Hattiesburg Zoo’s Renaissance Festival returns

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[Photos/Huey Turlich]

The Hattiesburg Zoo brought back its annual Renaissance Festival for the sixth year, opening its gates to the zoo from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The festival was adorned with vendors and those in proper costume for the time period.

A jousting area was set up for people of all ages, with an employee of the zoo protected with the metal of his knight costume.

There were foam and plastic swords for children to toy with, and plenty of zoo employees dressed in renaissance regalia to keep the guests entertained as well. 

Young children were dressed in crowns, costume ball gowns and knight’s armor. Music from the historical period played throughout the entire zoo, though the sound of laughter and guests nearly drowned it out. 

The air was coated with the smell of fresh turkey legs, a Renaissance Festival staple. The dining area of the zoo was decorated with crimson tablecloths and fruit baskets. In the center of the dining area was a long table with satin tablecloths, furnished with plastic fruit and massive candelabras. 

As guests walked through the zoo, they could also participate in Shakespearian plays, churn butter, make candles and even meet the Queen at her Court. 

The locally owned and operated Hub Spins sold multiple flavors of all-natural cotton candy from their mint-blue trailer. 

Chris Scarborough sold and displayed cosplay swords he had created. One vendor was even offering henna tattoos to willing patrons. 

However, one thing that the Renaissance Festival always sees a massive amount of support in is the Live Action Role Play community, or LARP.

Tori Faith Jones, a student at USM, and her fiance, Jacob McGregor participated in the Solar LARP, and had objects from this community on display. 

There were glass bottles of magical potions, copper coins, golden crowls bedazzled with jewels, a book of spells and many other pieces of the game. 

“I’ve been playing the game since the very beginning, so it’s fun explaining what it is.” McGregor said. “It touches on our darker and more adult themes.” 

Jones showed off McGregor’s black and white makeup, which she had done herself. 

Jones even gave guests special effects makeup, such as bruises and cuts. She described the process of doing the makeup for McGregor’s character, Baal. 

“It’s a complicated character!” Jones said.

The festival brought together a community, and even helped to educate the guests on what exactly LARP was.