DRAGONFEST - Hatched in the Ozarks By Matt Carra
Publication: Renaissance Magazine - Vol 22 #5, Issue #118
Dragonfest Renaissance Faire is a startup faire located in the heart of the Ozarks just outside of Springfield, Missouri. Dragonfest was originally started in 2016 to raise funds for tuition assistance programs at Infinity Academy, a school started to serve the educational needs of middle and high school-aged students who need an alternative to traditional schooling such as those with developmental learning disabilities like autism. Over 60% of the school population rely on these tuition assistance funds to be able to attend the school.
The first Dragonfest was more like a school carnival and was held on October 22, 2016 in the parking lot next to the school. We had 8 vendors, 6 kids games, several entertainment groups, and saw just over 300 guests. DRF-2016 was a small but fun first year. The quick interest and support we saw from the community was the driving factor in our decision to turn Dragonfest into an inclusive, affordable family-friendly event open to the entire community, Dragonfest Renaissance Faire was born.
Dragonfest Renaissance Faire 2017 was the year of growth. With a little over a year to plan, the possibilities for our 2017 faire were much greater. With the expected growth we moved to our current location at the Springfield Riding Club Facility just 10 miles southeast of Springfield, Missouri. The move to this new facility brought great excitement and allowed us to add jousting to our event, increase the number of vendors, add more to the Kids Kingdom (kids area), increased space for parking and the addition of an indoor entertainment space. With the increase in marketing, made possible by local sponsors, we expected to see an increase in attendance, but no one expected to grow to 16 vendors, 6 kids activities, 2 multi age rides, full contact jousting by Knights of Valour, and just over 1,200 guests in attendance.
Dragonfest Renaissance Faire 2018 will be held again at the Springfield Riding Club Facility on October 20, 2018 from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm. We continue to grow as we quickly approach our third year. This year we be bringing back Knights of Valour Jousting, expanding our Kids Kingdom again, over 30 vendors, have 4 fun rides, and a projected attendance of over 3,000 guests. Admission to the 2018 Dragonfest Renaissance Faire is $10 for ages 18 and up, $5 for ages 11 to 17, and Free for ages 10 and under. Discounted admission tickets are available online at www.Dragonfest.net through October 18th.
The staff of Dragonfest and Infinity Academy believe in and honor the unique contributions of all individuals to our global culture. Each student who attends Infinity Academy has the opportunity to explore, grow and learn according to their own goals, strengths and interests. We believe that to be successful adults, our students need to understand their needs and acquire the skills to appropriately advocate for them. We want our students to have a safe, calm atmosphere to focus on academics and to develop positive relationships.
Every dollar you spend as a sponsor, vendor, performer or guest of the kingdom goes directly to meeting the needs of the students at Infinity Academy. They have a top-notch staff; a warm and supportive learning environment; a rigorous, self-paced curriculum; and a student body ready to embrace the infinite possibilities that await them. We hope you will join us in making a difference in the lives of these students.
*Content edited from originally published article to make corrections.
Lords & Ladies venture out to
Dragonfest Renaissance Faire By Sarah Bicknell
Publication: The Marshfield Mail - October 20, 2018
While Fordland's Wild West Days focused on the Old West, another event on Saturday took participants even farther back in time to the Renaissance period.
The Dragonfest Renaissance Faire, which was held at the Springfield Riding Club in Rogersville, featured food, demonstrations, vendors and entertainment from the Raven Wing Gypsies, a group of traveling nomadic tribesmen and women who perform songs and dances. There were also blacksmiths, chainmail armorists and an area for sparring. The Knights of Valour, led by Shane Adams, a Canadian Equestrian Team athlete in modern competitive jousting, provided exhibitions of horsemanship with mounted games competition and a heavy armor jousting tournament.
"I reached out to a group that was local, but since they weren’t doing jousting anymore, they directed me to The Knights of Valour and Shane Adams," said Matt Cara, CDE, director of development for Infinity Academy. "Shane was excited and loved the vision we had at Infinity Academy, so he was all for helping us out with the jousting tournament."
In keeping with the theme, attendees were encouraged to dress up in their Renaissance attire. Nathaniel Moore came to the event wearing medieval body armor. His fascination with armor inspired him to find retailers around the area who could get the armor to fit him and he collected pieces over the years to make his own suit. While a newcomer to Dragonfest, Moore has attended similar events in Saint Louis and Kansas City.
"I found out about Dragonfest a week before from my friend, Austin," said Moore. "He went with us to the Renaissance Festival in
Kansas City and heard about this event from another guy. I thought it would be something fun to do, so I decided to come."
Another participant was Kathleen Powell of Seymour, who entertained the guests with her violin playing. She has been playing
for four years.
"I was excited to be a part of this event," said Powell. "This is something fun I wanted to do."
Dragonfest was started in 2016 to raise funds for tuition assistance programs at Infinity Academy, a school for kids with developmental learning disabilities like autism. Around 60 percent of the students at the school rely on this tuition assistance to attend the school.
"It started out as a small school fundraiser in the parking lot, next to the school," said Brenda Bradshaw, executive director of Infinity Academy in Springfield. "In three years, it has grown, thanks to Matt Cara, who is the coordinator of the event."
When Dragonfest first started, there were only 300 people, six vendors and two musicians, according to Cara, director of development for Infinity Academy. The following year, the jousting tournament was added, along with 16 vendors, which took place at the Springfield Riding Club. It brought a total of 1,200 people. This year’s event had almost 4,000 people in attendance, said Cara, who added that they raised $12,000 from the festival.
"Our numbers increased this year and we had close to 30 vendors there," said Cara. "We also got voted the second largest Renaissance Festival in Missouri by Renaissance Magazine International. We weren't expecting it and were very honored to be recognized in that way."
He added that they are currently looking for property or land to use for Dragonfest since the event is growing every year. Next year's Dragonfest will take place at the Springfield Riding Club, but a date has not been set yet.
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