By LeAnn R. Ralph
GLENWOOD CITY — In spite of the July heat, the fourth annual “Ren in the Glen” was a success, said David Bartz, president of the Glen Hills Lions Club.
Julian Bender, treasurer of the Glen Hills Lions Club, said the event drew 1,220 paying adults this year, but that the number did not include children 12 years old and younger who get into Ren in the Glen for free.
Ren in the Glen is described as a “Medieval Fantasy Faire.”
The event tends to draw a smaller crowd on Sunday, Bartz noted.
Ren in the Glen is a family event, and is promoted as a family-type of event both on the prices and the activities, Bender said.
“We are family oriented. It does not cost an arm and a leg to bring the family,” Bartz said.
“It’s for all ages, for anyone,” Stack said.
The Glen Hills Lions Club is a major sponsor of the event.
Bartz said that the vendors he had talked to were quite pleased and considered it to be a successful weekend.
“We keep on building (Ren in the Glen) and keep on trying to make improvements,” Bartz said.
About 20 of the Glen Hills Lions Club members work toward getting ready for the event and work at the event.
“It’s many hours spent by the club members (getting ready),” Stack said, noting his appreciation to Cory Schroeder for his work as well.
Schroeder is the land owner, and he worked for several years before the first Ren in the Glen clearing the land, Stack said.
“It’s a beautiful location out there,” he said.
Ren in the Glen is a cooperative venture between the Glen Hills Lions Club and Cory Schroeder and his crew, Bender said.
“Between the two groups, we got the job done,” he said.
Stack said he wanted everyone who worked toward putting on Ren in the Glen to know their efforts were appreciated — not to mention those who participated as vendors and entertainers and those who attended the event.
He also expressed his appreciation for people who are not members of the Glen Hills Lions Club but who are friends of Schroeder’s who worked to get ready for Ren in the Glen and who worked at the event.
“They step up and help because they love it too,” Stack said.
Weeks in advance
Glen Hills Lions Club members spend between a couple of weeks and a month getting ready for Ren in the Glen, working on the event grounds for several hours every evening.
This year, the Lions Club members built a new front gate for the venue and a new bar area with a new tavern.
“People really liked that,” Bartz said.
The new tavern, called The Lazy Oak, features beverages produced by the Sand Creek Brewing Company, Stack said.
“They served many of their fine beverages,” he said.
Now located in Black River Falls, Sand Creek Brewing started out originally in the Glenwood City area.
Working for several hours every night for a month is a tremendous amount of work, but it’s enjoyable, too, Bartz said.
“It’s fun, and it’s camaraderie — and the beer is cold!” Bartz said.
“We’re very happy with the way it is going,” he said.
Following a meal served Saturday evening, Lions Club members usually enjoy sitting around a campfire.
Not this year, though.
“It was so hot on Saturday. We were all drained by Saturday night,” Bartz said, noting that in spite of the heat, there was only one incident of someone being overcome by the heat.
Bender agreed and said the humidity on Saturday afternoon, combined with the heat, “was brutal.”
Sunday was better, though, because the day was overcast and not quite as hot, he said.
The Glen Hills Lions Club became a sponsor for the event in 2013.
“They could not do a beer tent without us,” Bartz said.
State law requires that an established non-profit organization or a club be the applicant for a temporary Class “B”/ “Class B” picnic license.
The Glen Hills Lions Club also provides liability insurance for the event.
After the first Ren in the Glen in 2012, Schroeder, one of the event’s original organizers, approached the Glen Hills Lions Club for help in putting on Ren in the Glen, Bartz said.
“It’s a fun venue. We said we were willing to be supportive of the event … we’ve been happy with sponsoring the event,” Bartz said.
“First-timers are amazed. They say they can’t believe this is right here … they are amazed that there is something like this right here in Glenwood City,” Stack said.
And of course, those who attend Ren in the Glen are encouraged to invite their friends and family next year, he added.
And while those who attend Ren in Glen are certainly welcome to wear costumes, they most definitely are not required to wear costumes, Stack said.
For those who do come in costume, “it’s sort of like you become part of the show. It adds to it,” he said.
The entertainment at Ren in the Glen is varied and “lots of fun,” Stack said.
Musicians, a blacksmith, archers, knights, belly dancers, a fire circus — “it’s a very talented and dedicated group of people,” he said.
Vendors at Ren in the Glen were from Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Michigan.
Some of the actors at the event were from the Midwest Renaissance Actors Guild out of Chippewa Falls and some from Minnesota, local actors and musicians from Bloomer, and some from Duluth.
“They say it is one of their favorites. We’re growing bigger and bigger,” Stack said.
“It’s non-stop entertainment and great food … it’s lots of fun, and we hope more people can enjoy it,” he said.
Bartz said that when he talks to people attending the event, “they say they are really impressed with the beauty of the area that we take for granted.”
All together, the Glen Hills Lions Club has about 24 members.
