East Idaho Renaissance Faire’s resident magician excited to see event grow
REXBURG – The East Idaho Renaissance Faire opened its 2019 season near Rexburg this past weekend, and a lot has changed. New location. New attractions. New food vendors. New activities.
Yet, in the midst of all this change, there are still some familiar sights and faces you’ll see throughout the Faire, including juggler/magician Ainsley Furgason.
Furgason has been a part of the Faire since the beginning. His act is equal parts illusionism, hand-eye coordination and comedy act. From rope tricks to escaping a straightjacket to juggling fire, Furgason does it all.
He’s been doing all this for a long time, too. Furgason’s journey down the road of the sideshow entertainer began over thirty years ago, as a child growing up in Houston, Texas.
“My father started teaching me magic,” Furgason told EastIdahoNews.com. “That led me to doing theater, when my mother signed me up for theater classes. The choreographer there saw me juggle, so he recommended me for a job at Six Flags: Astro World, which sadly no longer exists.”
Furgason bagged a magic show gig at Six Flags, and from there, found his way into working in the Texas Renaissance Festival. As part of doing this festival, he learned stunt work, pyrotechnics and fight choreography. As time rolled on, Furgason amassed twenty-one years of experience performing on stage.
In early 2017, Furgason moved to Rexburg to attend classes at Brigham Young University-Idaho. His first semester, he crossed paths with Mathew Jensen, the founder of the East Idaho Renaissance Faire. When Jensen mentioned he was thinking about starting a Renaissance festival in the Upper Valley, he asked Furgason if he had any experience with such events.
“At that point, I had about thirteen years in Ren. faires working the Texas circuit,” Furgason said. “And when (Jensen) found that out, he had to have me. So here I am.”
Furgason has had a unique perspective on the East Idaho Renaissance Faire as it’s developed and grown the past three years. He said it has been magical to not only watch the Faire grow, but also to see the way the community has embraced it.
“You have all of these people from the community, most of which you’d never imagine would like Renaissance festivals,” he said. “But everybody loves it and they tell their friends, so more people come out. It’s at least doubled every single year, which is fantastic.”
The growth means more and more people for which Fergason can perform. While he enjoys the freeing feeling and the chance to step away from the real world that performing his act provides, it’s sharing with the audience that he loves the most.
“The reason I perform full-time is that you get to see the wonder and amazement on people’s faces,” said Furgason. “Not just the kids, because kids live in a world of wonder. But their parents, too. I take off the hood at the end after juggling the torches and even the parents are like ‘Whoa!’ For that brief moment, they get to forget their cares, too.”
“It’s kind of vicariously living through them,” he said of the audience. “The more joy I bring them, the more joy I get to feel.”
Furgason also serves as the fight director for the Faire’s Knights Tournament. He helps train the knights participating in sword play for the battle.
“It’s going really well,” he said. “It’s getting better each year. The returning knights are learning more and becoming stronger fighters. Most of these guys don’t have any fight experience in their backgrounds, so getting to teach them this ancient art is almost like a dance. When you study the material and the fight manuscripts of the period, it comes together so beautifully.”
“Plus, it helps keep me in shape,” he adds.
When not teaching noobs how to look credible while wielding swords or juggling flaming torches of doom, Furgason also does private parties and events for kids. Visit his website or his Facebook page for more information.
And if you missed Furgason’s act or any of the other attractions of the East Idaho Renaissance Faire, you can still attend the festival the next two weekends, June 28 and 29, and July 5 and sixth. It’s happening north of Yellowstone Bear World at 5925 South 4300 West in Rexburg. Visit the Faire’s Facebook page or website to learn more.