Road Read – Push Monkey Fun in Sherwood Forest

Everyone has favorite places.
 

They can be spots where you feel safe like being at home. Or places that are exciting like a good camping spot or a good sports arena. A favorite bar that serve you’re a drink just like you like it and always have music that seems to be just right. Places where you are sure to see some of your best friends and are sure to meet other good people. It might be a place you enjoy alone and no one else knows about and it might be a place where you are surrounded by thousands of others that appreciate that place just like you do.  

Sherwood Forest Faire just east of Austin is one of those places for me. If you are not familiar with Sherwood, it is a medieval faire based on the time period of Robin Hood.  

I was lucky enough to be involved with it since its inception over 9 years ago. But this year was a bit different. My attendance previously has been as a patron. I would go several times a season and spend a night or two camping and fill my days with drinking with friends and listening to the music that Sherwood is known for.  

This year, I showed up every day and worked from open to close.  

In February of 2018, I drove to Paige, Texas where the faire is located and attended a job fair there that is held to fill positions for vendors as well as jobs report directly to the fair organizers. I was very unsure if I wanted to work at the festival. I had worked fair jobs before but only part time. This was a much higher level of commitment. While I was there, I had several opportunities to interview with different vendors. The interviews were relaxed but formal applications were required and I was glad that knew several people that were willing to give me references.  

I interviewed with a father/mother/son team that are well known at Sherwood. Those of you that have read some of my articles or know me personally, understand how important my father is to me so I had an appreciation for this family. I also found out that the father and I had some similar background work experience involving safety and risk management. Overall, I just got a really positive feeling from them and had a level of trust that whatever they were involved in would be done professionally.  

Several days later, I heard back from them and while all the highly desirable jobs like security and bar tenders were taken, there was an opportunity to work doing one of the push rides. These are rides like giant swings or in this case a ride that would spin people around. They are not motorized and require the workers to manually make the magic happen. It’s a tough job with long hours. It was also a challenge and I like challenges. I accepted and got ready for my season at Sherwood as what is often called a Push Monkey.  

I would be able to meet some new people, make a bit of money and have an experience that I normally would not be able to do.  

There were several days of when I was able to use some woodworking skills and assist with getting the rides ready before the season opened. A season for Sherwood is 8 weeks long with the 3rd weekend being a 3 day one in order to accommodate the Spring Break crowd. 17 days at about 9.5 hours per day.  

I’ll be honest. The absolute worst part was just the sore feet from being on them all day. The second worst part was seeing all the people that you would normally be drinking and carousing with having a great time while you are focused on the job at hand and making as much money for the owner as possible. However, it was still great to see so many of my friends and the best part was the people I got to work with.  

Since this was a two-man job, I had help during the season from 2 fantastic people. Dylan and Stephen and Harley made the experience so much more enjoyable than I could have ever expected. If you are going to spend long hours doing manual labor, the best that you can hope for is to have good people to work with. These guys were awesome.  

I made enough money to put some into savings. I was also able to get some supplies and gear that normally I would have been more hesitant to purchase. New motorcycle boots and a new tent for example.  

Having a good boss helped just as much. If you are considering doing something like this, make sure that you are working for people that care about you. Every concern I had was quickly addressed. I was regularly compensated for meals since we often only had a short time to eat. But most importantly, I and the people I worked with were appreciated. A lot of managers that I have known in the corporate environment could take some lessons from my boss at Sherwood. It is amazing how hard people are willing to work when they feel appreciated.  

Would I do it again? Time will tell. I would absolutely work for this family again. I am sincerely grateful for the experience and I met some damn fine people along the way.  

If you get a chance, go to Sherwood Forest Faire. And be good to the Push Monkeys.  

Keep the course,  

Johnny 

4/30/18