Organizers have called off the Missouri Renaissance Festival (MORF), originally set for July in Neosho, citing a couple of explanations.

Organizers have called off the Missouri Renaissance Festival (MORF), originally set for July in Neosho, citing a couple of explanations.

“No. 1, we were having trouble getting sponsors and No. 2, the [city] park director had changed and [former park director] Todd Banes had not left any information to the new director [John Jordon] about our festival,” said Pamala Williams, co-owner of MORF. “The new director had no idea about the Missouri Renaissance Festival, had no clue what we wanted.”

In July 2010, Williams and the other co-owner, Kittye Williams, brought the renaissance festival to Morse Park. The festival was a 500-year journey back in time and space, leaving behind the Missouri of 2010 for Drogheda, Ireland, of 1510. A total of 1,000 people attended the first festival. Plans were to have another festival back in 2011, but it too was canceled.

 “In 2011, the owners began to put those hopes and the apparent support of Neosho into action, hoping to build a festival that would outshine the success of the 2010 year,” Kittye Williams in a letter. “Despite all attempts to obtain sponsorships and the support of the city, its businesses, and peoples, the festival was forced to close its gates before they even opened for the year. Influencing the decision was not only the lack of funding, but the obvious disinterest of the community in participating. Multiple free classes were offered to educate all who were interested in performing or volunteering with the festival. The apparent decrease in interest between the 2010 and 2011 years was disheartening and frustrating.”
Organizers then chose to close the festival before opening that year with the hope of making it a bi-yearly event and returning in 2012.

According to Pamala, they are still in the hole between $12,000-$15,000 from the first festival.

“Kittye and I paid for that ourselves and we are still paying for it,” she said. “That is why we have to have sponsors. We can’t try to pay for it on our own anymore.”

Adding to the sponsorship topic, Pamala added, “Even if we were able to get a sponsorship, we would have to find a different spot. And to find a date, it was kind of hard to find just exactly where we were going to have it. We were looking all over. But because of no sponsors coming forward, every time we would have a meeting, there would be the same people, or nobody would show up. When we don’t have volunteers, willing to help you with the festival, we don’t have sponsors willing to help you pay for the festival and basically ruin the site that you had it on and you are trying to find (a new one), that makes it difficult to have a festival.”

But the question remains, “is the renaissance festival ‘dead in the water’ or will it return?”

“It is not ‘dead in the water’ at all,” said Pamala. “We are taking a few years off to try to regroup, try to gain some sponsors and try to again to find a spot. We are just dormant. It could happen in Jasper County, could happen in McDonald County, but we do want to keep it in Southwest Missouri.”

For more information, please call Kittye Williams at 918-244-1886 or Pamala Williams at 918-323-6723.