The Life of a Squire: A 2015 Minnesota Renaissance Festival Retrospective

Over the course of seven weekends starting in August each year, hundreds of thousands of people attend the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. A glorious menagerie of vendors, musicians, actors, artisans, food, and beverages await them. The 2015 edition marked the 45th year of the festival, a staple of late-summer entertainment in Minnesota.

Knight Sir Tedward, in amor, with his squire

Here we are the first weekend, oblivious of what lay ahead. Courtesy of Amore Fotography

This year was new and unique for me, as I took the step from attendee to participant. Local actor and friend Ted Femrite had a rough idea of a street act he wanted to pitch at the renaissance festival auditions—three years prior he had constructed a set of plate armor for the purpose of creating fun and silly YouTube videos. Sir Tedward was born, and a handful of fun and delightful videos were created starring Sir Tedward (which you can view here). I had the pleasure of working with Ted for nearly a year on Super Academy: The Series, and during the downtime between shoots he expressed to me his desire to take Sir Tedward to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival as a street act. Sir Tedward, a silent knight, required an assistant to help him communicate and entertain the patrons of the Festival. Soon we settled on the idea of a squire, and we pitched Sir Tedward & Wort at the auditions.

Our act was welcomed to the festival grounds for the 2015 season, and we hit the ground running. At times we had no idea what we were doing out there, but Ted and I made sure to stay focused on one goal: having fun. As actors and entertainers, we were challenged every day on what was essentially a 360-degree stage where the audience is also part of the story. We had to constantly be on our toes and ready for each interaction, and we were constantly rewarded with laughs, smiles, awkward glares, and more. Props and items became fantastic bits, many donated by other performers: alphabet refrigerator magnets became the “Kingdom’s Literacy Test,” a glitter-covered shoe became a missing magic slipper (with Sir Tedward determined to find his true love), and the noble knight’s lack of a horse became a point of embarrassment and fun as he was forced to walk everywhere he went.

The evolution of the act as other entertainers lent their ideas and support to Sir Tedward & Wort was amazing. Our never being afraid to try anything and Ted’s willingness to sacrifice his body for comedy—he was the willing target of numerous blows from children and their wooden swords—were the keys to our success. Our efforts were awarded the Bottomless Hat Award for Best New Act of 2015.

Sir Tedward has a surprise for the Prince.

Sir Tedward has a surprise for the Prince. Courtesy of Amore Fotography

The award was an amazing end to a marvelous and rewarding time. For me, the most fantastic part of the whole experience was making new friends and relationships with the entertainment staff. It became clear that the reason hundreds of thousands of people attend the festival each year is in large part due to the magic created by these awesome and talented people. Sir Tedward & Wort are just one of many acts sacrificing their time, bodies, and health for entertainment of others.

Wort does a bit of his own training.

Wort does a bit of his own training. Courtesy of Amore Fotography

These acts create an atmosphere that has something for everyone. The Minnesota Renaissance Festival is a magical land of peasants, mermaids, princesses, puppets, musicians, and much more—a unique experience you can’t get anywhere else. This magic is why hundreds of thousands of people brave the parking, dust, extreme heat, and rain to come to the festival. Whilst eating your turkey leg and enjoying your favorite beverage, there is an entire army of talented people giving their all to make sure you have a great time . . . and if you happen ever to not have a great time, come find Sir Tedward and take you anger out on him.

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