KCRF First Weekend: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

The Good:

  • Performing the show for audiences, most of whom seem to enjoy it, and get the jokes.
  • Getting to kiss 4 times a day, in front of said audience.
  • Hearing from that a woman raved about our show to her, and compared us to the Tortuga Twins.
  • playing it straight, which makes it even more funny when she says something goofy.
  • ‘s adlibs that floor the audience, and break my character (“I don’t sin nearly as much as I thought! I’M NOT GOIN’ TO HELL!!!”)
  • Seeing people that I don’t nearly get to see enough.
  • letting us use her shop as a base of operations, which helps us tremendously. (Kudos to her minion as well, for not sneezing and exploding in her bodice!)
  • Not doing parade.

The Bad:

  • OW. Crippled. Even with sitting down a lot.
  • Attendance sucked. We only had 4,000 people on opening day (about a third of what it should’ve been).
  • As a result, hat-passing resulted in about half of what we were told to expect by other shows last year.
  • The weather Saturday was abyssmal, due to the humidity. It almost dropped me at about 2:00, if not for the efforts of Mistress Sable, quick with some ice, a fan and a mug of ‘s iced mint tea.
  • Small cast, and most of them are unseasoned…so the lanes pretty much suck.
  • Hearing tables of crafters at dinner on Sunday night mocking the ass-tastic farce that is the scenario. The reputation of KCRF sinks even lower.

The Ugly:

  • Morale is in the shitter. The cast is still losing people daily, and the Entertainment Staff seems clueless. (I suppose when you surround yourself with your fellow Stone Church parishoners, all of whom tell you that every move you make is brilliant, it’s easy to lose perspective). They’ve cancelled the after-hours pub for the performers, and the cast party. We literally get no opportunity to unwind on site, or celebrate our achievements with eachother. I’ve heard perfomers say that they won’t make it through the run. I’ve heard performers say that they’re not coming back next week, for chrissakes. Wake up, Jim. You’re losing it.
  • This, apparently, is the “We Don’t Give A Fuck” Festival. Empty shops, shops still being repaired while customers are in the lanes, prices for special events raised while the food and perks of those events are being reduced and run on the cheap, shoe-string event-by-event insurance coverage rather than blanket coverage for the site, etc. It’s hard to shake the feeling that the whole thing is being run on a shoestring, for the express purpose of being a tax write-off loss leader for the Minnesota festival. KCRF is 2 years into their 5-year trial period for the lease extension, by which time they have to have a permanent year-round events building on site, and they haven’t broken ground yet. I’m betting that Peterson will run out the 5 years, and then close the show, getting as much money out of it as he can without putting anything in.

I’m hoping that The Ugly and The Bad don’t end up overwhelming The Good for us this year. I love doing this, but the scales are dangerously close to equilibrium right now.

12 Replies to “KCRF First Weekend: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly”

  1. I’d say you’re on track with about all your suppositions there. I haven’t been around long enough to read between any lines, but I can certainly see what’s on the wall.

  2. (the short loud redheaded musician at closing gate here)

    Lots of people never went to the after-hours pub – there is a big bunch that regularly goes to Evergreens – a great chinese restaurant nearby. It’s usually lots of fun.

    I’ve seen better opening weekends, but I’ve also seen a lot worse – we’ve been on the midwest circuit for 7 years now, and at least at this show you can be reasonable assured that your paycheck won’t bounce. There are quite a few performers still owed by the Sedalia show.

    At least one of the acts that is saying they won’t be back is one of the ones that is causing insurance issues – juggling flaming torches in the lanes, for Chrissakes! Just means more hat for us, I guess.

    Ask me some time to tell you the story about the patron who got stabbed at the joust at MiRF 3 yrs ago. I suspect that that’s part of where the insurance issues are coming from – the guy called the biggest ambulance-chaser in Detroit while he was still in the ambulance and the case has not settled yet.

    I have to say that I was stunned to see the plastic-tarps-and-lumber shop – NEVER seen anything like that ever! And I agree that lanes suck dead bunnies this year – they used to be really good. But street entertainment at nearly all the shows is way down – patrons may not notice it but they miss it when it’s gone. Faire’s won’t hire (and pay) good street characters much any more – why do you think I’m a musician now?

    Music hat was pretty good last weekend from what I hear, but variety hat was down from expectations.

  3. I saw JP on Sunday. He was smiling while walking down the lane. Makes me wonder what’s behind that smile. Is it that he’s screwing so many and getting away w/it before having to close the faire? Or is it, on the small off chance, that he’s enjoying himself? Either way, it’s pretty sad.

  4. We’ve had much worse attendance on opening weekends over the years. This one was really only a mite lower than average. I think it was more the heat than anything (the one year we had 80 degrees on opening weekend we had huge crowds), and I really think the Irish Festival running concurrently made a huge dent as well.

    I actually know what’s up with the one unfinished shop, as I know the individual who was contracted to get it built. The clusterfuck problem on that one is wholly attributable to the shop owners, not the festival management, liberally helped by the continual rain right before opening. I would be surprised if it is still uncompleted by next weekend.

    The problems in the street come solely from the combination of the utter inflexibility as to scheduling (you do it all or nothing at all) and their policy as to fraternization (firing several for dating is going to lose you cast members). When you hire children as your policy drives off adults, you are only going to lose them when actual work is involved. You can’t expect professional behavior when you don’t hire professionals.

    However, I do agree with your assessment as to possible motives as to at least some of the cost cutting measures. Frankly, should Mr. P actually have the balls to ask me once again (as he has for at least the last 23 of the last 26 years) for my opinion of his faire, it is my intent to ask him directly if he is working to bankrupt the show and go from there.


  5. Dance as hard and fast as you can my friend.

    Suck all the joy, laughter and hugs out of it as you go…

    and oh, for real fun and enjoyment – poke the bear as much as you can.

    I fear you are right though about the long term at KCRF.

  6. Sorry to hear about the bad, good to hear about the good. Will endeavour to phone and touch base at some point. Hope the crowds for your show are in rapture, the smiles are many and as you get into the flow you continue your love of the show, and let the niggles fall away.

    Above all, don’t let the buggers grind you down.

  7. I would describe it as “getting good,” but not there yet. I expect it will make the “Good” list before the run is over.

  8. 4000? Interesting :), in The Star monday the “Renaissance Festival Organizers said 12,000 had attended…on Saturday and Sunday”. Huh? I know I didn’t see 8,000 on sunday so where the heck were these people?!?!? Oh yeah, and they expected 8,000 on monday. The creative bookkeeping goes all the way down the line.

    Sorry to miss you guys on sunday, I hope to be able to get around more as it cools off and catch up with everyone.

  9. Remind me this weekend to tell you about the Feast Hall that couldabeen. And here’s a happy thought; what if Peterson bails because he can’t live up to the specs of the contract? The site will still be there, right? Possibilities….

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