The Culture Issue
Four Winds Renaissance Faire
May 5, 2011
Love of the Game: East Texas Baseball The Video Journal
In This Issue
Editor In Chief Christian Keitt Managing Editor Melissa Greene
Design Editor Natalie Kushner
Feature Editor Audrey Westby
News Editor Kelly Shorette
Photo Editor Chantel Martin Special Report Team Leader Jad Dusek
Contributing Writers Kristin Adams, Beck Alleman Coshandra Dillard, Hattie Kemp, Jennifer Harris, Mary Parsons, Rachel Pratas, Lea Rittenhouse, Jasmine Smith, Haylee Story, Jessica Swink, Kamren Thompson, Audrey Westby Photographers Tiffany Drake, Clay Ihlo, Jake Waddingham Adviser Dave Weinstock Design Consultant Vanessa Joyner
Comments or questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org Vol. 1, No. 4 - May 5, 2011 The Pine Curtain Magazine is an online publication created by journalism students at the University of Texas at Tyler. Content may not be reproduced in whole or in part without written permission from The Pine Curtain Magazine. ©The Pine Curtain Magazine 2011
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In This Issue 6
Area counties assess the danger of wildfire, plus what officials are doing to fix the multiplying problem of e-Waste.
Carving the Truth from Political Rhetoric. This issue: Pres. Barack Obama
Special Report 8
For the Love of the Game East Texas’ favorite sport decoded.
May 5, 2011 • 3
In This Issue
Vol. 1, No. 4 May 5, 2011
In This Issue
Contents Special Feature 16 Four Winds Renaissance Faire
A collection of tales about one of East Texas’ most enchanting events.
Art + Life 36
Video Journal: 1,000 Words A collection of short films from the students of Multimedia Production using only photography and sound. Students featured:
Kari Cheatham Preston Kilday Natalie Kushner Sarah Portman Sarah Yosten Ryan Hazelwood Rosalinda Edwards
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t’s the end of the world as we know it. No, not by some mystical combination of numbers or constellations, or even in the sense of teenage hyperbole. Here we are at the end. This is the final issue of The Pine Curtain Magazine of this semester and the final issue for many of the editors who will graduate and move on to other parts of their lives. The last 15 weeks have been an incredible experience as we sought to create something new for everyone. We aimed to be a source of news, art and culture for East Texas. Most importantly, we wanted to be a voice for people that had none and tell readers the real facts behind the story they knew. East Texas is a vast place full of eclectic characters and we met so many who had a story to tell. So
here we are at the beginning. The future is now upon us. After this issue, a new staff will take over and make this publication into something new once again. The University of Texas at Tyler will use its full ability to back a new curriculum based in technology and multimedia to keep up with the changing pace of the world. A new class of students will take hold this knowledge and rewrite their future in that world. The next full months will be full of speeches, revelry and well-meaning advice, but it’s mostly going to be filled with the hopes and expectations of people who will see the world for its flaws and worth and shape it the way they see fit. That’s why it’s called commencement.
Natalie Kushner Design Editor
The Pine Curtain welcomes letters to the editor via e-mail. E-mails should be as concise as possible due to space limitations and must include your name and telephone number, so we can verify authenticity. Questions and comments can be e-mailed to email@example.com
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In This Issue
In This Issue
No burn bans for some counties, but threat of fires “extremely high” By Natalie Kushner Several East Texas counties have not issued burn bans despite fire officials warning the threat of wildfire is dangerously high. As of May 4, Smith, Gregg, Van Zandt, Upshur and Wood are among 44 counties who have not issued a ban despite recent windy conditions and lack of rainfall. Smith County Assistant Fire Marshal Connie Wasson said their office is urging people not to burn trash even though a formal burn ban has not been instituted. “The threat of wildfire is just extremely high,” Wasson said. “Even though we’re not like West Texas, where the wide-open spaces make it easy for fire to spread, we have some pasture land here, but we have a lot of woods. A lot of times fire starts in those woods and you can’t get to them.” Hundreds of fire responders are battling at least four major fires and dozens of daily brush fires across the state. The Texas Forest Service reports fires cover more than half a million acres as of April 25. Smith County commissioners are watching the number of small fires as well as the weather and drought index very carefully, said Adrienne Graham, Smith County public relations liaison. 6 • The Pine Curtain
The Keetch-Byram Drought Index Scale measures the depth of soil required to hold eight inches of moisture. A comparison of samples reflects water gain or loss. The soil is then rated on a scale ranging from 0 to 800, the higher number reflecting drier soil. “Currently, the KBDI in Smith County is up to 551,” Graham said. “Fire Marshal Jim Seaton said that 700 is absolute. A burn ban is going to happen because it would not be safe. They’re also watching to see how dry it is, how many small fires are happening, how many accidental fires are happening, and how windy it is.” Smith County’s officials predict the KBDI to go up to between 600 and 700, but are not moving forward with a burn ban at this time. The highest and driest number on the KBDI is 800. “The people of Smith County are being very cautious,” Graham said. “We only had two small brush fires over the weekend and they were controlled very quickly.” Wasson explained Smith County has not had the kind of fires other counties have had and a burn ban doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. “A burn ban doesn’t help power lines sparking or cigarettes being thrown out,” she said.
Humans are the cause of more than 90 percent of all wildfires, according to the Texas Forest Service. Henderson County Fire Marshal Darrell Furrh requested a burn ban April 26. He said the public’s failure to use common sense is the cause of many fires that get out of control. “You shouldn’t burn when the wind is blowing 30 or 40 mph,” he said. “I try to express that to the public but some people fail to heed my warnings.” He said although Henderson County ranks below the borderline of 575 on the drought index scale, several long-term drought factors make conditions “very, very dangerous at this point.” Furrh said the danger relative to East Texas is the threat of a crown fire, or a fast-growing wildfire that spreads across the canopies of thick forest trees. A crown fire recently burned seven acres in Trinity County, about 100 miles north of Houston. “If the conditions are correct in our area we could have fires jumping from treetop to treetop which would make it almost impossible to contain,” he said. “One in East Texas would probably be more devastating than what we’ve seen in West Texas.”
Graphic courtesy Texas Forest Service
Smith, Van Zandt, Rains, Wood, Upshur and Gregg counties remain in the minority. Over 90 percent of Texas counties have declared a burn ban as of May 4.
Rusk County issues burn ban By Jennifer Harris Rusk County Commissioners Court instituted a 90-day burn ban last week in response to drought conditions and the recent outbreak of wildfires in the state. Commissioners agreed to allow burning in a controlled environment with the approval of their local fire department, but residents must remain present until the entire pile burns and have water readily available in case of emergency. Residents found burning without permission would be in violation, classified as a Class C misdemeanor, and fined up to $500. “Sometimes you just have
to be strict in order to keep everyone safe,” said Rusk County Sheriff Danny Pirtle. A Class C misdemeanor is only punishable by fine and does not result in a loss of civil rights, like voting. He said although a Class C misdemeanor is a minimal charge it is still a criminal act. Pct. 1 Commissioner Bill Hale said the dry conditions are bad, but not severe enough to issue an absolute ban. “We are hoping it doesn’t come to that but it may if we don’t see rain soon,” he said. Local fire departments agree with the court’s decision and hope residents adhere to the ban. “When it comes to a burn ban, it only fulfills its purpose when
the people do what they are supposed to and adhere to it,” said Henderson Fire Department Chief Rusty Chote. “The possibility for a wildfire is high with all of the vegetation and land being so dry,” Chote said. “Everyone should be aware of the dangers at all times.” Until the county gets some much-needed rain, all residents are to be on alert, keep a watchful eye and be responsible. “Unless they practice better outdoor fire safety, wildfires will result from simple household trash or leave piles,” Chote said. Rusk County joins several other county burn bans during this dry time including Cherokee, Nacogdoches, Panola, Harrison and Shelby. May 5, 2011 • 7
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Counties that have declared burn bans
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Group seeks to stop electronic waste By Jessica Swink Helping Others Pursue Enrichment is a local organization that wants to put an end to a different type of pollutionelectronic waste. H.O.P.E. will now collect e-waste on a regular basis out of concern over potential danger and risk to the environment, said Executive Director Fran Daniel. She said the organization sponsored the Electronic Recycling Kick Off Day April 16 to create interest in electronic recycling. E-waste is often found in common places such as houses and businesses, and can be hazardous if they contain
mercury or lead. Electronic waste, or “e-waste”, refers to “any unwanted electronic device... and is classified as universal waste” according to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control. Along with Systems & Technology Solutions Electronic Recycling Inc., H.O.P.E. collected all things electronic, such as computers, telephones and cell phones, printers, and chargers at the kickoff event. H.O.P.E. receives a certain amount per poundage of waste collected, which will help the environment along with the city of Jacksonville. Daniel said events like hers can
“help towards going green”. Steven Norton, Jacksonville county commissioner and owner of STS Electronic Recycling, agrees. “It’s a double whammy, not having to pay to clean up landfills and helping the environment. It costs money to clean all that up,” he said. Norton believes recycling e-waste can help the city of Jacksonville financially, but wishes more people knew about the effects of e-waste. H.O.P.E. and Systems STS Electronic Recycling plan to designate a drop off point where those in the community can donate unwanted e-waste.
Used computers and printers sit in piles at the physical plant on the UT Tyler campus.
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By Beck Alleman
Smith County Commissioners Court recently approved plans to adopt new software to make communication among law enforcement officials easier. The new software will cost about $4 million, to be paid for over time with help from the Capital Improvement Plan. Police Chief Bobby Garmon said the upgrade is necessary because software currently used by law enforcement hasn’t been revamped since 1998. “We’ve been piecemealing so far, and it’s causing us to have crashes,” he said, adding he fears a crash in which data cannot be recovered.
