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Renaissance fair octagonal mugs.The preopening hours at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie sound like those at any other market. Store vendors gather to sip coffee and chat, celebrate big sales, and remind one another to drink plenty of water. It’s all very normal, until an actual cannon—fired by a man known at the fair as Boomer—sounds to signal the opening of the fair’s wooden gates. The arrival of the patrons activates all other sounds in the fair: the buskers’ lutes and strings, the blacksmith’s hammer, and the flower and popcorn seller’s ever-tinkling bells. We’re in a Tudor village during the reign of Henry VIII, and the workers and performers, clad in their corsets, leather boots, or chain mail, scatter like marbles back to their respective stages and…

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