up about Steampunk’s era…
The most common historical steampunk settings are the Victorian and Edwardian eras, though some in this “Victorian steampunk” category are set as early as the beginning of the Industrial Revolution and as late as the end of World War I.
This guy did stunts like lie on a bed of nails. Interesting street performers help create a fun environment at DOTS.
This gentleman would give you a ride on the back of his conveyance. Notice how I didn’t say bicycle. That’s because I’m not sure what to call what he is riding.
And you will see Pirates at the festival.
Lots of Bobbies at DOTS.
Here is the write up about Bobbies…
Bobby, slang term for a member of London’s Metropolitan Police derived from the name of Sir Robert “Bob” Peel, who established the force in 1829. Police officers in London are also known as “peelers” for the same reason.
I came across a few Santas.
Notice her Steampunk goggles and corset. Cute girl, good look.
There was even a place to play a game of Cricket.
Here’s another gentleman offering rides.
Creative uses for the same material.
The Queen and her Court.
The beggars are a favorite of mine to photograph. The baby with black marks on his face is cute.
The festival has several groups that sing throughout the day. Great voices and great outfits.
I came across the Queen talking with Charles Dickens. She was giving him what for because he missed her party. Funny exchange.
He then read a selection for the audience. This guy looks a lot like Charles Dickens.
Here is the real Dickens for your comparison.
Great outfits and pith helmets. With Steampunk goggles as well.
My favorite Steampunk couple.
Charles Dickens wrote fifteen novels. He also wrote short stories, essays, articles and novellas.
Bobbies on this stand gave helpful info and offered great photos.
The girl in the shades struck a great pose.
Great beggar pose.
Steampunk is a favorite of mine and I love how creative people get with it.
One cute Pirate.
Beautiful dresses and parasols.
Attending DOTS is like Time Traveling. I love walking down the Strand and seeing all kinds of people. Pirates may be my favorite.
Another favorite beggar family.
I took several photos of the different choirs. One mother saw a photo on my site where I had captured her 2 daughters with their choir. She then donated to our charity foundation because she was so pleased.
I met Tony at the Texas Renaissance Festival and then again at DOTS. Great Steampunk look.
A stand sold these mugs and then you could fill up the rest of the day for free.
Three lovely ladies having a fun time.
“Get your damned dirty hands off of my wine.”
Bobbies are always unarmed and only carry a Night Stick. When they were created, it was decided to try and differentiate them from the British Military, which was viewed with some hostility.
Another parasol in this next pic.
What is the difference between an umbrella and a parasol?
Generally, an umbrella has a curved handle to allow for easy grip and storage. A parasol, however, (in Latin para for “shelter or shield” and sol “sun”) is typically constructed from more delicate fabrics such as lace, cotton, silk, linen, canvas and plastic.
The steam from his jet pack is really awesome. Great pic of a cool couple.
A good looking and sounding choir.
A fun-loving girl here.
I’ve photographed this couple at the TexRenFest also.
A beautiful woman in a great hat and outfit.
Choirs add to the great atmosphere of the festival.
Lovely hats and great sashes.
Pirates make any party better.
Plenty of food options at the festival.
Everyone has a great time at DOTS. Great parasol in the background.
Street performers are a great addition and they entertain a lot of people.
How do you make a Pirate mad?
Take away the P.
A Steampunk Santa and Mrs. Claus. Very cool indeed.
Another great pic of a beautiful woman.
It takes a lot of talent to walk on stilts. My hat is off to her.
A Bobby told me that I had a ‘Get out of Jail’ card for the day. I never needed it.
A fun pic.
This is one stylish couple.
The phrase “what the dickens,” first mentioned in Shakespeare’s The Merry Wives of Windsor, was a euphemism for conjuring the devil.
Charles Dickens first wrote under the name of Boz because he didn’t want any negative references to the devil.
Once his work became known by the public, he used his real name.
Dickens owned a beloved raven he named Grip, and it even appears as a character in his novel Barnaby Rudge.
Following the bird’s death from eating lead paint chips later that year, Dickens replaced it with another raven, also called Grip, which was allegedly the inspiration behind Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven.”
A great looking group of friends enjoying the festival.
