The year is 1574, and the Queen is visiting the English city of Bristol. Merriment is everywhere: parades march down the streets, merchants hawk their wares, and minstrels and jesters entertain the villagers. For two months every summer, you can go back in time and take part in the recreation of Queen Elizabeth’s Bristol visit at the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
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Visitors are encouraged to come in costume to make the experience that much more authentic. If you don’t have a costume, you can rent one for the day or purchase one from the several merchants selling Renaissance period dress. So many visitors wear costumes it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between a guest and a Faire employee or vendor.
Besides period dress, accessories and weapons, the Marketplace’s nearly 180 artisans and crafters sell unique items, including jewelry, candles, glass work, stone work, and lots more, some demonstrating their crafts.
Everywhere you turn on the Ren Faire’s (as it’s called for short) 30 tree-shaded acres, entertainment of some sort is taking place. With 20 performance venues, you may catch a show on an open-air stage, like the Barely Balanced acrobatic comedy, or music and dancing throughout the grounds. You’ll get the day’s schedule as you enter the Ren Faire.
One show not to miss is jousting, with several different shows scheduled in the Joust Arena each day. In the one we attended, Tournament Joust, four knights in full armor competed on horseback, skillfully catching airborne rings on their lances and then trying to knock the shields off of their opponents. You cheer for your favorite knight, which happens to be the one assigned to your section.
Be sure to pay a visit to the Queen and her Court.
Food is a big part of the Ren Faire experience, and you can get almost anything imaginable, from pickles to artichokes, Shepherd’s Pye to crepes, or soups to nuts, literally. I couldn’t pass up a turkey drumstick, which seems to go hand-in-hand with Renaissance faires and jousting shows. The drumstick was big enough for two to share.
While some of the Ren Faire is adult oriented, there is plenty for kids to enjoy, too, including a giant sandbox and rides. Some of the activities require an additional fee.
There is no way you can watch every show and take part in all of the activities before it’s time to be catapulted back into the 21st century. You’ll have to pick and choose, or better yet, plan multiple days to attend the Bristol Renaissance Faire.
If you go to the Bristol Renaissance Faire
The Bristol Renaissance Faire, voted best Renaissance Faire in the nation for the past three years by the Renaissance Festival Podcast, runs on the weekends for two months beginning in July. Check the web site for exact schedule including special event weekends, directions and other information.
Disclosures: My visit to the Bristol Renaissance Faire was hosted by the Bristol Renaissance Faire and the Kenosha Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, but any opinions expressed in this post are my own.
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