Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Renaissance Faire

I've told you many times that I'm a total geek. Now I'm going to prove it. This is my sister and me in Renaissance Faire costumes. Hers is rented, but mine is bought, paid for and sitting in my closet.

Granted, this photo is about five years old, but the point is from age 17 until 22 I put on one of my costumes (oh yes, I have two) and went to the Bristol Renaissance Faire with my friends every weekend. We all met while working at Medieval Times, so it wasn't that strange of an activity for us. I was also doing Shakespeare in the Park, so there were whole summers where I wore period garb almost as much as normal clothes.

Now that I've shared my experience, I do have to tell you that, geek or not, the Bristol Renaissance Faire is worth checking out.

For one, the scenery is gorgeous. Even though it's only open in the summer, the buildings are permanent, so people have put a lot of time and effort into building the shops. Aside from the fact that they sell some pretty awesome merchandise, many of the shop owners have purchased the building and live above the store all summer long.

This is one of my favorites.

Once you're inside the shops, you'll be extremely impressed with the quality and artistry available. Yes, there are swords and strange costumes, but just about everything is handmade. My suede bodice cost me about $150 and was made by the shopkeeper, and it's stunning! There are gorgeous glass-blown items, and you can watch the artist make the pieces in the shop. Same with metal and leather artists. It's really amazing to watch.

Then there are the actors:

The faire comes fully-equipped with a cast ranging from the queen to lowly peasants. The nobility - the queen, ladies-in-waiting, Lord Chancelor, etc. - actually stage performances throughout the faire, but there are dozens of other characters roaming around and interacting with the guests. I had a few friends who did this, and they create elaborate stories and have the most amazing costumes. I never did it because they don't get paid, and I was never geeky enough to drive to Wisconsin every weekend without pay.

Me in costume number two. With a goat.
There are also some fun rides, a petting zoo, various comedy and acrobatic acts and some VERY delicious food.

About five years ago, my husband and I grew out of going to faire every weekend and lost touch with just about all of our Medieval Times friends. I haven't gone in two years, and I'm a tiny bit afraid that my bodice won't fit anymore. Sure, I bought it when I was 17, but you know that doesn't matter. 

So, if you're willing to drive just a few feet over the Wisconsin border, definitely visit the Bristol Renaissance Faire. It opened last weekend and runs until Memorial Day. You can save money by buying your tickets in advance online, but be sure to stick around the front gate for a few minutes. Sometimes the peasants will stand on top of the tower and hurl insults at you. Faire is fun!  


  1. I love that you are a huge Renaissance geek because it makes me feel better about being a Shakespeare geek and attending 9234242 Shakespeare festivals a year.
    Twitter: @GlamKitten88

  2. That is awesome!! I am totally jealous of your costume. Ya'll are too cute. I would love to get all dressed up and get into it! So much fun :)

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