WAXAHACHIE — An electrical malfunction is ruled to have caused the fire that destroyed at least one large artisan booth and damaged several others at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival Tuesday afternoon.
“The fire departments were very instrumental in getting this fire out and getting in out in a hurry,” Ellis County Fire Marshal Tim Birdwell said. “So once they got the fire out and the smoke cleared we went in and did our investigation. The cause was electrical.”
Birdwell said there was light to moderate damage to three other booths in addition to the primary booths — Pendragon Costumes and Broom Sticks — that were affected on the north end of the fairgrounds. Damages from what the fire marshal’s office has ruled as an accidental fire, are estimated at $25,000.
Birdwell said the fire destroyed two booths, although Scarborough Renaissance Festival General Manager Coy Sevier said one of the booths is repairable.
Birdwell credited firefighters with Emergency Services District No. 6 for putting a quick response to the fire, which helped to limit the damage. He added that the efforts made by several people on the site who used hand extinguishers helped as well.
Birdwell said the fire marshal’s office is about to begin its process of the annual fire inspections on the property. While inspectors are going to be looking at everything, an emphasis will be made to look a wiring because the building sits idle 10 months out of the year. He added the inspection is something that the fire marshal’s office regularly does every year and is not because of the fire.
Sevier said the rebuilding process at the festival is already underway and moving forward.
“The crafter whose building was destroyed, Pendragon Costumes, they already had their insurance people out and there is a construction company out here now. We have been taking parts of the building and using our heavy equipment and putting it into dumpsters that we ordered and put on the site,” Sevier said. “They plan on their construction crew to come in and start working this weekend on building a structure that they can use for this show. It won’t be as magnificent as the one they lost. They will come in and build one so the Pendragon shop can open. Fortunately, their stock was not in that booth yet. So they still have all of their wonderful costumes and everything they will bring down.”
Sevier said the damage to the Broom Sticks both looks like it can be repaired without becoming a major construction project and that the owner of the booth coming down to look at it. He also thanked the community for the support that they have shown during this time.
“The community has really pulled together. I want to say again at the bottom of our hearts that the ESD 6, ESD 1, Maypearl, Forreston, Avalon and all of our volunteer fire departments here in Ellis County did an outstanding job. Not only on the response but how they handled the situation. The Ellis County Fire Marshal was here on the site and made the determination as soon it was safe enough to get to the building,” Sevier said. “The community is rallying around so much. The convention and visitors bureau contacted us to see if they could do anything. The chamber has reached out to see if there is anything they can do help those crafters and help support them. They are there for them. It is the outpouring of Waxahachie for their artisans, and the stuff they do has been absolutely overwhelming. I am so proud. I have talked to everyone for 20 years about how great of a town this is and its great people. The Pendragon Costume booth is actually owned by a group of people out of California, and they are just blown away.”
According to a press release from Scarborough Renaissance Festival, Nicole Fullerton and Shawn Carnes own the Pendragon Costume Shoppe. Pendragon Costumes has been a part of Scarborough Renaissance Festival for 23 years and will work with the owners and their local artisan and longtime shop manager, MaritaBeth Caruthers, to enable them to open their shop in a temporary structure for the upcoming 2017 festival season.
In a statement released through Pendragon Costumes’ Facebook Page Fullerton said she was working on stock for three upcoming shows when she was notified through social media about the fire. Fullerton said she is going to need the help from the community to rebuild.
“I started Pendragon Costumes 27 years ago on a generous loan from my parents of $1,000 and it has grown into a company I can barely fathom sometimes. The people that work for me are truly my family and Marita Beth, although most call her sister, is something closer than a sister to me. I’m not even sure what that would be, a piece of my soul perhaps? She has been on this roller coaster ride with me from practically the beginning. And I hadn’t realized until just this moment how much Scarborough Faire was the foundation of that relationship,” Fullerton wrote. “People are commenting on this and other pages that booths can be rebuilt, but the personal items that were lost are irreplaceable. While that is absolutely true. It costs money to rebuild booths. A lot of money. Money I simply don’t have. Anyone that follows my Facebook page will know how hard it has been for us this last year. We have run more sales, promotions, and fundraisers than I care to think about. Everyone here has been so generous, it almost makes me embarrassed to ask again, but I need your help. If we return to Scarborough, we are going to need a booth. If that is going to be built, it needs to be paid for. Things are still so much up in the air I don’t know what the future is. Of course, the desire is to come back strong. The product I have here already made is beautiful and full of one of a kind piece and fabulous fabrics. I had been gearing up for an amazing season. I feel like someone reached in and tore out my heart.”
A YouCaring page has been set up to help Pendragon Costumes with the costs associated with the loss of their building. People who are interested in making a donation can go to www.youcaring.com/maritabethcaruthers-776315. As of Noon Thursday $16,918 had been raised by 280 donors.
The fire is not going to hamper the opening of the festival. The 37th annual renaissance festival runs from 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays April 8 – May 29 and Memorial Day May 30. It features 27 stages of entertainment and 200 artisans.
For more information about the festival go the website at www.SRFestival.com or contact festival staff at 972-938-3247.
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