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Festival to go on without Druids

A pair of craggy old Druids who have appeared at all eight Largo Renaissance Festivals won't be there this year. Nancy Peters, who played the role of the Druid Vulwena, said Renaissance officials told her last week that "frankly, they didn't need us there."

"The committee said that they wanted us to give up the hovel that we built and be village roamers again, which we were eight years ago," Ms. Peters said.

She said she and Druid Sylvina, played by Jo Burton, felt their characters would not be as effective outside of the small cloth and stick hovel.

Reluctantly, Ms. Peters said, "after discussing possible financial arrangements," the Druids bowed out.

Scott Auld, entertainment coordinator for the annual spring festival, sees it a little differently.

Auld said the "Druids simply were not cast this year. It's like a play. This year we have a different cast."

Auld said the Druids were on staff when they built their hovel, which will be used this year by the Society For Creative Anachronism.

The society will be selling medieval crafts in the hovel, Auld said.

He said that only 100-150 of the daily 6,000 festival-goers ever made it to the hovel to see the Druids and so festival promoters felt it could be put to better use.

But Ms. Peters, a Honeywell employee in real life, said the Druids were popular, entertaining "young and old alike with fantasy tales" and "witches' humor."

"We'd like to thank all the friends and peers we have met and worked with over the last eight years," Ms. Peters said.

The Renaissance Festival again will take place behind the Largo Library on Third Street SE. Festival dates are Saturdays and Sundays from March 10 through April 15. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Tickets at the gate are $8.95 for adults, $3.50 for children from 5 to 12. Children under 5 are free.

This year a cast of 200 will perform on five stages all day, Auld said.

This year's festival theme will center around "a visit by King Edward and Queen Catherine to the small village of Puddleton (Largo). The king and queen have heard that the villagers are having a terrific market festival," Auld said.

Roaming the grounds of the 16th-century English village will be jugglers, jousters, troubadours and hags. Villagers and festival-goers will dine on turkey legs and ale.

For the first time this year, there will be a festival parade on opening day from Taylor Park to the festival site. The parade, with marching bands, the Renaissance cast and others, will begin at 9 a.m.

The Renaissance Festival is sponsored by the Greater Largo Chamber of Commerce. This year, Auld expects at least 75,000 people to attend.

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