CAD, Computer Aided Dispatch, is the current system used throughout the county to dispatch police cruisers. TSG, Technology Solutions Group, is the main system Smith County police use to communicate with each other and headquarters. “Right now, to put a 911 call in, dispatch has to touch six different computer mice,” Garmon said. The problem is a complicated one, according to Harvy Tanner, chief technology officer of the Smith County IT department. Tanner said one problem is getting the judicial side (TSG) to cooperate with the installation of the CAD system since the systems are not always
compatible. “What I want is to be able to share data between CAD and TSG without having to enter it twice, because that’s just adding more work for the county,” Tanner said. He said he does not believe a change to the judicial side is necessary immediately, but the clock is ticking. “Because of the financial situation, I won’t say that we have to update TSG today or even next year. It’ll survive as it is.” Tanner said. “Is it the best? No, but it is functional.” Implementing software could be a lengthy process, however. “It will take at least a couple of years to have full implementation on the program,” Tanner said.
Job fair for veterans to be held in Jacksonville By Jessica Swink A job fair for Jacksonville area veterans will be held from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m., Friday, May 20, at the Norman Activity Center, 526 E. Commerce Street in Jacksonville. The event is sponsored by the Jacksonville Lone Star Military Resource Group, AndersonCherokee Community Enrichment Services (ACCESS), and Grace After Fire. At the conclusion of the fair, county officials plan to sign a community covenant expressing commitment to support local military families. Chief Administrative Officer of
ACCESS, Karen Pate, believes that the job fair couldn’t have come at a better time. “The event provides an opportunity for local and regional businesses to tap into the vast experience of prior military and veterans living in the Jacksonville area,” Pate said. The unemployment rate for veterans is 15.2 percent, nearly double the national rate, according to the March 2011 figures released by the Department of Labor. Julianne Sanford, founder of the Lone Star Military Resource Group in Jacksonville, is also a Family Readiness Group Leader for
the Texas National Guard. She said those statistics are troubling, and offered several explanations. “The guards and reserves might have obligations to the military that might require their full attention. There’s always the chance of deployment,” Sanford said. Sanford said she hopes the job fair will make it easier for veterans to find employment. In the future, Sanford hopes to develop opportunities for veterans to meet with veteran service officers for VA benefits, as well as helping them to receive scholarships for higher education. May 5, 2011 • 9
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Law enforcement receives new software for first time since 1998
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New Justice Center eliminates problem of jail overcrowding By Jennifer Harris The $15 million renovation and expansion of Rusk County Justice Center is open for tours but is not yet ready for operation. Rusk County Jail Administrator Lt. Cassandra Shaw said they hope to move in within the next six weeks. “We have about 15 more inspections to complete. Then we should be able to make all the transitions needed,” she said. The Rusk County Jail extension provides enough space to hold 196 additional inmates, bringing total capacity to 292. Unfortunately, the increase in inmates means the need for additional jailers and funds to supply their pay. “Taxpayers aren’t ready to pay $3 million to $4 million in taxes just yet,” said Shaw.
The officer to inmate ratio in Texas is currently one officer per 48 inmates. The jail is currently at its maximum and will not hire more jailers or receive further inmates until funds are attainable. Overcrowding is the worst problem the jail faces and will now be a problem of the past, Shaw said. The building will also house jail staff, a courtroom and several offices, including space for the sheriff and constable. “It is a modern facility and we are very proud of it,” said Rusk County Judge Joel Hale. The increase in inmate capacity frees the county from any financial burdens of having to pay other facilities to house prisoners. Space and flexibility is now available to address
misdemeanor cases that have been on hold in recent years due to lack of space, Hale said. High profile cases from the county or neighboring counties will be in the new courtroom as well. Rusk County Sheriff Danny Pirtle said the justice center not only brings added space but also enhances security measures. “It’s going to make things easier for us to do our jobs and to keep the inmates secure,” he said. Deputies previously had to walk inmates from the jail to the courthouse for indictments, hearings and trials. With the new courtroom attached to the jail, this is no longer a security issue, said Pirtle. The jail staff hopes to occupy the facility as soon as permissible.
Gregg county to axe road work funds By Kelley Shorette
Texas Association of Counties recently reported state funding to counties for road construction and maintenance will be eliminated, a claim Texas Department of Transportation officials denied. Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt said he believes the TAC report is referring to cuts in unmatched funding to counties, not funding in general. The state would no longer fund projects that counties can’t “pitch in” on. He said counties have been 10 • The Pine Curtain
warned for the past several years that state funding would diminish. They can no longer go to the state with road projects, expecting full funding. “The road fairy has died,” Stoudt said. “No one’s going to wave a magic wand and make a big pile of money appear.” Counties must first prove they are fiscally responsible. Gregg County has been “putting money away,” Stoudt said, for the past eight or nine years. He added the county has spent at least $15 million on road projects this year.
Larry Krantz with TXDOT said he doesn’t know where the information came from, but said he believes it’s not true. He added the money for road maintenance comes mainly from the gas tax, and is earmarked for specific use. “We’re not in the business of stealing taxpayers’ money just to balance the state budget,” Krantz said. No evidence could be found of such wide-sweeping cuts, and TAC officials were unavailable for comment.
By Kamren Thompson A House bill introduced by Rep. Dan Flynn calls for a two-year moratoriam on the implementation of new standardized tests that could save taxpayers $100 million next year. The intent of House Bill Rep. Dan Flynn 249 is to relieve financial and stress burdens on districts so they would not be forced to choose between testing and teachers, Flynn told fellow members of the House Committee on Public Education April 12. Next year’s planned implementation of the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness could increase the cost of testing to almost $470 million, a substantial increase from the $90 million the state currently spends to administer the Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness. The new test, STAAR, will double the number of testing days to 45, with each student taking four tests during a fiveday period. Some of the tests take two days to administer and retests are sometimes required.
Several Van Independent School District employees testified in support of the bill April 12 in Austin. Donna Wallace, VISD deputy director of Secondary Instruction and Accountability, testified in support of the bill and said a moratoritum is wise due to the state’s funding situation. Wallace said the new tests add expense to an already thin budget. “we could potentially save around 15,500 new teaching jobs alone,” Wallace said. “It would just be a more fiscally responsible way right now in light of the financial situation.” Van High School Principal Keith Murphy testified in Austin as well, and said his district has already been affected by the state deficit. “We just restructured and lost 39 employees,” he said. “That’s pretty significant for a 3A district.” Wallace said VISD administrators support testing but officials should evaluate the process. Every year schools must test students, even if they score a commended performance, the highest score possible on the test, she said. “We’re not against testing at all, and an accountability system. Our thoughts are that we are testing too much,” Wallace said. Murphy said he believes
districts should be free to create and adopt their own policy assessment procedures.. “That’s what our job is,” he said. “That is why they pay us.” Murphy also said the requirements of state curriculum should be sufficient and students should not be held back because of low TAKS test scores. “Right now we’ve watched kids not graduate because they couldn’t pass the TAKS test,” he said. “I think it’s sad they go all the way through and meet local requirements, and the state says they can’t [graduate].” He said the state should more closely examine college preparedness. “The bottom line is when they get to 11th or 12th grade, they have to pass college acceptance exams – SAT , ACT,” Murphy said. “If they can’t do that, we haven’t prepared them. You can’t test all the kids the same.” In addition to the potential cost increase, Wallace said some of next year’s end-of-course exams may not be ready on time. “We want to not rush quite so much,” she said. “We do need a testing system, but we need to look at that a little more carefully and not test so many students,every grade level, even those who are commended every year.”
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Cost of state standardized testing to increase
In This Issue
Devastation in the Heartland Pine Curtain editor Melissa Greene witnessed and photographed the destruction of the EF-3 tornado that rocked the small community of Tushka, Okla. on April 14
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In This Issue
This house was the most intact structure on the street, just down from where an elementary school was obliterated by the EF-3 tornado.
Many Oklahoma teachers were left scrambling to find school supplies for their students to get through the last few weeks of school after supplies were lost in the tornado.
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Right: A math lesson remains written on the board, but desks, school supplies and parts of the school’s ventilation lay scattered about on the ground. Below: This pile of house debris is all that’s left of someone’s mobile home.
Decorations were left hanging on cabinets, while the rest of the classrooms of Tushka Elementary were destroyed by wind gusts of up to 165 mph.
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Out of the 350 people who live in the community of Tushka, two women were killed in the April 14 EF-3 tornado.
Above: The owner of this trailer was fortunate. More than 100 people lost their homes. Left: Oklahoma schools were forced to shut off their copy machines to save money. Meanwhile, copies of math homework lay scattered on the ground.
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By Melissa Greene
Take your average T-Bone steak. Carve away the fat and the bone and the little that remains is meat. Take your average politician. Carve away the bluster and rhetoric and you just may find the truth…or not. In our T-Bone, we’ll look at political quotes that make us wonder where the meat is, closely examine their value and grade them just as a meat inspector might grade cuts of beef: Prime, Choice, Standard or Canner. Then we’ll serve it up to you for your consumption.
‘Prime’ Truth: Top shelf—Grade A goodness.
‘Choice’ Truth: Mostly true, depending on the bull it came from.
‘Standard’ Truth: Run of the mill bull—more gristle than fat, less meaty than most.
‘Canner’ Truth: Don’t eat this meat.