Edgar Allan Poe made an appearance at the festival. Here is the write up about Poe…
Edgar Allan Poe was an American writer, poet, editor, and literary critic. Poe is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. He is widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States, and of American literature.
This guy did a a great job with his recitation of Poe’s work.
These next pics are from the Sunday of the festival.
Naji hooked me up with something for breakfast.
Beefeaters out in full-force.
A favorite of mine from the event.
My favorite beggar family.
Pirates and vampires. Ya gotta love DOTS.
What do you call a Pirate with both eyes and both legs?
Another write up about Dickens…
Early in 1843, as a response to a government report on the abuse of child laborers in mines and factories, Dickens vowed he would strike a “sledge-hammer blow… on behalf of the Poor Man’s Child.”
That sledge-hammer was ‘A Christmas Carol’.
I happen to catch the Queen and her procession heading down the Strand. Great pic.
This gentleman on the left said he didn’t care for Pirates, so I told him I was a Privateer. All good Pirates know how to lie.
Another great performer at the festival.
I ran into this couple again on Sunday.
He’ll always get a close-up. He looks that good.
In addition to ravens, Dickens loved cats.
When his cat, Bob, died in 1862, he had its’ paw stuffed and mounted to an ivory letter opener and engraved with “C.D., In memory of Bob, 1862.” The letter opener is now on display at the Berg Collection of English and American Literature at the New York Public Library.
The Ghost of Christmas Past.
A beautiful family in great clothes.
A Pirate and the cutest little dog.
Okay, now for an explanation. That gentleman that I photographed on Saturday turned out to be the great, great, great grandson of Charles Dickens.
Here’s Ollie Dickens on the left and the gentleman playing Charles Dickens.
The little dog steals the show.
Talent abounds at DOTS.
Lazy slackers, lol.
This guy played a great Edgar Allan Poe. Hat’s off to him as well.
Now for my pics from Sunday.
Here I am with Scott. He made a lot of money making balloon figures.
With the Queen.
One of my favorite pics from the weekend.
Chuck and I.
Another fav of mine with Ollie DIckens.
Well, that’s it for Dickens on the Strand – 2021. To see all of my photos, go to the link below and click on Photos. Enjoy.
Always be yourself… unless you can be a Pirate, then always be a Pirate.
I first met Phil Brayton a few years back, at a comicon in Houston. He was dressed as his Barbarian character. I knew that when I saw him, I immediately wanted to get his photo. This first photo is from the first time I ever met Phil.
When I decided to work several weekends at the Texas Renaissance Festival, I didn’t expect to see Phil there. When I walked inside the gates of TRF, he was one of the first people that I saw. This next pic is from that first encounter at the TexRenFest.
Phil has been working at TRF for 12 years. In the mornings, he poses as his Barbarian character, then after the noon parade, he comes out as Tan Man.
He is 6’6″ and 325 pounds… a mountain of a man.
Phil is called a Badged Entertainer and there are only 5 at TRF.
His Barbarian character is the 3rd highest photographed person at the TexRenFest and his Tan Man character is in the Top Ten in photos taken of him.
I tried to get a pic with Phil each time that I saw him.
Out of the many people that I met at TRF, Phil is one of the nicest. He was always so complimentary of me and the way I dressed.
At one point, he said I was the Best Dressed Photographer at the TexRenFest.
Phil started out his career working in the Medical Field. Then, in his late 30’s, he switched to Mortuary Science and has been working in that calling for over 25 years.
As you can tell, Phil is a real life character.
He also plays Donald Trump. Phil is a Social Media Influencer that works in New Orleans, Houston and Galveston.
He plays Capt. Jazz, the Ghost of Christmas Present, the Barbarian, the Mountain Man and also Houston’s Tan Man.
Phil went to a White Linen party in the Heights of Houston years ago and a friend started calling him Tan Man and the name stuck.
Phil is known far and wide by many thousands of people and also has thousands of Followers on his social media accounts.
Here’s a pic of Phil with some friends at the White Linen Party.
They made the paper with the caption, ‘Life of the Party’. No truer words have ever been printed.
Phil has been in the media spotlight for several years now and been a part of many Promos for a lot of events.
Here he is for the Super Bowl that was hosted in Houston.
Every major social media influencer has been a part of a meme.
