Bristol Renaissance Faire

1 08 2008

Hail and well met! On a fair July morn at week’s end, we partook in a visit to the wondrous Bristol Renaissance Faire in the fair state of Wisconsin on the border of Illinois. Amongst fair maidens and brave knights, we strolled through the village, wondered at pretty shiny trinkets, and witnessed such exciting events as her majesty’s court and an acrobatic show. We treated ourselves to ye giant turkey leg and drank refreshing lemon water and root beer.

Woooh, that paragraph took about 20 minutes to write. Well I tried anyway!

The modern day Renaissance Faire is a uniquely American creation that is part amusement park, part historical reenactment, and part commercial enterprise. After paying the $16 entrance fee, all shows and entertainment are free but visitors pay for any food and of course anything that catches their fancy in the many shoppes around the fair. While European historical fairs have long existed, they are more focused on historical accuracy and education. The focus of the American Renaissance Fair is entertainment and fun that is not always historically accurate.

The grand entrance to the faire did not disappoint, and even included a comely peasant wench.

The streets are lined with shoppes and places to eat, interspersed with entertaining characters and shows. You can try your hand at trying to climb Jacob’s ladder (an exercise in balance), try to hit a giant mallet as hard as you can, or practice archery, among other things.

As with most fairs of this type, the Bristol Renaissance Faire is set in England during the reign of Elizabeth I. In particular, this fair recreates the Queen’s visit to the city of Bristol in 1574.

Above we witness the happenings of her majesty’s court.

Actors in full period dress roam the fair interacting with visitors. They even had authentic looking beggars. Visitors can choose to come in costume, and many do. There is no pressure to dress up though (we did not).

Some visitors go all out and come dressed up with their friends, and wear scary looking weapons. We loved this guy’s fur cape and giant mallet.

Shops were abundant throughout the entire fair and you could purchase period clothing, staffs, wands, shiny costume jewelry and even chain mail.

Above is a skilled glass blower using a blowtorch shaped like a dragon.

Here is a shoppe selling walking staffs.

Free shows happened almost every hour and there were a large variety from which to choose. Besides the main jousting events, there were acrobat shows, comedy shows, a mud pit where beggars wrestled, and the queen’s court.

We really enjoyed the acrobatic show.

The Bristol Renaissance Faire runs for 9 weekends during the summer from July through the beginning of September. Although it is a summer activity, the structures and grounds are permanent and quite large.

Despite the heat and humidity, Charles and I really enjoyed our Saturday here at the Ren faire. It was our first time and and I’m sure we will be returning next summer!

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7 responses

1 08 2008
ps

looks super fun! did you guys eat there too? a whole chicken or turkey leg?

man, i miss chicago!!!

2 08 2008
travelswithsandy

Of course we ate there. We shared a whole turkey leg. It made us so full we didn’t really eat anything else even though we wanted to!

6 08 2008
Frostfox

I am from Chicago, and I used to go there every year. I can’t believe you didn’t focus more on “The Mud Show”. “Trojans, Trojans, we will never break, UH”!

6 08 2008
travelswithsandy

Haha! We actually missed the Mud Show. We were planning to attend but then it got really really hot so we didn’t wait until the next show. Next time though!

9 08 2008
Nomadic Matt

I thought you meant Bristol england and I wondered how I missed it when I was there two weeks ago!

looks like a fun time though!

11 08 2008
Jenny

I missed this one! I actually wanted to put an Elizabethan wig on and eat a leg of lamb for a picture!

19 10 2010
Audra

man, that place is sooo awesome! we all dress up and go EVERY year no matter what. The chocolate- covered strawberries, the onion blossoms, mushrooms, sassafras are a must. We also never miss the moonie and broon show and shop sooo much! we save up all year for this

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