Recorded during a May 4 interview with CBS 60 Minutes reporter Steve Kroft, to air May 8:
“It is important for us to make sure that very graphic photos of somebody who was shot in the head are not floating around as an incitement to additional violence or as a propaganda tool. That’s not who we are.” ‑President Barack Obama
It is often said war is hell, so common sense follows that photos of it aren’t going to be pretty. But we have a question. Why is it acceptable to publish photographs of fallen heroes returning in caskets to American soil, but withhold photos showing the death of the man responsible? The previous administration released photographs of Uday and Qusay Hussein, for example. The ban on news media coverage of flag-draped coffins at Dover Air Force Base was lifted Feb. 2009. 16 • The Pine Curtain
In its place, military families were given the right to choose if they wanted media coverage. While we applaud that decision in the name of the first amendment, one has to wonder about the logic behind Pres. Obama’s decision to allow one and not the other. But of course it took two years and a media frenzy before the president decided to release his birth certificate. While there is some truth in this quote, the logic behind it is questionable. Grade: Standard
“Fifty percent of our students who enter higher education need to take remedial courses because they are not prepared for college-level work.” ‑State Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) Since 2003, students entering public higher education institutions are required, by law, to pass a Texas Success Initiative exam which is basically an evaluation on how well they’ve mastered the three R’s. Higher test scores on the SAT and so forth can exempt a student from the test. Those who don’t score well enough must enroll in remedial classes. But we doubted nearly 600,000 students are enrolled in remedial classes. Surprisingly, we found Howard’s remarks were sort of true. Nearly 49 percent of freshmen who enrolled in community college right out of high school failed
to meet Texas Success Initiative standards in at least one area. Students entering a four-year university straight out of high school fared much better, with only 14 percent in need of remedial classes. Florida thinks they have the answer to this problem. In the recently adopted Common Core Standards Initiative, the state plans to provide remedial classes to students while they are still enrolled in high school. We’re still scratching our heads over that one. While Howard failed to specify she was speaking only of community college students, her remarks were true. Grade: Standard.
In an obscenity-laced speech April 28, in Las Vegas, Nevada:
“I don’t know if you saw the vote. There was a vote in Egypt the other day. Ninety-nine percent of the people want to break the peace treaty with Israel. Did you see that? Did anybody see that? Ninetynine percent! So, we have problems. We have weak, pathetic leadership.” -Donald Trump, potential 2012 presidential candidate After we finished wiping away tears from laughing so hard, we decided to take a look at the facts behind Trump’s claim. When a politician throws out a statistic that seems a little too contrived, it usually is. But the closest thing we found resembling a vote (there wasn’t one) was a poll published by Pew Research Center last week, which said 54
percent of Egyptians want the peace treaty with Israel annulled. This statement is completely incorrect. Maybe the Donald misunderstood the data because his TV theme song was too loud. Either way, we give this statement a Canner Grade.
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Said during debate on the House floor April 3 as reported in the Austin American-Statesman on April 9:
by: Jad Dusek Lea Rittenhouse Kamren Thompson
For Love of the Game
America’s favorite game has a special place in East Texas, too. Here’s everything you need to know about baseball at home.
The nature of baseball is ever-changing By Jad Dusek
ee-ball is used to introduce the game of baseball to many kids across the country. Towns and cities of all sizes have youth leagues offering tee-ball to children in the five-to-six-year-old range. Colten LaFon, a Lindale tee-ball player, says he loves to play baseball. “It is a lot of fun,” he says. The smile on his face when baseball is mentioned shows the impact it has on his life. It’s not just a game, it’s a life changer. “Tee-ball is a time where the kids see that it is not only about the win, they learn key life skills, such as sportsmanship,” said Amanda LaFon, Colten’s mother. After tee-ball comes coach-pitch, or for many different towns, machine-pitch. This particular league is where many kids feel like they are playing real baseball for the first time because a pitch is being thrown at them. Coach-pitch is still a time where many kids are figuring out if they like baseball or not, and for many “hardcore” baseball players, it starts getting frustrating. The object of coach-pitch is to be the transition 18 • The Pine Curtain
between tee-ball and kid-pitch. The kids learn different aspects of the game with live pitch involved. In coach-pitch, kids begin to throw the ball around the diamond, which for many is a big step in their baseball career. Coaches can begin to teach their players how to turn a double play, which consists of making two outs with one swing of the bat. The most common double play is when the shortstop throws it to the second baseman, who then throws to first base in hopes of gaining two outs. The next step along the way to a baseball career is kid pitch. This league begins with players at age nine. This particular league makes the transition easier for many kids. They either love and thrive off of the adrenaline of the game or they are scared of getting hit with the ball and decide to quit. Kid-pitch is when many kids say they feel like they are playing ball just like they see on television. “Kids love to act like the professionals and this is a time in their career where they can,” said TJ Ladd, coach for the Frozen Ropes Titans in McKinney. In this league players learn different aspects of the game such as; leading off, stealing, pickoffs and throw-downs.
a journey for others. Jon Thompson, a 2004 Mineola graduate, said baseball was what he lived for. Thompson had several scholarship offers due to his pitching ability. He decided to take a scholarship to Panola Junior College as an effort to further his baseball career. “I was getting talked to by different scouts about my future in baseball, it was a fun time in my life,” Thompson said. After coming off one of his best relief outings against Paris Junior College in 2005, Thompson started the next game against Texarkana Junior College. It would be his last game. Thompson tore his rotator cuff during the game and had to have surgery. “I was devastated,” Thompson said. “Everything that I had ever worked for was coming to an end over something that I had no control over.” Injuries play a big role in whether or not many make it to the next level. The nature of baseball always changes, whether it is the players growing up and going to different leagues, parents getting more serious and pushing their children to the limit, or even the injuries many players face, but one thing that always stays the same is the game itself.
Everything that I had ever worked for was coming to an end over something that I had no control over.
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All of these are important things to learn at a young age so that by the time a player reaches high school they have a good sense of the game. Although some quit along the way, players who have shown they have talent are an enjoyable thing to watch. “It’s not only about the talents that they have that are impressive, it’s the mental aspect that surprises me,” says Ladd. Once city league is over for many it is on to “select” baseball. Select baseball is a place for kids who have thrived through city leagues and now want more of a challenge with kids who play at similar talent levels. This is a time in the young baseball player’s career where they see if they have “it” or not. Caleb Sneed played on the Mineola Bombers 15-and-under team, and enjoyed every minute of it. “I loved playing select baseball because of the competition that it offers,��� Sneed said. “In summer ball, I got looked at by many scouts that would have never seen me in a high school baseball season.” Select baseball is about offering players who want to pursue baseball as a career the opportunity to improve their skills. It is not always fun and games in select baseball.
The competition is very stout, with particular teams like the Mineola Bombers traveling all over the country to play other top select teams. “I take my kids to different colleges so that they have the opportunity to be looked at by many scouts,” said Bobby Dan, Mineola Bombers Head Coach and Founder. For many kids, select baseball is the highest level they reach, but it is the start of
Tyler Little League to host tournament for ninth year
By Lea Rittenhouse Eleven-year-old Aaron Janecek said he met some of his best friends playing Little League baseball. His team is always happy when they win a game but he realizes baseball is more than just winning, he said. “We always tell the other team, ‘good game’ even if we lose or win because sometimes they deserve a win and sometimes we do too,” Aaron said. 20 • The Pine Curtain
He believes playing baseball has taught him how to do teamwork. “We have to work as a team, and we all win and lose together as a team and it’s no ones fault that we lose, it’s the whole team,” Aaron said. He has played baseball for as long as he can remember and believes all children should try playing the game. “I’ve played all my life, like in my back yard when I was young, and now I play league baseball,” he said.
is unique, and said other locations are competing to host this year’s event. Michael said he believes Little League brings a unique dynamic to baseball. “I think Little League is giving all the kids in the area opportunity regardless of skill level and it really varies,” he said. “Some players are new to the game and may only play for a few years, and some players will probably go and play through high school and college.” As a coach, he said he enjoys instilling the idea of teamwork and how the whole team is dependant on each other. “With the younger kids its more about ‘me’ and they’re concerned about their stuff and their deal,” he said. “We succeed as a team and we don’t succeed
as a team. It’s together.” He said he wants the players to feel as though they are a part of something larger than themselves. The Little League Nationals mission statement says, “Through the use proper guidance and exemplary leadership, the Little League program assists youth in developing the qualities of citizenship, discipline, teamwork and physical wellbeing.” Currently 2.5 million children participate in Little League worldwide, said Michael Farrell, district 10 administrator. Little League is a strictly volunteer-run organization with the exception of paid empires. District 10 is made up of Rose Capital West Little League, Rose Capital East Little League and Crockett Merchants Little League. Each one is a separate Little League franchise with respective boards members. President of RCELL Rory Dukes said district lines and boundaries are drawn based upon the size of the community and the population within the area. “The boundaries more or less try to equal out the number of players in each league,” he said. RCWLL has 567 children participating this spring, and plays its games at Faulkner Park in South Tyler. RCELL has 478 children participating, and plays games at Golden Road Park. Dukes said he began coaching and managing teams before joining the board about four years ago. Last fall he became president. “I’ve been affiliated with baseball, either little league, affiliated or some fashion of youth baseball, most of my life,” Dukes said. He has two sons who play in the league. Dukes said RCELL also has a special needs league called Challengers for youth with mental and physical challenges. “It is for kids with special needs and they have to May 5, 2011 • 21
“It’s fun and I think a lot of kids should do it because it gives you a chance to work as a team and make some new friends.” Tyler Little League officials plan to hold the 2011 state tournament in Tyler, the ninth year in a row. Aaron’s father, Michael Janecek, is a five-year Rose Capital West Little League board member. “I was surprised that Tyler, being a town of about 100,000 or so, has been able to host that tournament this long,” said Michael, who is also a coach. This father of three league players believes the privilege of hosting the tournament for nine years
be between the ages of four and 18, or they can continue to play until they’re 22, if they are still enrolled in school,” he said. He said he believes little league nurtures healthy characteristics in children. “It teaches them a lot of the values and a lot of the ideals that we want our kids to grow up with,” Duke said. “Little League does it in a good environment where you have people all pulling together to help these kids have a place to learn these values.” Coach and RCWLL board member of five years Todd McCrea said he believes it is a heritage to be passed on by volunteers and coaches that want to teach children how to enjoy the game. “The experience for the kids is to just have a fun experience, and for most it is the free snow cone after the baseball game, win or lose,” he said. He also said he enjoys watching the children become confident, overcome adversity and excel under pressure. McCrea said the pinnacle experience for children who play in Little League is the World Series in Williamsport, Penn. “Every kid or adult who has played Little League dreams of going here,” he said. Michael Janecek said whether the youth progress in baseball or not, being involved with Little League is worth it. “Whether they become a fan, or play catch in the back yard with their kids one day, then that’s great,” he said.