Here he is as the Ghost of Christmas Present during Dickens on the Strand in Galveston, TX.
He also has hundreds of thousands of views for his videos.
The Marlboro Man at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
The Undertaker with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Here he is at the Lone Star Motorcycle Rally in Galveston.
At Saint Arnold’s Brewery with the owners.
Mountain Man at the Houston Rodeo BBQ Cook Off.
Mister Astro with some babes.
Here is a pic of Phil while working in his calling.
As I stated earlier, I’ve met many people in my line of work and Phil is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He’s fun-loving, carefree and always so kind.
I asked Phil what it is that he could say about working at the Texas Renaissance Festival and he said this… “I love working at TRF because it is a Judgement-Free Zone. You could be a 500 pound man wearing a Tutu and you will be the most popular guy there.”
My hat goes off to people like Phil who live life to the fullest and get the most out of our time here on this planet. I look forward to seeing and photographing Phil many more times in the future.
Cheers to Phil Brayton for just being himself.
Phil Brayton Fan
Thanx for reading. I hope you enjoyed it. To see all of the 3,105 pics and videos from the TexRenFest 2021, click on the link below and go to Photos.
“Always be yourself… unless you can be a Pirate, then always be a Pirate.”
This is a post about the last weekend of the Texas Renaissance Festival. I attended 6 out of 8 weekends and enjoyed myself, thoroughly. I met some great people, ate a lot of good food, saw some great shows and got a lot of pics and videos.
For the last weekend of the festival, Celtic Christmas, I ended up with 734 pics. For the entire 6 weekends that I attended, I added a total of 3,105 photos from the event.
I arrived first at the festival again on this Friday after Thanksgiving. These first pics are from that Friday.
I enjoy seeing the Front Gate Plaza early in the morning. There is something peaceful about knowing that as quiet as it is it will get so much more exciting as the day goes on.
I have a special project that I’ll be working on soon that is about the TexRenFest. This may be the cover photo.
I’ll let you know when the project is ready to view. Should be late Spring or Early Summer of 2022. I think many people will enjoy reading my book about my adventures at TRF for 2021. The book will have hundreds of pics from the event with lots of great costumes, outfits and garb, as well as some fun-loving, great characters and patrons.
Hamish McGregor always has the early morning guests entertained with his pipe playing and entertaining stories and jokes.
Rudy does a great job as Hamish and is a well-loved character at the festival.
Hard to believe that about 500,000 people will pass through these gates in 8 weekends.
Always buy a program. These girls and guys are usually the first people you meet in the Plaza and once inside the Front Gate. And they’re always happy to see you.
Queen Isabella looked very good in front of the Christmas tree at the front. Nuria is one of my favorite people to see at TRF.
I love the creativity that goes into some of the costumes and outfits worn by the cast and crew. They help create the fantasy world of the TexRenFest.
Erin as Glinda the Good and the Spanish King.
Katrina as a Bride of Frankenstein.
Micah as Crayon. The kids love her and many come back by at the end of the day to say goodbye to her. We wish Micah luck with her career in the Navy and look forward to her return to the festival one day.
Micah always gave me some great pics.
She was one of the people that I gave the close-up treatment to because I enjoyed her pic so much.
Jade is another person that always gets the close-up treatment. Jade is one of my favorite characters at TRF. I love the effort she puts in to create her face and overall look.
Two very pretty ladies.
I stopped by to see these ladies at a food stand and snapped their pic. I love that all of the workers at the festival like having their photo taken.
I bought the crab cakes from them for breakfast. They were hot and good.
I enjoyed photographing the Pickle Vendors. And I ate a few pickles as well. Always delicious.
I learned of a pizza place in the village and found it this last weekend. The pizza is great and one of my new favorite places to eat.
Lilly always looked so pretty. I loved watching her dance to the music of Tartanic.
I ran into Tony again. And this time, he was Elfis. What a funny outfit and great name. Very creative.
The ears look great and a green mustache with those glasses tops this look off.
Elvis would be proud.
It looks like Tony would be saying, “Hey, Baby. What’s shakin’?””
I took Alan’s pic a few times. He works the door at the Wyrmwood Public House. The best bar in the village.
Mickey made my daily kamikaze.
I look forward to TRF 2022 and seeing all of my new friends again.