Some of the older members are no longer able to do the hard work of preparing for Ren in the Glen, Bartz and Stack said.
But even at that, a crew of 20 people working night after night is impressive.
“We try to involve everybody in one way or another,” Bartz said.
“We are blessed with people who can take on tasks and go and get them done … everyone has certain talents, and I’m a good delegator,” he said.
“It’s a good group, an excellent club. We have a bunch of hard workers,” Stack said, describing the Glen Hills Lions Club as “a close-knit group of people.”
Both men and women are welcome to join the Lions, he said.
“We have Lions and Lionesses,” Stack noted.
Ren in the Glen is one of the major fund-raising events for the Glen Hills Lions Club.
The Glen Hills Lions Club supports the events of the Lions Club International and also supports a variety of local events, Bartz said.
For example, sometimes when class field trips are organized, a student will not be able to afford to go, and then the Glen Hills Lions Club provides financial assistance, he said.
The Glen Hills Lions Club also gives out scholarships for high school students and provides Christmas baskets to people who cannot get out of their homes.
“We’re always willing to help if we have the finances to help,” Bartz said.
The Glen Hills Lions Club also sponsors and runs a softball tournament, a pancake breakfast, and a chicken dinner at the community center prior to the parade during Glenwood City’s annual Rustic Lore Days, Bartz and Stack pointed out.
“We do a lot of behind the scenes,” Stack said.
The Glen Hills Lions Club works with the American Legion to put together fruit baskets at Christmas for the elderly or those who cannot get out, he said.
“We go door to door,” Stack said.
The Glen Hills Lions Club’s goal is to have zero dollars in its bank account at the end of the year, Stack said.
“All of the money we bring in — we want to spend it. We are there to help,” he said.
The Glen Hills Lions Club also sends campers to the Wisconsin Lions Club Camp near Rosholt.
According to the Wisconsin Lions Club Camp website: “This quality camping experience is provided free-of-charge to eligible youth and adults with disabilities from Wisconsin. We serve youth and adults who are blind or visually impaired, deaf or hard of hearing, youth who function socially or educationally as having a mild cognitive disability and youth with diabetes. A chance remark, ‘Blind kids can’t go to outdoor camps and stuff like that…’ started it all in 1955 and in 1956.”
The Glen Hills Lions Club always welcomes new members.
“We are growing,” Bartz said.
“We encourage new members, and then people can be part of the fun that way too,” Stack said.
“I’m proud to be part of it,” he said.
New, younger members have joined the group recently, and they have asked their friends to join, Bartz said.
“The more active we are, the more members we get,” Bartz said.
Veteran members who are unable to physically do the work of getting ready for Ren in the Glen are supportive of the effort and supportive of the club, Stack said.
Their support and their years of experience are extremely valuable to the Glen Hills Lions Club, he said.
All three men noted, too, that when Ren in the Glen wraps up for the year, there is still work to be done.
The structures need to be winterized, and there is some clean-up as well, they said.
Most of the attendance this year were people from Minnesota, Bender noted.
The Glen Hills Lions Club made a concerted effort to raise awareness of the event in the local area, he said.
A flyer was sent out to every mailbox in the Downing and Glenwood City areas along with one mail route in Hudson, Bender said.
All together, 2,450 mailers were sent out, he said.
The flyer included a promotional offer from the Glen Hills Lions Club that if recipients brought the flyer with them, they would receive $1 off any sandwich.
A total of 12 people brought the flyer with them, Bender said, adding that the Glen Hills Lions Club would continue working on finding ways to raise local awareness about Ren in the Glen.
The “favored” way of advertising for those who are aware of the event seems to be through the Internet and Facebook, Bender said.
This year, the Glen Hills Lions Club and Ren in the Glen were featured in an interview on WEAU Channel 13 out of Eau Claire. The interview was at noon, and the interview was again shown at 6 p.m.
“That was a first for us,” Bender said.
People also had the opportunity to buy their tickets for Ren in the Glen online at the event’s website and receive a discount for purchasing the tickets in advance, he said.
About 150 tickets were sold online, Bender noted.
“We’re hoping to be bigger and better next year. We are happy with the way things are going,” Stack said.
The venue has room for expansion, he noted.
For next year, Stack said he is hoping that local talent will consider performing at Ren in the Glen.
“Grab your guitar and be an act and perform,” he said, adding that the Glen Hills Lions Club would like to encourage all local people who want to perform or to be vendors to participate in the event.
Anyone who is interested in participating can contact Cory Schroeder, Stack said.
“We hope to be bigger and better next year,” he said.
Ren in the Glen is always the last weekend of July, and Stack said he hopes that people will keep it in mind for next year.
Sponsors for Ren in the Glen (1442 Dunn St. Croix Road) besides the Glen Hills Lions Club are Airtec Sports of Menomonie, Smiley Bear Design (Black River Falls), and Sand Creek Brewing (Black River Falls).
For more information about Ren in the Glen, visit: http://www.renintheglen.com.