There are a host of unexpected sights and endless things to do on every street corner at the Arizona Renaissance Festival.
And in Fairhaven, the site in Gold Canyon where the festival is held every year, there are a lot of street corners.
From rows and rows of pubs, cafes, inns and other eateries serving up a range of good eats to the lines of entertainment booths, stages, stalls and shops that line the streets, there’s no limit on what there is to do, see and eat at the festival.
The festival is well known for the abundance of entertainment it offers, from kookie characters that walk the streets to valiant knights who rile up the crowd at the tournament arena.
But the festival is also a buzzing hive for those who love unusual shopping finds. It’s home to a wealth of vendors who sell artisan and handcrafted goods that you just can’t find in very many other places.
Take for example Pillows and Tapestry Hangings. This quaint little booth that’s located not far from the King’s Arena, where jousting tournaments are held, is run by Linda Démian, who’s been handcrafting her own pillows and tapestries for decades.
Démian refers to herself as a “dreamstress” on her business card and has been selling her unique handcrafted goods at the Renaissance Festival in Arizona for 34 years. However, the festival in Arizona is far from the only Renaissance Festival she attends as a vendor.
Démian initially began her journey as a seamstress by creating clothes but quickly found she didn’t enjoy the fact that she had to make the same piece of clothing over and over in multiple sizes. She also discovered that some street fairs in California that she attended frowned on vendors selling clothes they had created as many of those fairs had their own clothing shops they wanted to drive traffic to instead.
So, she decided to switch gears and began creating handcrafted pillows.
“One day I just made six pillows,” she said. “They were all the same, but they were really, really pretty round ones and they sold in half an hour. And then I never looked back.”
Démian hand-crafts all the pillows and hangings sold at her shop as well as the cording that surrounds her pillows. Some of her designs are based on recreations of paintings done by well-known Renaissance painters like Botticelli.
“There’s so many artistic reproductions from the Medieval times,” said Démian. “But some of my favorite work to do is westerns. (But) I try to not make too much of it because I’m at a Renaissance Festival.”
But Démain said that she also has creative leeway, which allows her to create things like pillows with popular sayings like “It’s Good to be Queen” that she then silk-screens.
Démian sells at other festivals as well, including the Renaissance Festivals in Colorado and Maryland, and she spends the entire year in advance building up her merchandise for her booth. She purchases her fabric from mills in Europe and the U.S. and sews throughout the year. During that time, Démian estimates that she will sew hundreds of tapestries and pillows ahead of the festivals’ start.
However, she will not stuff the pillows she creates until it’s time to refill her stock on the shelves. Her latest shipment of pillow inserts (what stuffs the pillows) is on its way in; her shipment is of 1,000 inserts — which will all be used up at the Arizona Renaissance Festival.
Her booth was also hand-built, as Démain noted that all the vendor booths at the Renaissance Festival have to be put up by the vendors.
But if there’s one thing that Démian wishes more people knew, it’s that she doesn’t work for the festival and that creating her incredible tapestries has been her career.
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