HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Tickets are now available for the 29th annual Carolina Renaissance Festival, which just kicked off at the start of October and runs through Nov. 20 in Huntersville.
It's an escape into a more simple time and place in history.
"It's been going on for 29 years and I've been coming here every year since it started," said David Black dressed in a forest wizard Costume.
"You go to work every day, do the same thing and you have to be a responsible adult," he continued. "This gives you the chance to loosen up a little bit, blow off some steam and be someone else for a little a while."
The festival is a seasonal arts and entertainment event featuring an artisan market with craft demonstrations, music, dance and comedy entertainments, equestrian and avian exhibitions, food, and other activities in a theatrical setting of an early European marketplace fair.
A tradition for many families to feast on turkey legs, watch circus acrobats and check out the competition as it gets intense for the jousting knights.
Brittiany Hearne has been bringing her kids since they were very young.
"When they were 4 years old, it was an exciting thing because it was all real. The fairies," Hearne explained. "Now they are older they are dressing up with us and we just love it."
In discussions with residents and officials during the 2021 event, festival representatives offered a commitment to cooperate with community representatives, transportation officials, and government representatives, to consider operations and traffic management improvements to aid the mitigation of the traffic impact during future event dates.
“I think our experience last year was part pent-up demand having been closed during the COVID hiatus combined with nearly perfect weather," Carolina Renaissance Festival producer Jeffrey Siegel said.
To help elevate traffic due to such large crowds the festival is also requiring date-specific tickets to limit the attendance each day.
New Traffic Management Plan (TMP)
The festival commissioned an updated event TMP created by traffic engineering consultants, Design Resource Group, with recommended traffic mitigation improvements. A principal goal of the TMP is to expand opportunities to help diminish the number of vehicles traveling in the vicinity of the event and its surrounding neighborhoods and to shorten the length of time for event entry traffic on the roadways along with an improved flow of exiting traffic for maximizing pace of traffic leaving the vicinity of the festival.
The draft TMP details proposed improvements including:
- Detours: Proposed detour routes with route signage to offer non-event traffic opportunities to detour away from and around event traffic during the event hours, with a goal to lower traffic counts in the areas surrounding the festival park during peak traffic conditions.
- North Driveway: Improved signage to increase attention for the use of the NC73 access (open on the larger attended event days) that can more rapidly pull event attending vehicles off NC73 and reduce the amount of traffic at the intersection of NC73 and Poplar Tent, to mitigate traffic delays on Poplar Tent. • Poplar Tent Driveway: Relocation of the Poplar Tent entry is underway with expanded paving to improve the pace of vehicle flow. At the time of this report the festival is informed that erosion control installations are underway and once inspected and approved, construction preparations can begin. The contractor expresses confidence this relocated and improved driveway can be completed in advance of the 2022 festival. The TMP proposes two primary options for use of the new Poplar Tent entry in coordination with opportunities created by road widening and turn lanes constructed for the Bonnie Cone Learning Academy (BCLA); the new Charter School is located south of the festival on Poplar Tent Road. Both options are detailed and illustrated in the draft Traffic Management Plan which is a separate document.
- Option One: This option offers maximum traffic mitigation on Poplar Tent, if found acceptable to NCDOT and Town of Huntersville during TMP reviews. And if found acceptable by the residents of the adjacent communities affected by Option One’s proposed temporary event day community detours during the morning and early afternoon event entry traffic. Option One affords the opportunity to use all of the BCLA road widenings, and its center turn lanes constructed for the school driveways. Option One offers the best opportunity to mitigate the arrival traffic impact, shorten the length of time to clear the roadway of peak vehicle arrivals and expand the ability for non-festival traffic to bypass event traffic more quickly on Poplar Tent Road on an event day.
New Festival Hours
The Carolina Renaissance Festival operates for 16 event dates on eight consecutive weekends (Saturdays and Sundays) in October and November annually.
This year will mark the 29th season for the annual artisan and entertainment festival. During previous event seasons, the festival also hosted three-weekday events for students and teachers.
The student events did not occur last year and are not scheduled for 2022 due to evolving considerations for planning field trips impacted by the pandemic and other factors.
Historically, the festival opened at 10:00 am each event day. This allows for morning employee and performing cast meetings and other organizational and staffing activities preceding the beginning of each festival event day.
Beginning with this season, the festival will advertise and move its opening time to 9:30 a.m., 30 minutes earlier than last year. This change can aid more rapidly concluding peak arrival traffic impact on the highly attended event days.
Also new this year there will be added food items and unique performances as well.
“This year it’s going to be a new feast of fun and food," Siegel said.
"I’m already noticing a difference, last year we were in line for hours," said Hearne "This year we’ve has been able to see things and work our way through. This is much better."
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