Close Call

Sunday, March 28, 2010, was the last day of the 2010 Arizona Renaissance Festival, and for the first time in its 22-year run, the festival opened late – 10:30 a.m. rather than 10:00 a.m. Not too bad, considering the cause of the late opening: The Queen’s Kitchen, one of the festival’s three kitchens, caught fire early Sunday morning and burned to the ground. Fortunately, no one was hurt and, except for the half-hour delay in opening, the fire did not affect closing day other than to make the lines at the other two kitchens longer than usual and give some of the street actors a new “bit” for the day.

Greyhounds of Fairhaven is located just three booths away from the Queen’s kitchen, so it was a bit of a close call for us. We were lucky that the wind was out of the east that morning, rather than coming from the west as it usually does, otherwise it could have blown the fire right at us. Not only could we have lost the wonderful booth the festival built for us, but we could have lost all of our belongings and the cargo trailer we use to haul everything to the different faires in which we participate. Thank you, wind from the east!

The tanker truck and pool of water set up to help fight the fire.

Our booth is the one on the left in the picture above, with the gold, green, and burgundy banners blowing in the wonderful wind from the east. The next booth over (the castly-looking one) is Burnt Mountain Crafts (ironic name, given the circumstances), which sells wooden swords and shields for the kids. Hidden behind the tanker is a vendor who sells real swords (see picture below); their roof was burned a bit.

The sword shop with the remains of the Queen's kitchen still smoldering beside it.

Another view of the sword shop and smoldering ruins.

The smoldering remains of the Queen's kitchen.

A fireman (center) waters down the still-smoking remains of the kitchen.

A fireman applies water to the backstage kitchen area.

In the picture above, note the propane tank on the left and the proximity of some of the burnt buildings. Scary. Apparently one of the CO2 canisters from the soda booth that was part of the kitchen got caught in the fire and exploded, sending it flying through the air to the nearby mews where the birds of prey are housed. All of the birds were rescued safely.

Another view of the backstage area and the proximity of the propane tank.

The sausage shop next to the kitchen, the only vendor shop to suffer extensive damage.

Before the fire, you would not have been able to see the Superstition Mountains from this vantage point.

A full view of the damage before the Festival opened.

The pictures below were taken Monday morning when we went to the Festival site to pack up for the year.

On the bright side: Next year, we’ll have a shiny new Queen’s kitchen!


4 Responses to “Close Call”

  1. Kate Manning aka Who Knew Says:

    I’m glad the fair wasn’t demolished! It makes me think of the plant called houseleek or hens and chicks, a succulent which will grow in very little dirt. It used to be used as a charm against fire. It might work in a renaissance situation still. The plant stores water in it’s leaves and people planted them on their roofs. You can also eat the leaves in salad. I hope people have insurance there.

    • The Greytheist Says:

      Good suggestion, but the AZ Ren Fest site is built in the middle of the desert. Keeping a succulent alive on the roofs of buildings in the middle of the desert might be a bit difficult. The firefighters had trouble just getting enough water out there to fight the fire. Maybe Ren Faires in more temperate climates could benefit from it, however.

      As for insurance, the Festival requires us to have it.

  2. cindy g. Says:

    What a day it was…..It will liveo on as the Great Ren Firs of 2010! Too bad we did not have any marshmellows.

  3. News flash: The 2010 Arizona Rainaissance Festival becomes the 2010 Arizona Renfire! That was too close; to us, and to being WAY worse than it was. Like the Greytheist said, had the wind had been blowing in the prevailing direction… I don’t want to even think about it.

    Shiny new kitchen? It’ll be a new ye olde kitchen! Maybe we’ll hear more songs and jokes about it next year.

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