With the 46th Doña Ana Arts Council Renaissance ArtsFaire coming this weekend, who better to explain the intricacies of life in the royal court than our very own Queen Cherie du la Décolletage, who has reigned at the faire for over two decades? We sat down to talk to Her Highness to learn more about what visitors to the faire on November 4 and 5 at Young Park may expect, especially when it comes to royalty.
In order to prepare herself for her royal duties before she became Queen Cherie, Sherry White spent many years in high school classrooms teaching history, often appearing in costume even then. She admits that students would ask if she wasn’t feeling well when she appeared at school in regular attire.
Now, as queen of all the realm, she is fortunate to have the services of Lady Ellen Bell, who creates the gowns for her majesty. Queen Cherie says, “Lady Ellen develops the patterns for the gowns and spends many laborious hours in sewing by hand so that each gown outshines its predecessor.” While the queens of the Renaissance had hundreds of gowns, Queen Cherie admits that with her more limited duties, she doesn’t need nearly that many. However, she is looking forward to showing off a new gown this year freshly created by Lady Ellen.
Of course, getting dressed when one is royalty is not as simple as it is for mere peasants. There are layers and layers of undergarments, and then the dress and outer items such as belts and bags, which can make the entire outfit weigh 40 pounds or more. Who said being the queen was easy?
Add to that the knowledge of the Medieval period that is required of her. She says, “Delving into the many facets of life in another age such as dress, court customs, dance, cooking, manners, deportment in the castle, archery, battle tactics, herbalism, and grammar of the period is both exciting and necessary in developing a knowledgeable character.” So, go ahead, ask Queen Cherie what it was like to live during the Renaissance period. She’ll be happy to tell you.
When you visit RenFaire, you can visit the royal court where Queen Cherie presides to welcome her guests, greet the talented artisans, present awards, lead the procession, and entertain the populace. (Don’t forget to bow when you see her.) There is much activity afoot at the court, as she explains, “Dancing has always been an intricate part of both life in the royal courts of Europe and in the village life of the peasants living around the castle. You may see the Dance of the Burgermeisters or a Gavotte. This year the dances will be presented by the Society for Creative Anachronism. The SCA is part of the Queen’s Court and you will see activities ranging from bardic performances to armored combat. The encampment has everything from hand-made gypsy wagons to Viking abodes.”
Attending RenFaire is an opportunity to transport you back to a time centuries ago. Queen Cherie advises, “The Renaissance Faire is a wonderful way to educate both young and the not so young to marvels of ages past. Prepare to step into a world of chivalry, art, music, armor preparation, Medieval combat, weapon demonstrations, and celestial harp music with Lady Christina. There will also be a fashion show, ‘Rome to the Renaissance,’” that will take place in the Queen’s Court on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
She adds, “This is the only Renaissance faire in southern New Mexico and for over 40 years guest have been enjoying activities to please young and old alike. Children can enjoy the petting zoo and games of all kinds. There is incomparable jousting on the field of honor and to quench your thirst we have the tavern, serving beer and wine. Victuals (food) are here in abundance for your epicurean delight. You may see the royal greyhounds in their encampment or perhaps the falconry show.”
Make your day at the faire stress-free by purchasing tickets in advance and by taking advantage of the free park and ride. “The Royal Carriage” will run between the southwest corner of the Mesilla Valley Mall and the faire starting an hour before, and ending an hour after the Faire each day. There is limited parking onsite at the park.
Cost for the event is $10 per person and children 12 and under are free. Advance tickets are two for $15 and available on- line or at all Pic Quik locations through November 3.
Make the weekend even more special by purchasing a VIP package: $60 includes all-access passes for two people, access to the VIP area at the Dragon’s Eye Tavern with refreshments and up-front views of the main stage, a special area to watch jousting, and preferred parking for one vehicle. A VIP pass for one person is $35.
Tickets and more information may be found by visiting the Doña Ana Arts Council office at 1740 Calle de Mercado, Suite B-D, in Mesilla, online at www.daarts.org or by calling (575) 523-6403.
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