Sometime around 25 years ago, my parents took me to the Southern California Renaissance Faire for the first time. I watched plays and dancing and juggling, I listened to music, I bought a little pewter dragon, and I was hooked. I continued going once a year throughout elementary school and high school, dressing up as a young wizard and spending perhaps a little too much money on little pewter heroes and monsters.
About 15 years ago, I moved away for college, joined an English country dance group called the Merrie Pryanksters, and realized that instead of just *going* to the Faire once in a while, I could be *part* of it. At some point I discovered the Dickens Christmas Fair as well, and for the past five years I've been playing music there as well.
Two or three years ago, I was dressed up as a 19th century surveyor and playing Gold Rush music in Old Town Sacramento, and some friends invited me to play a Spanish conquistador in a light-hearted California history pageant. My role consisted of striding boldly onto the stage, wearing a sash and a helmet, pointing in various directions with a wooden sword, and saying in an outrageous accent "I am here from Spain, and *that* place is San Francisco, and it belongs to my king, and *that* over there is Monterey, and it belongs to my king also, and *this* here is Sacramento, and it's his too." I like to think I delivered my lines with precisely as much seriousness and respect as the scriptwriter had intended.
After I walked off stage, Kathleen Twombly took my props and said "Were ya nervous, performing in front of Phyllis Patterson herself?"
"Wait, Phyllis Patterson?" I spluttered; "The one who started all this historical reenactment festival stuff in the first place, way back when?? She's still alive??"
"Yeah, that was her in the wheelchair in the front row!"
That was the extent of my interaction with Phyllis Patterson, but I can at least say I performed for her once.
I'm told that Phyllis Patterson passed away this morning. I never really knew her, but I understand that she gave the spark that began the construction of this marvelous scattered playground where I have spent so many happy weekends of my life. So thank you, Phyllis; thank you for the plays, the parades, the pewter figures, the puppets, the jugglers, the tavernside chess matches, the late-night jam sessions at the Three Cripples Pub, and most of all for the community. We'll do our best to keep it going while you're away.