The Tennessee Renaissance Festival, Our Story
A postcard of a castle on the Rhine River found in Germany by his father near the end of the Second World War is all it took for a very young Mike Freeman to dream of one day having a castle where he would live. While the fantasies of living the fairytale life fade into memories for most children, calling a majestic castle his home was more of a goal than a dream for this young man. Never wavering in his can-do attitude, Mike put his vision on paper for a high school drafting class project. From a thought, to drawing the plans, to breaking ground on the first tower; Mike, his wife and a group of ardent supporters, transformed a quiet rural area in Tennessee to a landmark destination known for a big white castle and a renaissance festival hosting over 70,000 people a year.
With attention to detail and passion for doing any task to the best of their abilities, the Freemans started the Tennessee Renaissance Festival (TNRF) over 30 years ago and developed it into an annual event beloved by many. Looking to the future, the Freemans wanted to preserve the land and ensure the festival continued to operate at the same high standards for years to come. Knowing Williamson County Government's reputation for preserving and beautifying natural areas, Mr. Freeman used his keen foresight and contacted the county municipality to propose a partnership that would benefit all.
Over four years, countless meetings, and hours of negotiation later; an agreement between the Freemans and Williamson County Government became official at the start of 2022. The 69 acres that encompassed the festival grounds became the property of Williamson County Government and was re-named Castle Park, in honor of the festival and the nearby castle. In return, the Freemans gifted the Tennessee Renaissance Festival's naming and operating rights to Williamson County Government, and Williamson County Parks and Recreation (WCPR) now runs the festival, with the Freemans serving as consultants and hosting visits to the Castle Gwynn Grounds on festival days.
With only a few months to prepare, planning the 2022 TNRF was a challenging but exciting project for WCPR. Working with the Freemans, our first foray into running a renaissance festival could not have gone better and was a rewarding experience. Feedback from festival attendees was very constructive and extremely helpful in planning for the future.
So, what is different now that WCPR runs the time-honored event? The answer may be more subtle than you think. The goal for WCPR and the Freemans was to keep TNRF in the exact location and present the festival in the same spirit as it has been for decades. Some changes, including grounds maintenance and facility upgrades, you may not even notice. Some changes you may witness are additions to the faire based on your feedback. Your enjoyment of TNRF is our top priority, and your comments go a long way in how we address improvements to the festival going forward.
We're excited to host our 2nd Tennessee Renaissance Festival (37th overall) and have much to share. Each week we'll provide you with a peek inside on what to expect at the 2023 TNRF. Stay tuned!