22 • The Pine Curtain
Special Report May 5, 2011 • 23
Select baseball provides yearlong sporting outlet Special Report
By Kamren Thompson & Jad Dusek For a few young, East Texas baseball players, a three-month season is simply not long enough. To feed their love for the American past time, many of these devoted athletes participate in select baseball programs. There are several select baseball organizations in East Texas including the Dallas Patriots, East Texas Division, and the Mineola Bombers. The Dallas Patriots, created in 2000, have won league, state, regional and World Series Championships. “The mission of the Dallas Patriots is to honor God, strengthen the families mentally, spiritually and physically,” Logan Stout, founder and CEO of the Dallas Patriots said. “While providing the best baseball experience possible.” The East Texas branch of the organization is called the Dallas Patriots ETX and was only recently created. “They knew there was talent in East Texas, but to save guys from having to drive to Dallas weekly and sometimes two or three times a week, they started East 24 • The Pine Curtain
Texas teams,”Nathan Skeen, Dallas Patriots ETX coach, said. Skeen said he hopes to make the participants better players but also better people. “Baseball is great, but at the end of the day, we want to make them better people, better husbands and dads one day,” he said. “The ‘DP’ on the hats not only stands for Dallas Patriots but also discipline and pride.” Keith Brown, Dallas Patriots coach, said a goal of
Courtesy East Texas Pumpjacks
2 percent of athletes play past high school,” Skeen said. The youngest Dallas Patriots team is made up of 6- to 8-year-olds, while the oldest team is made of 17- to 18-year-olds. Brown said the Dallas Patriots organization has about 40 teams, each with a roster from 11 to 15 players. The East Texas division has about 45 to 50 players and 12 to 15 member teams. The Dallas Patriots also specifically choose players. “We have tryouts and if we believe the player has collegiate potential, we invite him aboard,” Skeen said. “We also look at stand out players at the high school level and guys that contribute to their high school team’s success.” Stout and Brown said the Dallas Patriots program brings to the table skills that school baseball programs may not. “We are very fortunate to have the resources and coaching staff that we do,” Brown said. “Through the Dallas Patriots, players receive professional, one-onone instruction.” Skeen, as well as most of the Dallas Patriots coaches, have collegiate experience, and some coaches even have professional experience. “We have been there in all situations, the highs, the lows, the grueling practices and workouts, most of us pretty recently,” he said. “The players love being around guys that have played the game at a high level and being able to ask questions in the exciting of transitioning from high school to collegiate competition.” The Mineola Bombers was founded in the mid 1970’s by Bobby Dan, a resident of Mineola, Texas. The Bombers are an organization that strives to put the best talent on the field. “I try to get the best talent May 5, 2011 • 25
his is to see players graduate and play baseball at the collegiate and professional level. “We have graduated many players on to the next level,” Brown said. “Too many to count.” Stout said every player graduated through the program is afforded the opportunity to play college baseball. Some of the Dallas Patriots 2011 graduates include Josh Bell and John Curtiss, who signed with The University of Texas at Austin, Trevor Story and Braden Strickland, who signed with Louisiana State University, Kyle Bailey, who signed with Clemson University, Greg Milorn, who signed with the University of Arkansas, Kevin Terry and Jeff Stovall, who signed with the University of Nebraska and Nick Petersen and Nathan Garza, who are joining the U.S. Air Force. Chris Davis, a Dallas Patriots alumnus from Longview, plays first base for The Texas Rangers. “This is a tremendous accomplishment as only
possible and then take them all over the country to get looked at,” said Dan. The Mineola Bombers won the 17 and under World Series five years ago and have won many other leagues and tournaments. For many kids high school baseball doesn’t get them looked at like many select baseball programs do. “For my program the goal is to get as many kids looked at and to the next level as possible,” said Dan. The Mineola Bombers do not play in any particular summer league. This summer they plan to travel to the University of Nebraska, Texas A&M and Centenary (Louisiana) to just name a few places. When they go to these colleges they have a showcase game or tournament. This is a time where different teams come and play in front of many different schools and scouts. The Bombers plan on having four teams, two 15
and under, and two 17 and under. This particular program has proven to produce some great ball players with alumni such as Travis Chick (Seattle Mariners), Pat Mahomes (Texas Rangers), Josh Tomlin, who is playing for the Cleveland Indians right now and has started to a 4-0 start as a pitcher, and Rob Childress, who is the Head Baseball Coach for Texas A&M. Bobby Dan and his coaching staff are planning to meet this week to discuss when and where they are going to have tryouts for this upcoming season. “We didn’t have try-outs the past couple of years, but when we did we would have 75 try-out and there would be 10-15 professional scouts there,” said Dan. Dan is looking for players who have talent, but most of all kids who are coachable. “If they have some talent then I can teach them the rest, they have to be able to take instruction,” said Dan.
Two prospects shine bright By Jad Dusek Many kids grow up dreaming of playing baseball in the future, but for two local athletes this may become a reality. Whitehouse resident Matt Durst is a catcher coaches say has the potential to take his career to the next level. The 5-foot-11-inch Durst weighs in at 215 pounds, and has the broad and stout frame preferred for a catcher. Perfect Game USA, the world’s largest scouting system, projected him an 8 out of 10, which means he is anticipated to play at a Division 1 school, right out of high school. 26 • The Pine Curtain
Durst shows great hands behind the plate and a very quick release, turning in a 1.91 pop time at Perfect Game. He demonstrates time and again he is a powerful athlete who can hit it to all fields. “He has raw strength when hitting the baseball,” said Derrick Jenkins, Whitehouse High School head baseball coach. “You can smell the leather of the baseball when he hits it by you in the cage.” Durst is a very solid player behind the plate, handling the pitchers very well. “He doesn’t call his own game because of the style of coach I am, but he is one of the only players I would trust to do a good job,” said Jenkins.
McAfee takes a very balanced approach to batting and has very quick hands, according to Perfect Game. He had given a verbal commitment to Texas A&M University, but last March signed a National Letter of Intent to attend Panola Junior College in Carthage, Texas next year. Many baseball players of McAfee’s talent decide to attend junior college so a professional team can draft them after their first year. Junior college allows players to develop one more year, and many scouts want to see the progression the player is making. McAfee is the number one prospect for the 2010.
More than just a game For some athletes, a game is more than winning or losing entire futures can be changed in a matter of moments. By Jad Dusek For me baseball was life. When I was born my dad already had a glove put on my hand and knew that I was going to be a baseball player when I grew up. For many kids it is all about the fun, but for me it was something more. I always tried to push myself to be better. I decided to take my baseball career to the next level when I left city league to play for the McKinney Mustangs. I remember it was the first time I was on a team who had 3 different sets of uniforms. Even the excitement I felt was just different. Select baseball was what made me the player
I turned out to be. The tough competition and always playing up made me strive to give it my all. When many kids were going out and hanging out with friends, I was either hitting baseballs or taking groundball to always make sure that my game was as good as it could be. One thing that many kids look forward to when they turn 16 is a brand new car. Well, for me it was having my parents get me a new Home Plate pitching machine, instead of a car. Many of my friends thought I was crazy, but I told them when I make it to the big leagues one day I can buy whatever car I want. The pitching machine was one my dad could program to throw a 90 mph fastball up and in, and then the next pitch could be a 70 mph curveball, May 5, 2011 • 27
Durst signed a National Letter of Intent in January with Northeast Texas Community College in Mount Pleasant, Texas. Longview resident Brett McAfee is another East Texas prospect whom scouts have tracked during his years of development. The six-foot-tall Pine Tree High School shortstop weighs in at 180 pounds, which some scouts say is the typical size of up-and-coming shortstops. At Perfect Game in 2010, he ran a 6:68 60yard dash and his throws across the infield were clocked at 85 mph, showing he is quick enough to play shortstop and has the arm to throw across the diamond.
low and away. It was like a real pitcher, it was something that I had never seen before. My mom said that she would always wake up to the sound of me hitting in the cage at 6:15 every morning. I would hit all day long in the cage, trying to be a perfect. It’s amazing that in a game where you strive to be perfect, you can hit just .300 and be known as an outstanding player. I went on to play at Denton Liberty Christian, where I had the honor of winning a state championship ring and earned 3 First-Team All-State awards as a
28 • The Pine Curtain
shortstop. Professional scouts and the University of Texas coaches were talking to me, and I was going to showcase camps at Louisiana State University. I thought that all of my hard work was truly beginning to pay off. I decided to go to Austin College for one year due to an injury I got my senior year. I was advised to go somewhere else and then get picked up the year after. During my first season I was hitting .474 through 19 games. Then my life turned for what I thought was the
worst. Coach had given me a hit and run sign and I put the ball on the ground between short and third. While I was running to first base the shortstop threw the ball up the line to make the first baseman come off of the bag and try to tag me. I dodged the tag but when I put my foot on the bag I heard a pop. I had torn my ACL, MCL, PCL, and Lateral Meniscus. Life for me was finished, is what I thought. I know that there are many players out there that
have gone through the same thing and the same struggles. Baseball is a game that many kids don’t just love to play, it is a way of life. They truly eat, breathe, and sleep baseball. I give all of my credit my parents who pushed me to be better, and were always there for me in the ups and down of my career. They drove all across the country seven days a week to take me to games. Don’t ever take the things you do in life for granted, because one day you might wake up and nothing is the same.
Special Report May 5, 2011 • 29
A Faire-y E
very spring, the Four Winds Faire in Whitehouse takes the citizens of East Texas on an adventure to the past. In a world of maidens and magic, fantasy-loving friends and families have been enchanting fans for years. Take a look behind East Texas’ most magical event.
Parchment image courtesy photoshopstar.com
The Makings of a Medieval Marvel
30 • The Pine Curtain
Features May 5, 2011 • 31
The Queen of the Faire greets attendants from her chariot.
