TODD MISSION, Texas - The Texas Renaissance Festival will have its final day of the 2017 season on Sunday.
More than 44,000 visitors attended the festival on Saturday, breaking the record for attendance on a closing weekend day.
Workers at the festival who were affected by Hurricane Harvey flooding say this year’s season helped save them.
“This has been a life saver,” said artisan festival potter Rosemary Hesterly. “If it wasn’t for this, I think I would’ve gone crazy.”
Hesterly and her husband Gary have been vendors at the festival for years but this year was different.
Harvey hit just before the season was set to begin.
The Hesterlys home in Bear Creek was flooded by more than five feet of water. They lost everything they owned.
“It’s not just enough to say that we were wiped out,” said Gary Hesterly. “I mean we were wiped completely out, everything.”
The couple relied on friends in the immediate days and weeks after the flood.
They were able to set up their shop at the festival which became a reprieve from the sadness they were dealing with back in Houston during the work week.
“At any one time whether we’re doing a demonstration or handling over there, we can have a conversation that has nothing to do with the flood,” Gary Hesterly said.
Rosella Gonzales has been the queen at the Texas Renaissance Festival for the past 17 years. Her west Houston home flooded as well.
Since the 1970s, the festival has provided visitors the opportunity to escape everyday life and be transported to an enchanted kingdom located in the middle of a forest.
An escape from reality has never been needed more than this year, by visitors and workers alike.
Although Harvey flooding may not have had as much of an impact on the number of visitors, vendors say it has impacted their sales.
They say they believe visitors may have had tighter budgets due to Harvey-related expenses this season.