Dust clouds form from the hooves of two warhorses thundering across the jousting field. Across the way, a falcon wheels in the sky, spotting prey for his master. Meanwhile, King Henry watches from a tall stone tower, pleased with the bustling marketplace below. It isn’t the year 1539, and it isn’t planet Camelot IV in the Avalonian system. It’s the modern-day Oklahoma Renaissance Festival, held at the Castle of Muskogee every summer for nearly 20 years.
Every merchant and performer has a story to tell, from Sir Robert Vinterhawk of Birds of Prey to the painter Lady Anne, who creates lush portraits of the castle’s guests. The Tribal Circus performs gravity-defying feats without the aid of strings or wizardry, and the mysterious masked man of Cast in Bronze enraptures his audience with the sanctified tones of carillon bells. For adrenaline-pumping thrills, the human chess game —where life-size pieces engage in full battle—is second only to the raucous jousting tourney. Guests can further immerse themselves in a lost era with a spin around the maypole or by dressing up for the daily costume contest.
With just a click of the mouse or a tap of the smartphone, owners can check in via webcam as their dogs gambol about the 6,000-square-foot facility at Camp Bow Wow. What they'll see should please them. Certified camp counselors supervise both the indoor and outdoor play areas, where dogs play fetch in the yard and Marco Polo in the pool. After gobbling down treats, overnight guests slumber in private cabins as soothing music plays. To further pamper their canine friends, owners schedule grooming appointments for nail trims or baths.
Mamadou’s Restaurant satisfies visitors with a robust menu specializing in steak and seafood and boasting a healthy selection of soups, salads, and burgers. Diners can inaugurate the foodie festivities with an order of six crab-stuffed mushrooms topped with melted provolone cheese ($6.99) or opt for fried pickles or fried green beans ($6.99 each) to combine the nutrition of vegetables with the fashionableness of a breading jacket. Burgers and sandwiches such as the half-pound cheeseburger ($5.99), the catfish fillet ($6.99), and the classic turkey-club sandwich ($6.59) all come with seasoned fries, enabling eaters to pretend as though silverware has yet to be discovered. Satiate a desire for turf with an 8-ounce slow-roasted prime rib ($14.99, served Wednesday to Sunday) or for surf with a blackened spicy Cajun catfish ($10.99), or combine seafood and landfood with the steak and shrimp, an 8-ounce sirloin with five grilled shrimp reclining on a soft bed of rice ($21.99). All dinners come with a caesar salad or all-you-can-eat salad bar, a choice of starch, a dinner roll, and the vegetable of the day.
At Four Paws Spa, groomer Laura hides nothing, preferring to wash, trim, and pamper pups where everyone can see them. She beautifies every canine that walks through the door and ensures all clients leave the business free of excess hair, fleas, and bad attitudes. The spa's services run the gamut and include shedding treatments, nail trimming, anal-gland expression, and fur coloring for all breeds and sizes.
The staff at Doggone-It Daycare wants customers' dogs to run wild—in a cage-free, climate-controlled environment, that is. Two indoor playgrounds host socialization sessions where pets play with one another, chew on toys, leap over obstacles, or concoct sure-fire plans to finally catch their own tail. Staff members walk each dog at least four times a day during daycare stays, and tuck them into comfortable beds during overnight visits.