By Kristin Adams
our Winds Faire sits off the main road, nestled behind trees and tucked into the countryside. Within its gates a mixture of people who call themselves a ‘faire family’. The vendors, cast and ‘playtrons’, those who attend faire dressed in costume but are paying customers, connect in various ways. Each individual is willing to offer their time and effort to make the fair a place where everyone is welcome. Growing Together Sara Dunlap, owner of Ladye Fayre Dolls, is involved in four different shows on the eastern side of the United States. Though Four Winds is not one of the larger faires she attends, she said she enjoys the atmosphere. “We’ve done a lot of big shows,” she said, “This show has the feel and appearance of the small English village I grew up in.” At every show she sets up a building next door 32 • The Pine Curtain
to her daughter’s wool shop which she considers her ‘doll house’. Together Dunlap and her daughter maintain a small garden beside their shops. This year they are helping Dustin Stephens, owner of Four Winds Faire, by planting garden beds around the base of each of the small trees that have been planted. Dunlap invests time and energy into making the fair environment welcoming, and said it takes several different people to accomplish this task. Family Ties Leathersmith Bruce Garner stays busy during the off season gathering hides and working his art, as well as working full-time job. He said he doesn’t use modern social networks to stay in touch with friends. When fair season begins again and the Terrell resident steps back onto the Four Winds site, he’s greeted by familiar faces and open arms. “It’s like having a 10-week family reunion,” Garner said. “We catch up, figure out what’s happened over the years and pick up where we left off.” Many of the vendors work at multiple fairs and
see each other at various times throughout the year. Nancy Lyons-Harvey has worked two different Texas fairs, including Four Winds. She said people involved in the fair are from ‘different walks of life’ but still unite. “We are bonded by the love of the period, artistry and culture of fair,” Harvey said. Helping Hands Carrie Grier, her husband Tim and son Chris have been part of the Four Winds Faire for almost 15 years. The Whitehouse residents own The Celtic Armory, which is near the center of the fair site. Two other shops nearby are owned and operated by members of Carrie’s family. A small game booth is operated by her sister Tammy, and the shop beside it is run by her parents. This past year Grier’s mom had some health issues which limited her mobility. At a small preseason gathering, Carrie mentioned needing to find a motorized wheelchair for her mom. One of the ladies in attendance offered ‘grandma’ the unused chair stored in her garage. “It was an amazing gift of love, to know that someone who barely knew us would be so generous,” Grier said.
Teamwork Each vendor and acting group works together to create a piece of history for customers to enjoy. They work together during the week, but during off-season each prepare their art. One of these groups is the Dream Harem Bellydancers, owned and operated by Meloyne Grant of Tyler. These women meet on a weekly basis to work on routines and build their show from year to year. The women are from different working backgrounds and from all stages of life. They spend a large portion of their time working together and as a result friendships are formed. “There is more than just camaraderie,” Grant said. “They are spiritual sisters when they are out there on stage.” One of Grant’s students, Heidi Tompkins of Tyler, has been dancing for several years. She travels with Grant’s group to competitions and various shows, including Four Winds. “We do make bonds, and we are very protective of those people,” Tompkins said. It’s through these bonds that a fair runs smoothly from year to year. These connections make those participating in the event willing to come back and spend time entertaining audiences through a small piece of living history.
Features May 5, 2011 • 33
By Haylee Story
ousting: check. Sword fighting: check. Royalty: check. After all, this is the Renaissance. In this midst of all of maidens, pirates and peddlers, young boys and girls run around in costume wielding both swords and various European accents. Nearby the queen prepares for her carriage ride to court. As she climbs in, a teenage boy in musketeer garb patiently helps her up and tucks her heavy gown in after her. Once she is settled, she dismisses the young pages and musketeers. They are free from duty, momentarily, but some linger around, in case the queen or another lady of the court might need their
34 • The Pine Curtain
assistance. It is clear that their role in the faire is more than a job. Four Winds Faire is not a typical HenryElizabethan era faire. The royalty here are French. Vanessa Alberts, who plays Lady Catherine at the faire, said the goal of the faire is to be unique. “[The faire owner] doesn’t want this faire to be run-of-the mill. He wants us to be individuals,” she said. The faire is a living history lesson for Alberts’ two boys. She has them research, in-depth, their characters’ duties and lifestyle as part of their homeschool lessons. The Alberts family participated in four or five faires in several states during each of the last 18 years. One son, Dustin, plays Lt. Musketeer Cassius Dupre Tarron. He said playing a musketeer isn’t so much about speaking, it focuses more on “guarding
is based on age and talent. A squire must be 17 or 18 years old and show enough skill in accuracy, swordsmanship, games, hunting and battle training to be noticed by the queen or the faire owner. Squiring is a hard job, but becoming a knight and participating in games is an honor he said that makes the hard work worth it. Meanwhile girls at the faire predominately serve royalty in the court. The girls learn to “serve, cook and prepare all the things that are present at tea,” Ahlers said. They also clean up after guests have finished, similar to a waitress in a modern restaurant. “We teach our wee ones that a job well done is an achievement and something to be proud of,” Ahlers said. There are many ways for youth to get involved in Renaissance life. Some are born into it, others visit and become fascinated and join the cast. The rest simply come for an afternoon of traveling back in time. However the children are involved, the goal of the faire is education and entertainment. A former king of Four Winds said it best: “We are here as a fairy tale, we are here to make your dreams come true.”
the queen and looking pretty.” The musketeers were to the queen what the Secret Service is to the U.S. president. They are essentially bodyguards and will do whatever is necessary to protect any royal in their charge. This is a responsibility that Dustin and his younger brother, known as Arpageio, don’t take lightly. One weekend Arpageio was unable to come to the faire because he was sick. He worried about who would serve the ladies at tea time and who would take care of the queen. Dustin said the most important thing he has learned at the faire is “how to control patience.” He does a lot of waiting around on the royals, but said he is glad to do it. “The kids learn to be selfless and giving,” Vanessa said proudly. The queen at Four Winds is Sandy Ahlers. Her formal title is Princess Margueritte of France, Queen of Navarre. As a mother of six, she said she knows how difficult it can be to get children to do basic chores at home. “At the faire, the wee ones focus on work in a different way. Here it’s not a chore, but an honor,” Ahlers said. Perhaps the biggest attraction at Four Winds is the joust. Armor-clad knights ride massive horses with lances and strike each other. It’s a dangerous sport, and each knight has a squire to help him along the way. Master Jonathon Williams, 17, is a knight-in-training, but has been squiring at Four Winds since he was 13 years old. He said squiring is “the most grueling process you’ll ever go through.” Being a squire involves many duties. Along with the privilege of learning swordsmanship and games, they must also care for horses, carry their knight’s shield and tend to knight’s armor. Williams said he is very close to being knighted. A promotion from squire to knight
May 5, 2011 • 35
Ladies of the Court By Rachel Pratas
he sound of an axe thrower greets guests at the entrance of the Four Winds Renaissance Faire. It is the first step in a trip back in time. Vendors line the outer perimeter of the faire, various entertainment booths are scattered throughout inside and a jousting arena borders the back. Women dressed in shades of pink and teal stand out in Arleen Dougherty of Enchanted Shire crafts jewelry. contrast to the dark green and brown clothes worn by what she wants. Her employees work out of their the men. Wearing elaborate dresses flowing with own homes. ruffles, the women of the faire draw the attention “I don’t just buy something and sell it in a shop; of visitors. I’m a crafter, so either I have to make it or people The ladies are hard at work in their shops getting who work for me have to make it. We import very ready for a show. They work hard to make the faire little, it’s all made in America,” Russell said. a memorable experience. While she is the only one in her family actively Dressed in a large, white shirt tied at her belly involved in Renaissance faires, her family is always button, beige pants and leather boots, Christine there to help her out with the business. Russell sits in her shop, White Pavilion Clothiers, “It’s a family interest, but not a family business,” sewing a garment. Russell said. A native of Florida, Russell went to school in White Pavilion Clothiers offers Renaissance era Tennessee, where she lives when she is not touring clothing and accessories for all ages, ranging in Renaissance faires. price from five dollars to $250. Russell gained sewing skills while working in But clothes aren’t the only thing available at theater, and she has been creating costumes since the Renaissance Faire. Jewelry is a big seller, and 1991. Enchanted Shire has everything from Celtic designs “A lot of people think that we only work on to hand made bead jewelry. weekends,” Russell said. “But, if you’re a business Arleen Dougherty creates jewelry at her wooden owner, it’s like owning any other small business.” desk, cutting the wire used for jewelry she creates. Russell isn’t alone in her work though. She Her teal dress contrasts with her red hair, which she contracts out some labor and friends help her has pulled into a bun high on her head. make some of the clothes. She provides all the When she isn’t Arleen, she takes on the alias, materials needed and gives her helpers an idea of Grace O’Malley. 36 • The Pine Curtain
“She was an Irish queen, as much of a queen as Ireland ever had, but the English labeled her a pirate. During that time period in Ireland though, piracy was considered an honorable thing to do,” Dougherty said. “She kept Ireland free and out of Elizabeth’s hands.” Dougherty, who has attended Renaissance faires since 1980, spent her childhood in Long Island, New York. She said her love of the Renaissance era began when she was three years old and her mother sat her down in front of a television set to watch A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Making jewelry to sell at Renaissance faires has been Dougherty’s full-time job for 25 years. Dougherty has been in the jewelry business for 25 years, setting up shop at Renaissance faires, craft fairs and Celtic festivals. She doesn’t bead solo though. Dougherty thinks of friends who help her with her craft as family. “It is a family operation. The people that live in my house all help,” Dougherty said. “My friends will come over when I’m home, and will actually help me do it or at least keep me company.” Jewelry at the Enchanted Shire is priced anywhere from five dollars to more than $100, depending on the materials used.