I love purple and this singing duo rock it. The Minstrel Rav’n always looked great.
This family was having a fun time.
And she deserved a close-up treatment.
Monsieur Bunny, or Daddy as he prefers. I have lived a long life and never had to call anyone Daddy… until now, lol.
Next TRF, I plan to try the coconuts.
Cute workers always with a smile to greet you.
Who doesn’t like a nice kilt?
Kevin was always fun to photograph.
This is a good pose and a nice pic of him.
What’s better than a pic of a Pirate? A pic of two Pirates.
Hercules brought out his fur for the last weekend because it was a little chilly.
Always get the wings in the frame.
Krampus made an appearance.
If a dad dressed like this for Christmas morning to surprise his kids… he’d scar them for life, haha.
Skidmark was looking festive.
A working man in his office.
A great group shot.
Erika always looked so beautiful.
Greg and Sara were so nice to me during the TexRenFest and I look forward to spending time with them again the next festival.
Haley looked great in her Christmas outfit. The word on the top of her head is ‘Naughty’.
I bet Santa would still give her some gifts though.
I like this guy’s blue, leather vest. Very nice. And he was always nice enough to pose for me.
A Pirate Santa. Good Look.
I met Pam while I was working the festival. She was a lot of fun to hang out with.
The crew of the Sea Devil bar.
Blaze looked happy to be at work on this Friday.
While working at TRF, you make some great friends and lasting relationships.
Big Pirate hats always look god.
Hamish McGregor and a friend singing a tune while in the village.
More good friends.
My favorite Krampus and St. Nicholas. Nice guys and fun to shoot.
And deserving of a close-up.
Great Promo Gal and she loves her job.
One stylish gentleman. I’d definitely wear these clothes. Very sharp.
Another St. Nicholas and his lady.
Jesus and Santa. I photographed Jesus and Satan a few weeks earlier than this.
One of my favorite pics out of all of the TRF photos. He’ll enjoy this pic for years of him and his little boy.
Greg and I in the Catskill Mountain Moccasins booth, number 212.
And with the ever beautiful, Sara.
Now, we’re on to the pics from Saturday of the Celtic Christmas weekend. I was there first again.
The entrance to a great fantasy world where you’re free to be whatever and whomever.
As you can tell, I love this view.
The gates to fun and frivolity.
A lot of people will come down this walkway on this day.
Another cold day in the village.
Ready for action.
Playing his pipes.
Micah as Crayon. So cute.
Micah is full of energy and so fun-loving.
Erin, looking splendid, as usual.
One of Hercules’ best poses for me. He has a good double bicep pose.
Pennywise was a favorite of mine to photograph.
This was the first weekend that she didn’t wear a mask and she looked awesome.
Her face make-up is so great. And close-up material.
Jade, looking her best.
She never disappoints.
In the early morning, right after I enter the Kingdom, I usually get a lot of photos of the characters. This beautiful girl was fun to shoot also.
Phil Brayton was always a pleasure to run into. Through some stats, I learned that Phil’s Barbarian character is the 3rd most photographed person at TRF. And his Tan Man character is in the Top Ten.
I had kolaches and milk from the Queen’s Pantry on this Saturday morning. Always a good start to my day.
MJ and a co-worker. I bought a nice hip pouch from them that I use quite often now. Great quality.
Some very fun ladies.
Skidmark is one character I really enjoy watching work. He’s extremely entertaining.
One time, a guy told me to focus my pics on the beautiful girls. I told him I had that covered. Case in point, this photo.
These 2 characters always enjoyed posing for me and I thank them for that.
Daddy in his element.
Leos is more of man than I am. I even wore Long Johns on this day and he went shirtless.
Lilly, looking fabulous.
Haley with a different Christmas outfit and always looking cute.
This girl’s mother told me where she worked so I could go get her photo. It came out great.
I had several bowls of etouffee from Blaze’s booth.
The crew of the Sea Devil bar. Another good pic fo their gang.
Family pics are fun.
A really good Grinch.
She gave me some advice and it was really bad.
Pirates are always fun to photograph.
Sara and Abby.
Booth 212 – Catskill Mountain Moccasins.
Another good crew photo.
Paolo entertaining the crowd.
The Spanish Court.
Another pic of this beautiful redhead. Her hat is awesome.
