October means the Carolina Renaissance Festival is coming.
This art and entertainment festival began in 1994 with 6 acres of attractions. Today the park has grown to be one of the largest Renaissance festivals nationwide.
Every year, deep in the woods off Poplar Tent Road, the festival's now 22 acres are transformed into a collection of castles, pubs, comedy shows, music, people-powered rides and many more attractions. More than 300 costumed characters roam the grounds as street entertainers.
It's all intended to capture the feel of a 16th-century European village.
One of those characters is 14-year-old Austin Bruckner.
He not only juggles his responsibilities at Community School of Davidson with his rigorous schedule at the Renaissance Festival every weekend, but he also can juggle many items in the air at once. That's what makes watching him so entertaining.
"I can consistently juggle seven balls, but I can now juggle up to 10 balls on occasion," Austin said.
"I can juggle six clubs and seven rings. I can also spin three Chinese yo-yos at once and juggle four torches."
Austin took an interest in juggling at age 9, when in summer 2005 he attended a Park and Recreation circus camp for a week and learned the basics. He was hooked then and has not stopped juggling since.
"Another one of my passions is making and editing juggling videos for YouTube. I have made a lot of interesting friends all over the world who are also jugglers," Austin said. "We communicate via YouTube. We all show our new skills and inspire each other."
But if you want to see Austin perform his amazing skills live, look for him at the Renaissance Festival. He will be there every weekend Oct. 9 through Nov. 21, juggling and performing magic tricks throughout the village.
"Austin is extremely dedicated to his juggling and tries to get in some practice every day," said his mother, Carol Bruckner. "He enjoys challenging himself to learn even more complex tricks and invent new ones. He is currently focused on learning to do a standing back tuck so he can add that to his act. He never ceases to amaze us and has brought a lot of people joy through his juggling."
The 17th annual season of the Renaissance Festival opens next weekend. It will be open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays Oct. 9-Nov.21. Tickets bought at area Harris Teeter stores are $18 for adults and $7 for kids ages 5-12; they're $1 more when purchased at the gate or online on the festival website, where you'll also find various discount offers.
For more information on the festival or on how to buy tickets, go to www.royalfaires.com/carolina.