But even if you don’t have any spending money, there is plenty of free entertainment at the Four Winds Faire. Tucked away behind a velvet curtain at the back of a red carpeted stage, belly dancers relax between shows. Meloyne Grant is dressed in purple, her strawberry blonde hair pulled back from her face with a matching scarf. Her eye makeup matches perfectly as it fades from a harsh purple into soft lavender around her feathered eyelashes. Grant said she hasn’t always been involved in Renaissance faires. Her husband went to high school with Four Winds Faire owner, Dustin Stephens, and they visited the faire in 1994, the first year it was open. After complimenting Grant on her homemade costume and watching her dance with cast members during a show, Stephens asked her to dance at the Faire the next year. “It was my excuse to be able to get out there and dance and be creative with costuming,” Grant said. “The next year we sat on top of a hill in a tent and I sold costumes and danced on a rug in front of it.” She invited women from Texas and Louisiana to perform with her. “When Dustin made me the dance coordinator, if
Many musicians and performers, including these belly dancers, entertain regularly at the Four Winds Faire.
May 5, 2011 • 37
Trainer Melissa Arleth from New York City performs with her rat circus: “Cirque du Sewer.”
he found anyone that wanted to dance, he sent them to me,” Grant said. “We are a small faire so we have the opportunity to give a venue to dancers who need experience or want experience dancing in this kind of atmosphere.” She teaches her dancers everything from applying makeup to how to react to the crowd. Grant gives belly dancing lessons two days a week. Mondays are for the performance class and Tuesdays are reserved for beginners. Across the way, someone less girly but with the charm of a circus performer walks the faire grounds with an umbrella in hand. Melissa Arleth, her blond hair in pigtails, is dressed in her own handiwork; black pants with red polka dots, black and red-striped knee socks and red shirt. Perhaps most striking is the snow rat perched on her shoulder. It’s eyes match her red shirt. Hailing from the New York City area, Arleth manages a different type of show she likes to call “Cirque du Sewer,” a trained rat circus. “The rats jump through hoops and walk a tightrope, and then I walk slack rope,” Arleth said. A theater major, Arleth became involved in 38 • The Pine Curtain
Renaissance faires after spending the summer between her junior and senior year in college with the acting company. Eventually they gave her a stage and she began writing her own show. Now she travels the Renaissance faire circuit full time. Arleth said she gets in touch with the entertainment director of various faires, sends them promotional material, and let’s them know she is available. “Usually they will have heard of my show or they have an opening for a show like mine,” Arleth said. “After a certain amount of negotiation they offer me a contract.” Training rats caught Arleth’s interest in college after she trained a rat to push a lever during an animal behavior class. She has been training rats for three years, traveling to four or five faires each year. Whether a clothing designer or a belly dancer, a jewelry maker or rat trainer, it’s these ladies are a solid part of the faires atmosphere. The women of the Four Winds Faire come from everywhere, but they share the same goal: to spread their love of the Renaissance era.
Features May 5, 2011 • 39
My Fayre Ladye By Mary Parsons
ara Dunlap of Ladye Fayre Dolls, a doll shop located within the walls of the Four Winds Renaissance Faire, has always made dolls. When she was a child living in London just after World War II, Dunlap said toys were rare. When she and her brother were given a string puppet, the idea of making dolls was born. “We loved it so we made more,” Dunlap said. Her grandmother, a seamstress, taught Dunlap to sew. Her desire to make dolls grew stronger as she grew older. Dunlap moved to the United States after meeting her future husband, Ron Dunlap, an American Navy officer stationed in London.
40 • The Pine Curtain
“My friend dared me to go out with an American,” Dunlap said. “That was two weeks after my seventeenth birthday, he was just eighteen, and we’ve been together ever since.” The couple moved from place to place, wherever he was stationed by the Navy. They spent four years in Spain, and eventually Virginia and Rhode Island. She said she first had the idea to make dolls professionally when she was asked to design costumes for dolls during the American Bicentennial of 1976. “It was fun making them,” she said. “They all sold, so I thought ‘Maybe I can make a living at this.’” Dunlap and her husband now travel all across the United States, setting up the doll shop at Renaissance faires. Her daughter, Deborah Perusse, is also a Rennie, a nickname for someone who
Dunlap often finds inspiration for her doll’s attire by perusing other shops at the Renaissance faires where she works. Although she does order many of her materials outside of the Renaissance market, she said having those materials close by is beneficial. Dunlap and her husband choose to work at one faire in each state, so during the next several months they will be traveling to New York and Louisiana. Dunlap plans to return to Four Winds next year. Her dolls can be found online at Ladyefayre.com.
May 5, 2011 • 41
works at Renaissance faires. Perusse opened her own weaving shop next door to her mother’s doll shop. At the Four Winds Faire, Perusse often comes over to her mother’s shop just to chat or to see how the day’s work is going. When customers enter Ladye Fayre Dolls at the Four Winds, dragon string puppets catch their eye as they loom above, hanging from the old-style rafters. Dolls of every kind are on display along the walls of her shop, with prices ranging from $250 to $600. Some she creates herself in their entirety, mostly the cloth dolls dressed in Old World attire. Some are porcelain. Others are made of resin, a material made in Asia. Customers can see Dunlap at work as she sits in the corner of her shop, working her magic on a sewing machine. If someone has a question about her dolls, she often speaks as she continues her work. She also takes time to show customers around the shop, explaining the different types of dolls she carries. “I fell in love with these Asian dolls because they’re so exquisite,” Dunlap said to one customer. “because they’re so anatomically correct.” Unlike most dolls, Dunlap’s Asian-made dolls are made proportional to the human body. This allows her to create doll clothes in a way that would fit a miniature person. “It makes the sewing more fun that way,” she said.
Lady Isabella By Kristin Adams
42 • The Pine Curtain
obbie Patterson, aka Lady Isabella, and her horse Apollo are ‘horsey soul-mates’. The owner of Diamond P Equestrian Center in Longview sits tall in the saddle as Apollo demonstrates high stepping techniques Patterson taught him during years of training. Haute e’Cole, literally meaning “airs above the ground,” is the advanced form of classical dressage. It consists of the moves that the famous Lipizzaner Stallions perform. Apollo was born in Spain where he began his saddle and dressage training. He was purchased and moved to the Netherlands to work on higher Haute e’Cole level training. Patterson brought Apollo to Texas to finish his training on her ranch. Patterson has been training horses for nearly 30 years, starting when she was only 11 years old. “My first paying job a neighbor paid me to start saddle training. I was paid $25 and thought I was rich,” she said. She began her professional training with barrel racing and western pleasure. Both forms require horse and rider to understand commands quickly. She has learned many different styles and training techniques since then. She also worked in the racing industry but decided it was not the place for her. “I worked as an exercise person for a trainer, I found the ‘behind the scenes’ of a race horses’ life very depressing and sad,” she said. Horses begin training for races as early as 18 months; Patterson said this was like putting a three
year old in first grade. After watching a young filly put down after breaking a leg in a race, Patterson decided to switch jobs and became the assistant manager of a breeding horse farm. In 1985, Patterson started learning how to train Arabian horses. “Arabians are a very sensitive breed, they are known to bond with their families,” she said, “Arab people kept their horses in the tents with them.” In 2003, she began training horses in jousting.
Winds Faire Jousting Tournament each spring. Her son, Dusty Martel, held the champion title for seven years straight. They all anticipate competing in The International Jousting Tournament later this fall. Patterson currently has 15 different breeds of horses on her ranch, and is planning to add another. The new breed will be one that she has been cultivating with a group of horse breeders. The new breed of horse will stand 15 hands, or about 60 inches, at the point of shoulder. This means the horse will have a large, muscular, body frame. They plan to use the horses in jousting and to pull carriages. Patterson said she hopes the breed will be a specific mix of seven different breeds resulting in “a calm, beautiful, big, athletic horse.” They are in the second year of working on the breed, and anticipate it will be another three years before they have the first generation. Patterson incorporates horses into most aspects of her life. She traveled around the world to visit horses and also uses horses to bond with her family. With her knowledge and experience, she hopes to create a legacy in the production of the new breed.
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“It was a unique opportunity to develop a training program that was out of the ordinary,” she said. She has currently trained more than 15 horses for games and full tilt jousting. Often portrayed in movies, full tilt jousting involves two men on horseback riding toward each other with lances while attempting to strike their opponent. The jousting games include the quintain, a training tool for full tilt joust that places a target on a rotating mount that spins when struck. Scoring for quintain is calculated by the number of rotations. The other games require training a horse to run down a list, much like a cattle chute, while the rider performs different tasks. The horses are trained to ride without rein control from the rider, because both of the rider’s hands are occupied during full tilt jousts. Patterson spends 30 to 80 hours training joust horses before making a decision on whether to continue or end their training. “Some horses just don’t get it, and I will not force them to joust,” she said. “It’s asking for a problem to occur that could result in injury to horse or rider.” Patterson and her two sons participate in the Four
Ruff Handcrafts bout 10 years ago, Dave Ruff of Mt. Pleasant encountered a man who unknowingly changed his life forever. This man told Ruff it was impossible to build a reliable archery bow out of a piece of red oak. Because Ruff so strongly disagreed with this declaration, he felt compelled to disprove it. Never one to back down from a challenge, even a self-imposed one, Ruff immediately began researching the art of bow making. After about five months of intensive reading and studying, he learned the basic techniques for handcrafting a bow. Then he put his newly acquired knowledge to work by building bows, one after another. “I was never formally taught,” Ruff said. “It was just all handson and reading, just getting out there and doing it, and finally I got it down to an art. I’ve been selling bows ever since.” What began as a personal challenge has flourished into Ruff’s full-time occupation. In his workshop at home, he makes bows, arrows and other archery supplies. Subsequently, he sells his handcrafted archery equipment in two ways: at Renaissance and street fairs and via his website, www.stickbowarchery.com Courtesy stickbowarchery.com
By Hattie Kemp
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Ruff just finished an eight-weekend stint throughout March and April at the Four Winds Renaissance Faire located between Whitehouse and Troup, where he worked as the faire’s bowyer. A bowyer is someone who makes or sells archers’ bows. In addition to running the faire’s bowyer shop, Ruff also had other duties this year. He performed as the head musketeer of the French court—Athos, aka Count de la Fère—and as a drummer for the Dream Harem Belly Dance Troupe. For the past six years, Ruff has worked at the Four Winds Renaissance Faire. Other fairs he currently works include the Oklahoma Renaissance Festival in Muskogee, First Monday Trade Days in Canton and Third Monday Trade Days in McKinney. About seven years ago, he worked at the Wildwood Forge, the armory of the Scarborough Faire Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie. He is hoping to add the Kansas City Renaissance Festival in Bonner Springs, Kansas and the Louisiana Renaissance Festival in Hammond to his upcoming schedule. Ruff’s longtime love of archery and learning new things nurtured his interest in the art of bow making.