A fun group to shoot.
I had to get a pic of these two.
Apollo promoting their show.
Blaze and a friend.
I ran into Tony again on Saturday and this time I got some better pics.
His shoes were very cool.
I only had a few people refuse to pose for me during my time working the festival. I’m glad this girl decided to pose for me.
How much does it cost a Pirate to pierce his ears?
A buck an ear.
A festive group that was enjoying their day at TRF.
She has a great hat and looks good in it.
Eye contacts can always improve a look.
Another great Grinch.
Abby in a good-looking outfit.
The only Christmas tree that I photographed.
I love these guys.
The stuff of nightmares.
Two more cute food stand workers.
A smiling group shot.
You gotta love seeing people having a good time.
Another festive group.
Cute Pirates are always a pleasure to run into and photograph.
And deserving of a close-up.
One of my favorite poses. Love the hat.
Talent in the village abounds.
I love the hat on the far right.
Now for my pics from Saturday. Big Phil and I.
I’ve got a tough job, lol.
Sara and I.
Abby was fun to pose with.
Greg always had on great garb.
I would leave everyday about 2 or 3pm and I always saw more people coming in.
My view when I leave.
These next pics are from Sunday, the last day of TRF for 2021. I like that the plaza always looks so clean.
I’m already looking forward to going back this next year.
My last pic with Willy for the year.
Another chilly day in the village.
I was asked to shoot the group shot for the Front Gate staff and it came out great.
Leo was nice enough to let me into the Kingdom early a few days and I appreciated that.
Nuria always took a good photo.
You’ll notice a lot of smiling faces in my pics.
I intend to interview Jade next season to learn more about her character and other things like how long it takes her to get ready.
I’d be curious to know how long it takes to do her face make-up.
Micah was a natural with the kids and an asset for the Texas Renaissance Festival.
I’ll miss getting her pics while she’s in the Navy, but I respect her service to our country.
She’ll do the USA proud.
A regal gentleman. It’s good to be the King.
I ran into Phil in another area and snapped his pic one last time for 2021.
This girl always had a great pose.
Case in point.
The staff at my favorite pizza place.
These girls looks festive in their Santa’s Helpers outfits.
Alex was fun to shoot and I look forward to seeing her next season.
Next season at TRF, I’ll focus more on the food.
Lots of characters working the food booths also.
It’s hard not to be hungry as you walk around because the food all looks and smells so good.
I tried some of the chicken.
Another great outfit.
Love the headdress.
How do pickles enjoy the day out?
They relish it.
One fabulous costume.
The ears, the hair, the horns, the make-up… all fantastic.
Why would you expect the coconuts vendors to pose funny?
You tell me, lol.
This look takes some time. Great job.
I look forward to going back to the Glory Hole for my morning beer.
Great horns and a great pic.
The Sea Devil is a great place to get some good pics.
Case in point.
Blaze was a redhead this last day of the festival and looked great.
Her co-worker looked great as well.
This crew asked me to take their staff photo and I was happy to do it.
Alex always looked cute.
Easy to see why I always passed by their booth for photos.
A really good face make-up job.
Another time-consuming job, but well worth it when you see the final look.
How do Pirates prefer to communicate?
Aye to aye.
Another lady that works with Tartanic along with Lilly.
A great Santa.
With a funny close-up.
Paolo playing some tunes.
Alan looking quite sharp.
Erika looked great the first day I photographed her and to this last day.
Melissa and Vebecka while at work in the Asgardian Armory, booth number 211.
The staff that works for Shiva. Great clothes.
I look forward to seeing Violet next season also. She’s a great Fire Dancer.
And gets a close-up.
Next season, I’m going to try and shoot over 4,000 pics. I’ll be attending all 8 weekends with no bad luck and I think I can do it, plus, I’ll have assistants.
I bet they were warm on this cold day.
I plan on shooting lots more videos also.
I’m looking forward to spending more time with Pam. She’s a lot of fun to hang out with.
How did the Pirate call his mate?
On an Aye Phone.
This King has some great looking rings.
I saw more furries on this last weekend.
Hercules saved his best pose for the last day of the festival.
These two girls worked at a food stand but were enjoying the last day as patrons.
