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Lavish costumes impress at Renaissance Festival

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, Sep. 21, 2013, at 10:24 p.m.
  • Updated Sunday, Sep. 22, 2013, at 6:49 a.m.


Great Plains Renaissance Festival

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday

Where: Sedwick County Park, 6501 W. 21st St.

How much: $11; $5 for children under 12

For more information, go to greatplainsrenfest.com.

Tori Sessions towered over the competition — literally — when she won the first-ever costume contest at the Great Plains Renaissance Festival on Saturday, dressed as a faun.

“Nine-inch wedge heels are the best comparison” to the platform stilts she walked on, hidden inside pants made of fur, bowed out at the bottom to look like hooves. Add that to the 5-foot-8 graphic designer’s height, and her up-turned goat horns, down-turned faun ears, a deerskin vest, a necklace of teeth, a tail and a staff, and she won both the judges’ and the popular vote.

Funny thing is, her enchanted persona wove seamlessly into the tableau at the festival, which continues Sunday at Sedgwick County Park. The festival draws a mishmash of out-of-century costumes even when there’s not a contest, from belly dancing to kilts to velvet gowns to shirts of mail.

The half-goat/half-human faun soon found herself dwarfed by another mysterious presence — Mother Nature. Mama N’s even-longer legs were tree trunks, her tresses a crimson red. A bird perched in her leaves.

“These are my autumn colors,” Mother Nature, aka Mariah Menzie of Norman, Okla., said maternally on the last, stellar day of summer. “I have a spring look that’s less red and more light green.” The world-traveling nanny who moonlights as a stilt walker wasn’t sure but figured she stood 9 feet tall.

Children also are able to tower above the festival, on the backs of camels, at $5 a ride. “It’s really fun!” 7-year-old Audrey O’Donnell hollered to her parents as she rode atop a calm camel from Oklahoma. “It’s a little bumpy though!”

Amid merchants of animal tails, sun-shading parasols and henna body painting, and food including giant turkey legs for $9, be aware that not all the fare at the festival is family-friendly; bawdy humor seeps out amid the flowing mead and nectar.

But so do chances for boys to go up against Vikings and watch jousting with galloping horses — and throw axes.

“You step in with the foot on the side you throw with,” 11-year-old Remington Boor of Maize said, able to do his own demonstration after his toss of an ax made a satisfying stick in the wood of a target.

Reach Annie Calovich at 316-268-6596 or acalovich@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @anniecalovich.

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