grade and matched-grade. The munitions-grade arrows are merely for practice while the matchedgrade arrows are for serious competition. He hand picks his bow wood from a large lumber mill in East Texas. After delivery of the wood, he processes it and dries it for nine months to season it. Next, he selects the best pieces to create his bows. Finally, he categorizes his allwood bows into two types: wood and laminate. “I grade the bows A, B and C, depending on the type of wood and how straight the grain is,” he said. “The straighter the grain, the more even the grain, the better the bow is going to cast.” To construct his laminate bows, Ruff applies special glue to the wooden bow. Then, using twopiece forms, he puts the bow under pressure and bakes it at 185 degrees for 2 1/2 hours. Afterward, he hand cuts, grinds and tests each bow. Ruff makes several different types of bows and arrows along with other archery equipment. A complete list of his inventory and prices can be found by logging on to his website. His company’s mission statement is to make a good quality bow for a working man’s price. “I do not believe in overcharging,” he said. “Let’s face it; bows are made the same way they have been made for the past 5,000 years. The laminate bows that high-end bowyers and companies make are made the same way I make them.” As for the future, Ruff wants to open an archery range and club on his property in Mt. Pleasant. He believes it would be successful since the nearest ones are currently in Paris and Denton. Eventually, he would like to host Archery Shooters Association events at his range. Ruff said he still remembers the man who gave him his first bow. “If there’s a kid out there who has one of my bows after I’m dead and gone and if it’s still operational, that for me will truly be a treasure,” he said. “The reward is not the money. It’s the giving, sharing and letting the archery live on and on.”
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“I’ve been shooting for 28 years,” he said. “I started when I was 13 years old. I got into archery by getting a bow and teaching myself how to shoot.” In the early to mid-1990s, he traveled up and down the East Coast, shooting on the semi-pro circuit and winning several archery tournaments. Ruff retired from competing professionally but never lost his passion for the sport. After his retirement, he apprenticed under other bowyers to learn how to make crossbows. As an apprentice, he worked with them on several TV shows, including “Deadliest Warrior” on the SPIKE TV channel. He helped to make bows for its second season and part of its third. Ruff also served as a bowyer consultant on the movie, “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.” Six years ago, Ruff employed an apprentice, Traci Halarooks of Tyler, to assist him at his shop and at fairs. “I’ve learned how to make arrows and how to put serving on the strings. The serving is where you rest your arrow,” Halarooks said. The serving helps to hold the nock in place. A nock is usually a slot cut in the back of the arrow, into which an archer places the string. The purpose of a nock is to keep the arrow in place on the string, as an archer draws the bow. She said Ruff uses all-natural turkey feathers for the fletching on his arrows, and they can be dyed any color. The fletching consists of three short rows of feathers found at the back of an arrow. It provides a small amount of drag to stabilize the arrow’s flight. In other words, it keeps the arrow pointed in the direction of travel by preventing it from moving up or down or side to side. Halarooks said making arrows requires a lot of work. “Once you have it all cut out and rounded, you can fletch it, tip it and put the nock on in about an hour,” she said. “It’s a lot of fun.” Ruff makes two types of arrows: munitions-
Fantastic Fashions By Kamren Thompson
summer. She said she spends about $500 per dress, fter strolling the grounds with other and she has spent about $3,000 total on dresses, accessories and jewelry. ladies of the court, Comtesse del Fannie Conroy, another lady of the court, said Marie Dupree rests inside the shade of the queen’s quarters. Her hunter- her sister made her gown. “When I auditioned, and I got the part, I started green and black 15th-century profusely begging,” she said. “I won out.” French-style satin dress billows over the arms of Conroy’s cream and floral dress, like most of the the floral chair she sits in. gowns, is separated into Multiple jeweled pieces. necklaces, including “I did several months several long strands research before I went of pearls, adorn her and found a couple of gown. Her long, patterns and brought it brunette hair is styled up there for approval,” for the French court, she said. including a matching, The hoop skirt is the green muffin-top hat first piece. It is usually complete with a large a succession of three black feather. flexible hoops sewn at Several accessories lengths to push out the hang around her waist, skirt. The second piece including a fan made is a skirt, and then the from a colorful array of women attach an outer green feathers, a small skirt. black purse and a white Some dresses require kerchief embellished corsets and bodices, with gold-jeweled but the last required brooches. piece is the chemise, Every year, Judy Lee, Fannie Conroy showing off her costume. or top, which must be who plays Dupree, laced up the back to be sports extravagant historically accurate. gowns of 15th century “You cannot dress by France for the Four yourself,” Conroy said. Winds Renaissance Lee said French women of the 1600s used to Faire. have servants to help them get ready. Now the “We are the most historically accurate fair women help each other. It takes them about two in the state of Texas for period costumes,” Lee hours to get ready every day. One of the most time said. “If something is not period, we will know consuming aspects for Lee is hair. immediately.” “You do not wear short hair in the French court,” Lee has participated in renaissance faires for she said. “I have wigs, but I prefer the more natural years. Her costumes, which many participants ones because it gets hot.” commonly call “garb,” are specially made Lee, with the help of Conroy, attaches natural depending on whether the dress is for winter or Tiffany Drake
46 • The Pine Curtain
Examples of traditional Renaissance fashion featured at the Faire.
in the court. He tries to find light fabrics when making doublets because some can weigh up to 50 pounds with the jewels attached. He chose white for the undershirt because at the time, white was a very expensive colored fabric because it had to be made from cow urine. The lace on his shirt is a very specific length, falling about in the middle of the palm, because anything longer would have been reserved for the king. The doublet has silver and black buttons every three inches, but Pabinquit said technically, the buttons should be every inch for historical accuracy. He was wearing a kilt to celebrate the Highland Fling, but he said most of the time he wears pants. The fabric for the doublet he was wearing cost about $18, but he has spent about $150 on doublets, which is still not as much as purchasing a finished doublet for about $280. Accessories are very important part of both men’s and women’s period costumes. May 5, 2011 • 47
hair extensions every morning. Carrie Scott, who has attended fairs since 1998, and worked at the Texas Renaissance festival since 2001, said the clothing has positive aspects. “You can dress any body type. The clothes are very forgiving,” she said. “Corsets are rather easy on the back. I have fewer back problems during the faire season.” Women aren’t the only ones sporting detailed renaissance “garb.” Robert Pabinquit, a male member of the court, makes his own costumes for the faire. He said he usually goes to local fabric stores to find material. “You find fabric that’s light and breathable,” Pabinquit said. “Once you find it, you wash the material first. If you cut and then wash, it will do some really weird things.” Pabinquit made his scarlet, sleeveless doublet, which is a form-fitting jacket, over a white, longsleeve, lace-finished undershirt. He attached sapphires encased in silver to indicate his position
Pabinquit’s accessories included black English riding boots and a cavalier hat, which he created by soaking and reshaping a cowboy hat. Most women also wear boots at the fair. Scott said she gets boots from Son of Sandlar, but there are options such as rope sandals and ghillies, which are slip-on shoes. Kristan Dawkins, who has been attending faires for 12 years, bought a pair of boots from Son of Sandlar. The boots were $400, but have lasted seven years. The court at the Four Winds Renaissance Faire is French, so jewelry with the Fleur-de-lis is very common among women, along with pearls, which were popular during the time period. It is a requirement that women of the court wear hats. Lee said women without hats are referred to as naked. “We have different hats, tiaras, muffin hats, which would be styled more for royalty, and flatter hats” Lee said. Most of the hats are adorned with feathers or even entire birds. “I have one tiny hat that sits right on top of the head and has a bird on the side,” Lee said. “It’s really hard to get on, and you have to be very careful wearing it.” Lee said she is usually able to find a lot of the pieces of her outfits at antique shops. Another lady of the court, Tammy Halbrooks, said it’s surprising what can be found at local thrift shops, but she also said she finds pieces online. Scott said she finds things at moresca.com, pendragoncostumes.com, ravenswoodleather. com, oddbodkin.com and mayfairemoon.com. Nothing can be held in ladies hands, which
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means the women must have purses to the side. Other accessories include handkerchiefs, doilies and fans. “Most of us have fans, both to look pretty and to fan ourselves on a hot day,” Halbrooks said. The weather is a very serious issue for faire participants. Part of the two week training before the faire teaches participants how to safely wear the costumes in the heat. “You really have to watch the heat and pace yourself,” Lee said. “In training, they put you in garb so you get used to it. It’s not the same doing anything in garb.” Lee said the corsets can be laced so tight it makes it very difficult to breathe, and the layers and weight of the dresses make dehydration a real concern. Pabinquit said the queen’s dress weights about 80 pounds. “The garb can be heavy and you have to pretend like it’s not,” he said. Pabinquit said he can’t imagine how men wear leather doublets in the Texas heat. Most of the women said they dry-clean their dresses and store them in garment bags. “Sometimes a dress may only last one season,” Lee said. “You get a lot of wear and tear around the bottom because they are pretty low to the ground.” Scott said the corsets take special care because they can rust if not cleaned properly. Conroy, a tomboy at heart, said one of the toughest things about the dresses is remembering she’s not in jeans and can’t bend whenever she wants, recalling experiences when the wind blew her hoop skirt into the air. “It’s called ‘four winds’ for a reason,” Lee said.