This is the last person that I photographed at TRF for 2021 and I snapped it as I was walking to my Tahoe. 3,105th pic.
Now for my pics from the last day. Rudy was one of the nicer people that I met at TRF.
I imagine Jade gets photographed quite a lot. Gotta be in the top 5 of all the characters.
I’ll have a special post about Phil coming up soon. I think you’ll enjoy it.
Blaze is wearing one of my STORM Factory beanies, just backwards while she was working.
My last pic with Erika.
Many thanks to Greg for his hospitality towards me during the 2021 TRF season.
A pic with Shelbelle Shamrock on the Wyrmwood patio.
My last pic with a character at TRF for 2021.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Texas Renaissance Festival and I’m looking forward to going back this next season. Many thanks to everyone that posed for and with me. It was a lot of work, a lot of driving and long hours of walking and also working on the computer, but I loved every minute of it.
Hope to see some familiar faces at the next TexRenFest and if you see us, come say hi and get a pic.
Thanx for reading. I hope you enjoyed it. To see all of the 3,105 pics and videos from the TexRenFest 2021, click on the link below and go to Photos.
“Always be yourself… unless you can be a Pirate, then always be a Pirate.”
The fifth weekend that I attended the Texas Renaissance Festival was the Highland Fling weekend. This was my first time visiting the Kingdom on this weekend and I didn’t know what I was in for.
I had an assistant working with me this weekend, so you’ll see some behind the scenes shots of what it is that I do at TRF. These first pics are from the Saturday of the Highland Fling weekend.
I climb up on the King’s throne to get these pics.
At TRF, there is regular parking that is free. With this free parking, sometimes it is a helluva long walk to the festival and then back to your car.
There’s also Preferred Parking, which costs $20. I did that one day and liked the proximity to the front entrance of the festival. And after a long day of walking, having a short walk to my Tahoe is a blessing.
TRF also has Handicap Parking for free and also Valet Parking for $40. The pic below is of the valet area before anyone showed up. It is right near the front gates. I mean, right there.
I was able to get my assistant to snap a pic of me on the throne. It’s not as easy to get up there as you would think.
We ran into this guy at the front entrance area. When I asked for his pic, he struck this pose.
Then, he put on his goggles, extended his wings and struck another pose for us. Impressive is a good word for his look.
Pennywise was right inside of the front gates and I was glad to get her photo. She must have a party size can of helium to have a fresh red balloon every morning. It completes the whole picture.
Tinker Bell was always a lot of fun to photograph. I see the TRF characters from early in the morning until the afternoon. They are always energetic, in character and having fun.
It takes a special type of person to work as a character at the TexRenFest and they have a lot of special people on staff, Tinker Bell being one for sure.
I’m quite sure that there were 2 different girls playing this role. They were good characters and always happily posed for myself and my assistant.
The guy in the middle knows how to pose to make a statement. He was always fun to photograph and gave us some good pics.
After spending some time near the front gates, my assistant, Ryan, and I headed to what I call ‘Food Stand Row’. There are several food stands lined up and next to each other. I would walk down this row and get pics of all of the people working in said stands.
This day, Blaze was wearing glasses.
And we took some pics without them. Blaze knows how to pose to create a good picture.
If anyone gets a close-up, it’s Blaze.
After taking some pics, Ryan and I ordered what would be called Brunch because we ate between breakfast and lunch.
This photo of Blaze serving hot, delicious food is a favorite of mine because it says a lot about the festival in one pic.
On the left is crawfish etouffee and on the right is shrimp etouffee. We enjoyed this meal and headed to the Sea Devil area for a morning beer.
Amanda was there to serve them to us. The little bar that she works at is called ‘The Glory Hole’. That’s really funny.
This is a shot that I’m proud of. They each spent a lot of money on their clothing and hats to look this good. Kudos.
The staff at the Sea Devil bar were always up for a photo. They have a good job at TRF. They work at one of the coolest places to hang out, there’s a live band that plays right in front of them and everybody loves a bartender serving good drinks.
As a note, I bought some Honey Mead from the Sea Devil bar. I think I’ll need to drink some more before I give it a thumbs up or down. One small plastic cup isn’t enough for a fair review.
These 2 girls are good friends and it shows. Fun pic.
Here is an example of a mid-range shot that I always take of people.