10 August 2015

Wisconsin: Bristol Renaissance Faire

Here’s what the Bristol Renaissance Faire’s website has to say about this extraordinary event:

Every Faire day recreates a time when knights were noble, maids were merry and turkey legs were titanic. Once you enter the portal gates, you travel back in time to the year 1574, and you've walked right into an exciting village festival day. … Revelry is the order of the day!
For 9 glorious weekends starting in early July, each Saturday and Sunday, plus Labor Day Monday, visitors take a rollicking romp through Elizabethan England, complete with 16th Century games, rides, arts, crafts, food, music and one-of-a-kind encounters with a spectacular cast of characters. The Faire boasts a beautiful 30-acre site with open-air stages featuring Swordfighters, Minstrels and Jesters. …
Nearly 200 artisans display their wares in the Bristol Faire Marketplace. Potters, glass blowers, jewelers and forgers busily go about their work, as shoppers discover rare finds around every corner. Offerings range from sterling silver jewelry, hand-thrown pottery and fine crafted leather works to hickory walking sticks, rich tapestries to hammered pewter.

Before we even got inside the gates it was apparent that the day was going to be anything but boring! One of the things I loved best about the Faire was the audience participation. From small children to the elderly, people came dressed up in the most amazing costumes. I’m not so sure all these weird and wonderful creatures would’ve roamed the streets of Elizabethan England but who cares? The idea was simply to have fun and be whoever you wanted to be.

Setting the scene ...

Moonie was our first show of the day – a silent clown / rope walker / juggler. He was hilarious, possibly more than usual because the ‘assistant’ he chose from the audience was really dumb and Moonie was able to play on that. I don’t think the assistant was a plant as his girlfriend seemed genuinely embarrassed and kept calling out, telling him what he should be doing!

And there was singing …

Barely Balanced: they may look just like two guys and a girl on stilts …

But, wait, there’s more. Large, Medium and Small, as they call themselves, were the best acrobats and jugglers I’ve ever seen! Their strength and skills were astounding, especially as they never did gymnastics at school and only became performers as adults. They presented two different shows so we made sure to watch both.

And there were fairies, silent, ethereal, gliding about amongst the trees, communing with flowers, constructing webs, assembling tiny piles of twigs, enchanting children young and old.

Did I mention the dressing up?

Adam Winrich, the Firewhip guy (above left), who pranced about in tights producing sonic booms with his whip, and Vegetable Justice (right), where you paid to get insulted then tried to hit the insulter with the vegetables you threw.

Some of the outlandish characters that were wandering about …

And let’s finish off a most delightful day with more singing …

If you ever get the chance, do go to the Faire. Make the effort to dress up and abandon yourself to the fun and frivolity. You won't regret it!

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