Mournings’ Glory By Jasmine Smith
May 5, 2011 • 49
our Winds Renaissance Faire fills a remote East Texas meadow every spring, transforming it into a 17th century European countryside. At the meadow’s center, a ship’s crow’s nest beckons to visitors from the lair of the Misty Mournings, the pirates. The Mournings have been entertaining faire visitors for the past 15 years. “We play with the kids and we are all characters who will also interact with other people in the show to help entertain the kids,” said Captain Diddles, lead collaborator with the founder Captain John of the Mournings. Diddles has been a part of the ‘Mourning crew’ for six years. “I have always been involved in this faire as a pirate, and I have never wanted to be anything else,” he said. As history shows, pirates aren’t out of place when it comes to this time period. “The French court would have pirates to do their bidding and [the agreement] was pretty much ‘go
out and be pirates, just don’t rob us,’” Diddles said. “Back then they were called privateers.” Each year, a month before the faire opens, the Mournings get together to build or restore faire structures to exercise their teamwork skills. “This year we built the pirates’ bar,” Diddles said. The Pirates oversee four family attractions: the Bopper Pit, Water Polt, Long Shot and Powder Keg. Each game costs between $1 and $5 per round to play. Diddles and John said most of the pirates were recruited or referred by other pirates. “This is my first year working [as a pirate],” said Erin Hall, a college student in Marshall. He said his first weekend visiting the faire he helped out at a booth, but was looking for other ways to help as well. “I met the pirate crew that evening after hours, and they were really friendly so I spoke with Captain John and he said I could help,” Hall said. To be a part of this pirate crew requires work. “Our crew works as a team and [we work] hard as a whole,” Diddles said.
The Leather Man By Coshandra Dillard
during the Four Winds Renaissance Faire. Dozens of actors and artisans descended on the Troup countryside, just south of Tyler. From the greeter to jousters and performers, all actors are decked in traditional renaissance garb: bustiers, long skirts, kilts and tunics. They spread out over a few acres in makeshift castles, vendor booths and two-story shops. Since 1994, the faire has provided patrons with a sample of renaissance culture, education and the tastes of traditional European foods like shepherd’s pie and traditional alcoholic drinks. Participants, some of whom are heavily involved in the renaissance circuit, come from as far away as Canada, San Francisco and New York. Among their wares for sale are dolls, hand-loomed shawls, paintings and dragon-inspired knick-knacks. The French Renaissance was the theme of this year’s faire. While fleur-de-lis symbols decorated castles, there were also Celtic and Scottish Chantel Martin
himsical enactments and exhibitions of 17th century European culture recently took center stage for eight weeks
50 • The Pine Curtain
influences. King Keith Waddous is Scottish born. Throughout the event, patrons could hear the sounds of Celtic music. “This is historical education,” Waddous said. “It’s just something that people like to do. It’s an art.” While most drama is displayed in sword fighting shows, jousting battles and belly dancing performances, some interesting characters can be discovered inside the many vendors’ booths, selling their custom goods. Among them is Bruce Garner, also known as the leather man. This was his seventh season at the Four Winds Renaissance Faire. Garner, who lives outside of Terrell, usually sells his leather goods each month at Canton Trade Days. His small booth was lined with sheets of leather as well as finished clothing, pouches, shoes, rabbit tails and belts. Garner’s long white hair and coarse grayand-white beard added to his period persona. He wore a tunic trimmed with leather, baggy pants and leather gilly shoes. Garner said he has been making leather for almost 50 years, but didn’t enter the retail business until 15 years ago. He learned about the faire when participants purchased items from him at his Canton booth.
For three years, they consistently asked him to join the show. He said he finally gave in and hasn’t regretted the decision. “I’m happy or I wouldn’t’ have been out here seven years,” he said. “This is not a hobby. This is what I do for a living.” All of Garner’s work is custom made and takes from half an hour to several hours to complete. “Each hole is punched one at a time. Each stitch is put in by the nimble fingers you see before you now,” he said. “Everything I do is primitive style and I make it by hand. I don’t use machines.” Fair actors live modestly on the grounds four days each week for two months. Garner squeezed a cot, hot plate and a reading lamp in a corner of the booth. He doesn’t mind because it isn’t that much different from his daily lifestyle. “Everyone has told me I was born about 150 years too late,” he said. Garner and his wife of nearly 32 years live on 10 acres of land with a few cattle, chickens, and a hound. He chooses not to have a computer and only relented to buy a pay-by-the-minute cell phone five years ago because his wife worried about him while he traveled on sales trips.
“The only thing he’s up-to-date on is the phone,” said Sydney Marquez, Garner’s 16-year-old apprentice at the faire. “If you’re going to call him, it’s eight rings before he gets up.” A native of the Appalachian Mountains, Garner also eats simply and has done so for about 33 years. “We are primitive people from start to finish,” he said. “I hunt and trap. That’s how I fill our freezer. We even butcher our beef at home. I sugar cure hams, bacon—just the way my grandfather did, as close as I can get to it.” Garner has a garden and doesn’t buy much at the store except for paper goods. He also shares his way of life with fellow faire participants. He recently cured and barbequed a wild hog for one of the group’s late night dinners. Garner said he enjoys the time he spends with other vendors and performers. The diverse group is as unique as the stories they tell, but one thing that brings them together is a sense of community. “We’re all one big family,” he said. “We have an eight-week family reunion among the vendors and the cast. It’s just a family affair.”
Bruce Garner outside of his Leather Man station.
May 5, 2011 • 51
A Knight’s Tale
By Audrey Westby
nyone who thinks jousting is a sport reserved for men has never seen Bobbie Patterson on a horse. Patterson jousts under the character name Lady Isabella and was the 2010 tournament champion of the Four Winds Renaissance Faire in Troup. Jousting is a family affair. Her son, Dusty Martel, also known as Sir Roland, was the tournament champion the five previous years. Patterson is proud to call herself the “birth mother of a five-time champion.” Bobbie’s husband, Darren Patterson, is the announcer of the joust. The couple own the Diamond P Equestrian 52 • The Pine Curtain
Center in Longview, Texas, where they breed and sell horses. Martel began jousting in 2003, training by riding up and down the long driveway at their farm with trashcan lids for targets and bamboo sticks for lances. “I was the one who brought my family into it,” Martel said. The joust tournament is comprised of 32 rounds, with four rounds each weekend in March and April while the Four Winds is in operation. Each round begins with the knights lined up on their horses for introductions as the audience members shout “Huzzah!” Darren Patterson said he prays for the knights’ safety before every round. The jousting is a real competition, with no
staging or theatrics. Competition consists of five different games. Each event must be performed at a canter, which is a speed for the horse between a trot and a gallop. Bobbie’s horse is typically the fastest in each event. The first competition is Rings, in which knights on horseback attempt to catch six small silver rings on the tip of a lance. Other events include the quintain, in which knights strike a wooden target with a lance, throwing a spear at a hay bale target and slicing apples with a sword. In the Tilt, knights ride toward each other and attempt to strike each other with lances. They get three chances to garner points and are allowed as many tiebreakers as necessary. The winner of the tournament is whoever accumulates the most points from each round. Houston resident Federico Serna has been jousting since 1999, and his long, brown hair flows behind him when he’s competing. “When his parents named him, he had no other choice but to become a knight,” Darren said
jokingly. “Especially with hair like that.” Serna has competed in jousting tournaments throughout the U.S., Mexico, and Canada. Serna said he focuses on each event individually and seldom keeps up with the score. “I haven’t been the best with keeping up with the numbers,” Serna said, “But I do the best I can.” Serna’s armor for the Tilt weighs around 80 pounds, some of which he made himself. Bobbie said she doesn’t compete in the Tilt partly because armor costs between $3,000 and $5,000. She is also left-handed, and the Tilt must be done right-handed. “Also I’m claustrophobic,” Bobbie said. “I can’t wear a helmet.” While there is no prize money awarded at the Four Winds Renaissance Faire for the joust, the victorious knight wins a trophy and the glory of being a champion. Martel plans to judge the U.S. International Jousting Competition in Estes Park, Colo., in September.
Features May 5, 2011 • 53
A Knight at the Four Winds Renaissance Faire
The knights of the Four Winds Renaissance Faire prepare for a battle of strength, endurance and skill in a five-event jousting competition. Photos and Illustrations by Chantel Martin & Jake Waddingham 54 • The Pine Curtain
From top, clockwise: In his first year of competition, the blue knight Sir William charges into the tilt at full speed, scoring 10 full revolutions. Sir Roland, left, misses Sir Dustin’s shield during the joust. Sir Dustin winds up his first attempt at the target during the spear throw competition. Lady Isabella competes during the rings portion of the jousting tournament.
Features May 5, 2011 • 55
Sir Dustin is congratulated by the court after a strong performance in the apple slicing competition.
Left: Sir William’s squire helps him readjust his armor before his second run of the joust with Sir Roland.
Left: Sir Dustin eyes down his last target during the apple slicing competition. Right: Sir Roland is defeated during the first round of the jousting tournament.
Lady Isabella connects with the tilt. She finished second with six revolutions. 56 • The Pine Curtain
Features May 5, 2011 • 57
short films from Multimedia Production using photographs
Art + Life
Click on link to open videos in a new window.
“Kamryn Rae” Kari Cheatham
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“Darn Dirty Ape” Preston Kilday
Art + Life
“Xander’s Day Off” Natalie Kushner May 5, 2011 • 59
Art + Life
“A Day at the Ballpark” Sarah Portman
“One Day Without Shoes” Sarah Yosten 60 • The Pine Curtain
“Man Pants: Episode 1” Ryan Hazelwood
Art + Life
“T-Rex and Frog Brothers” Rosalinda Edwards May 5, 2011 • 61