Houston News : Texas Renaissance Festival announces pandemic policies, tickets go live this weekend

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Spectators and performers are shown at the Texas Renaissance Festival Saturday, October 12, 2019, in Todd Mission.

Spectators and performers are shown at the Texas Renaissance Festival Saturday, October 12, 2019, in Todd Mission.

Photo: Melissa Phillip, Houston Chronicle

Photo: Melissa Phillip, Houston Chronicle

Spectators and performers are shown at the Texas Renaissance Festival Saturday, October 12, 2019, in Todd Mission.

Spectators and performers are shown at the Texas Renaissance Festival Saturday, October 12, 2019, in Todd Mission.

Photo: Melissa Phillip, Houston Chronicle

Texas Renaissance Festival announces pandemic policies, tickets go live this weekend

The 46th annual Texas Renaissance Festival will go on as scheduled this year, but things will look a little different due to the pandemic.

Beginning Saturday, Aug. 1, tickets will be available for the 2020 festival, which starts Oct. 3 and runs through Nov. 29. Tickets will be date-specific, sold in advance online only and will not be available at the gate, according to the festival website. Tickets may also be purchased at participating H-E-B stores beginning Sept. 1.

The most visible change at the nine-week-long festival is that all staff, performers and vendors will be required to wear a face-covering and receive daily temperature checks before each shift, according to a press release.

If a statewide mask order is in place at the time of the festival, patrons will also be required to wear face masks. If no state order is in place, patrons will not be required but “strongly encouraged to do so.” In line with the festival’s long-standing tradition of themed weekends and creative costumes, a face mask contest will be held every day in search of the attendee with the most creatively decorated mask.

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Texas counties with more than 20 coronavirus cases are currently under a statewide mask order. Grimes County, where the festival is held, has 828 confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the latest available data from the Texas Department of State Health Services. The Houston region is still considered a COVID-19 hotspot and is currently at 98,565 cases total. Texas saw the second-highest day for newly reported deaths on Wednesday, per a Houston Chronicle analysis of state data.

Festival representatives said the festival management team is working closely with Grimes County and local health authorities “to ensure COVID-19 response and communications plans are in place that will be followed.” Opening plans may change as more information becomes available and as state and local health orders develop.

“Rest assured that our top priority is the health and safety of our guests, staff, and partners,” Texas Renaissance Festival General Manager Joe Bailey said in a statement on the festival’s website. ” This year we are closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation and are preparing to implement any additional preventative measures and safety protocols recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help reduce the spread of the virus to our patrons, cast, vendors, and performers alike.”

Cleaning protocols will be increased in line with state health protocols and include daily and nightly decontamination, nightly cleaning of shops, spot cleaning and sanitizing throughout the day. More than 100 hand sanitizer stations will be spread throughout the festival and campgrounds.

Guests can also expect to see signage encouraging social distancing, hand sanitizing and face masks. Guests will be limited in shops and in seating at entertainment stages.

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Set on a 55-acre, 16th-century European-inspired village the festival is the largest of its kind in the nation and is located about an hour north of Houston in Todd Mission. The festival will be open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and Thanksgiving Friday during October and November. Themed weekends for this year include Oktoberfest, 1001 Dreams, Roman Bacchanal, Pirate Adventure, All Hallows Eve, Heroes and Villains, Barbarian Invasion, Highland Fling and Celtic Christmas.

Tickets start at $30 for adults and $15 for children ages 5-12 and no weekend passes will be offered this year, according to Texas Renaissance Festival Marketing Manager Marlena Solomon. Tickets are a little cheaper on opening weekend and run $24 for adults and $12 for children. Kids ages 12 and under receive free admission on Sundays.

Solomon said the festival’s 200-acre campground typically never meets 50 percent capacity during a normal season, so capacity limitations will not be issued for this season. She added that in anticipation of capacity limitations that could be issued closer to October, the festival grounds will be limited to 22,500 guests per day.

If the festival is cancelled, ticket holders can roll over their tickets to the 2021 season or receive a refund, per the festival website.

Texas Renaissance Festival is located at 21778 Farm to Market 1774, Todd Mission, Texas.

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Houston Forum

Source : chron.com