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Jousting, jewelery and turkey legs: RHA to out on their first Renaissance Festival

Courtesy Residence Hall Association
The UA Residence Hall Association will host their first ever renaissance Festival on the UA Mall on Saturday March 23. At the festival will be free food, crafts and demonstrations.

The first Renaissance Festival hosted by the Residence Hall Association is coming to the University of Arizona Mall on Saturday, March 23, from 3-6 p.m.

The festival will have performances, activity booths and snacks, with free admission. All UA students who want to enjoy the afternoon exploring the Renaissance era are invited, according to Kari Thomas, director of programming for RHA and a neuroscience and cognitive science student.

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Some student clubs and groups, such as Arizona Swing Cats, will give performances at the festival. Other student groups, like the Archery Club, will have booths, according to Highland District programmer Rose De Los Santos. 

“They were really excited to … get their club out, so they were really eager to help us with our booth,” De Los Santos said.

Thomas said the program coordinators are “trying to cooperate as many student clubs as possible” to have many different performances and activities.

Other attractions and offerings at the festival will include caricatures, henna, face-painting, paper-making, art history club, jousting, torch-blowing demonstrations, flower crown-making and jewelry-making.

Food will also be available at the festival, including Italian cream soda, fruit and jerky. 

One of the most unique things will be the turkey legs, according to Thomas. They have prepared 20 pounds of them. The first 180 visitors will get free turkey legs.

“Turkey legs are harder to find than I expected,” Thomas said with laugh. 

While she worked hard to search for barbecue restaurants in Tucson, she said she could not find any place to purchase turkey legs. She finally reached out to the UA Student Union, which helped out in not only finding a vendor but also cooking turkey legs.

“After 180 turkey legs … there won’t be any more available, just because they are kind of expensive,” she said. “We’re still in talks with the Union about possibly allowing students after that 180 to purchase them, but we are not sure yet.” 

The operational cost for the festival is about $5,000. 

The Renaissance Festival is one of the events that RHA hosts throughout the year to help students living on campus build communities and to provide them education and alternative environments, Thomas said. They have hosted variety of events like the block party and rave.

Thomas came up with the idea to have the Renaissance Festival from her childhood memories. Her family has celebrated her youngest brother’s birthday every year at the Arizona Renaissance Festival in Phoenix, and she said she has always enjoyed going to the festival.

“As a director of programming this year, I wanted to bring kind of a version of it to students at the University of Arizona, because it’s been a really cool event [with] a lot of very unique and amazing experiences,” she said. “I wanted to bring it to campus because it’s kind of far away and not super accessible and also very expensive, so I wanted to provide a free and more accessible version for students to come to.”

Her team members welcomed her idea, citing similar experiences or thoughts about the Renaissance Festival.

“[The idea] was exciting. The last one I went to was I was eight or nine,” said Ramsey Martz, one of the Park District programmers. “It’s looking pretty cool. I don’t think we have ever had a Renaissance-themed event.”

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Victoria Howard, another Park District programmer, also loved the idea.

“I thought it was a great idea, making it more accessible to students,” Howard said. “We need to highlight a community that’s not as expressed in U of A campus.”

Thomas said in the end, it all comes back to the students. 

“We are really excited to introduce this new event,” Thomas said. “We are hoping to see a lot of students come and expose themselves to something new, something different, and learn about kind of what Renaissance period is and also enjoy kind of fun culture and food from that time period.”

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