Renaissance fun in Central Texas: The Sherwood Forest Faire (February 9 – March 31)


Plum Creek, Texas

Photo courtesy of Pixtus

This February and March, the 4th annual Sherwood Forest Faire returns to Central Texas for eight weeks of Renaissance fun in Bastrop’s beautiful Lost Pines. Every weekend from February 9th until the end of March, the medieval festival brings great food, medieval entertainment and over 150 merchant shops to Central Texas for families to appreciate and enjoy. The eight-week extravaganza features something for everyone, so children and adults alike can experience and enjoy a simulation of what life was like in the olden days, without a time machine or a trip across the globe.

A wide array of Renaissance-related, European food items are available at the faire, and food booths range from The Golden Conquistador (Mexican food), to The Greek Agora (Mediterranean food),  to Merlin’s Favorites and much more. A wide selection of vegetarian food items are available at the Sherwood Forest Faire as well. Special food-related events are available at the Sherwood Forest Faire this year as well, including a Wine Tasting and a multi-course, authentic Renaissance feast, which are both available with an RSVP and an additional charge.

Plum Creek, Texas

The Wine Tasting is officially called “Tasting Wine with Madame Ghislaine,” who is a French midwife and wine connoisseur who gives an exclusive look at some carefully selected wines from around the world. The tasting accommodates up to 24 guests, and will last an hour and fifteen minutes. Tickets to the wine tasting are available on a first-come, first-served basis, and the tasting is only at the Faire for a limited time, so if you’re interested, check it out now. Robin’s Feast is the other food-related event at the Sherwood Faire this year, and is a five-course, all you can drink extravaganza complete with music and dancing. Each feast-goer receives a soup course, several meat and veggie courses in succession and dessert. Tickets for Robin’s Feast are a little more expensive, but the “all you can drink” caveat makes it worth it. Again, tickets and times are limited, so do some research if Robin’s Feast tickles your fancy.

In addition to food, Sherwood Forest Faire offers more than 150 places to shop and enjoy yourself. Shop offerings range from medieval novelties, to clothes items, to jewelry, to leatherwork, musical instruments, weaponry, and more. Local artists and craftspeople are predominately featured at the festival, so remember that you’re supporting the local economy. Plus, who doesn’t want a bow and arrow, or some authentic Reniassance-type candles?

Renaissance_Fairs_Sherwood_Forest_Faire_Armorer

Photo courtesy of The Austinot

The main draw of the Sherwood Forest Faire, though, is the entertainment. Each week, the Faire releases a new performance lineup, which includes musical acts, magic shows, chess matches, dog shows, dance performances, jousts and more. There are over 20 performance spaces and stages, so you can plan your day to a tee and catch all the medieval entertainment you can muster. Most events are family-friendly, too, so you don’t have to worry about little eyes being offended or scared. The Sherwood Forest Faire even has its own cast of characters and performers listed online so you can see what kinds of peoples and costumes are in store for your weekend of Renaissance fun.

SherwoodForestFaire.com has much more information available about the festival, so if you’re interested in checking it out this month or next, meander on over to their webpage and see other events and entertainment that are available at the Faire. And remember, this is an authentic Renaissance experience, so costumes are encouraged. And we all know you’ve been waiting for an excuse to bust out that elf or troll costume since college. Perfect right?

Sherwood_Forest_Faire_Parade

Photo courtesy of Faire Freak

Fitness in Central Texas


Every January, the number of 24 Hour Fitness, Lifetime Fitness and Gold’s Gym commercials skyrocket, as people make their fitness New Year’s resolutions. If you made a commitment to become healthier in 2013, or you just want to get out there and be more active, we’ve made a list of of places in Central Texas to help you to achieve these goals while enjoying the out-of-doors, and supporting local business.

Plum Creek, Texas

Photo courtesy of Texas Parks & Wildlife

One of the great things about living in Central Texas is the number of places for being active outside, including several nearby state parks and natural areas. One, west of Kyle, is Enchanted Rock, the enormous pink granite dome 15 miles north of Fredericksburg that is steeped in Native American mysticism and lore. The rock formation itself is surrounded by the Enchanted Rock State Natural Area which features miles of hiking trails, campgrounds, as well as spaces for picnicking and technical rock climbing. The Summit Trail is one of the most popular hiking paths, which leads to the top of the dome and offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The three-quarter mile trail is relatively short, but the 800 foot climb up the structure can be strenuous – so come prepared.

Plum Creek, Texas

Photo courtesy of Outdoor Basecamp

Also located west of Kyle is the Pedernales Fall State Park. Most of Pedernales’ activities are water related – and therefore more suited to warmer weather – but the park is also a favorite for family hikes – with a duck pond, a quarter-mile nature trail to a scenic overlook of Twin Falls, and a wheelchair-friendly wildlife-viewing station. The park also features a beautiful 7-mile trail that wraps around the Tobacco and Wolf Mountains, and the small canyons created by the Mescal and Tobacco creeks, so you can enjoy the scenic beauty of the Hill Country while getting your workout on.

East ways, the Bastrop State Park also provides opportunities for backpacking, camping, canoeing, and viewing wildlife, as well as hiking and biking. In fact, a 12-mile scenic bike route between Bastrop and Buescher State Parks takes you along Park Road 1C, through the mesmerizing Lost Pines of East Central Texas. This winding and hilly trail is actually a part of the MS-150, too, the famed annual bike race from Houston to Austin.

Plum Creek, Texas

Photo courtesy of AustinBike.com

Other great locations for bicycling around Central Texas abound. AustinBike.com is a great resource for those interested in mountain biking, as the group travels around the area, testing out and reviewing mountain bike hot spots. Two such spots include the Madrone Trail in Canyon Lake and Rocky Hill Ranch in Smithville. The Madrone Trail takes bikers on an 8.4 mile loop along the scenic areas around Canyon Lake’s, well, lake! It’s ranked a “medium” as far as difficulty goes, and there is a wide variety of trails available, making for a fast ride with lots of twists and turns. Rocky Hill Ranch offers a variety of trail options in Smithville, too. The main loop is about 16 miles long and takes you through trails to ledges, short climbs, twists, turns and bunny hops over logs and more. To top it off, the trail ends at The Rocky Hill Café, which offers burgers, fries and ice cold beer to reward you after the ride. Can’t ask for much more than that, eh?

If street riding is more your thing, there are a number of bike riding resources available from those up in Austin. Bike lanes are everywhere up there, and BicycleAustin.com even offers a route from Austin through San Marcos all the way to San Antonio.

Plum Creek, Texas

Photo courtesy of Plum Fit, located in Plum Creek

If this cooler, winter weather has deterred you from outdoor activities, indoor fitness opportunities are everywhere, too. Plum Fit is a 24-hour, key-card controlled fitness facility located in Plum Creek that provides local residents with a wide variety of fitness opportunities, including cardio and weight machines available at any hour of the day. And the City of Kyle is offering fitness programs for Kyle residents this year, contracted through Live Well personal training. These programs include indoor and outdoor bootcamps, walking and running training, as well as Pilates and Yoga classes.

So, as you’re embarking on your 2013 health and fitness agenda, keep in mind the wonderful indoor and outdoor opportunities available in Central Texas. There’s so much more out there than the big, corporate gyms, so explore the area and support local business!