I’ve known of Carr far longer than I’ve actually known him. When I started at the Renaissance Festival thirty years ago, the Ratcatcher was one of the most well-known street characters anywhere.
I didn’t know him as a person then. I knew him as an icon. He was what all of us were trying to be, if only just a little bit.
Many years later, Carr was the Artistic Director of the festival and he had created what can be fairly called a lifetime achievement award. I was the third recipient of the award and he was the person who presented it to me. It was a surreal moment. I was recognized for my contributions to the festival by someone who was a legend long before I ever started making them.
A few years after that, I made a push to present that award to Carr. It seemed wrong to me that he should be excluded from consideration due to the technicality that he created the award.
Carr is a passionate man. He has so many passions, it is hard to see how he manages to keep track of them all. He is a speaker, a photographer, a director, a political activist, an actor, and a great deal more.
The festival is a world of challenges and frequently a world of extreme negativity. Everyone thinks they could do things better. Most of them are right.
But a focus on the negative can be crippling. Carr is so relentlessly positive about the experience that he reminds all of us why we are doing this in the first place. We are doing it for the love of the experience. At some level, that love of the experience outweighs all of the negative stuff.
His talent is to find a way to keep a huge cast focused on the good things. He doesn’t pretend the bad things aren’t there. He simply reminds us that they can’t be the most important thing. Otherwise, why are we there?
Carr and I don’t always agree. Yet I have the utmost respect for him because he disagrees with me without ever devaluing my opinion.
I know who Carr is as a person now. That’s better than being an icon. Icons aren’t real.