When my wife and I first started dating over 20 years ago (and had all the time in the world) we decided to attend a Renaissance Fair. Luckily for us, we lived in Chicago so The Bristol Renaissance Faire was merely a one hour drive away. As we entered the Faire, it became very clear that there would be an overabundant amount of people wearing Marilyn Manson shirts, chain-mail, leather jackets (and pants, shirts, vests, dresses, hats, and masks) and enough body odor to make a professional wrestler gag. Who knew people in the renaissance were so into Gothic music and bondage?
The Bristol Renaissance Faire today.
After a miserable couple of hours of coughing at the smell of clove cigarettes and navigating between overdressed, sweaty people wearing black eyeliner, we made our way to the car. Although my wife and I were very accustomed to the Goth scene from hanging out at all the dance clubs we did, it seemed out of place during the day on a field just over the Wisconsin border. I vowed never to return.
We never did.
And then... we had children.
Not only did we have children, we raised them to be nice little geeks. My 11 year old daughter is huge into Harry Potter, unicorns, princesses and fairies (oh and Katherine Johnson) while my 13 year old son is a big fan of Star Wars, Harry Potter, Monty Python, Dungeons and Dragons... and everything else that will scare away teenage girls. It was only a matter of time before one of them spotted an advertisement for this super geeky fair.
Last summer, my daughter did just that. She quickly added my son and wife to her alliance. Outnumbered three to one, I never stood a chance. I agreed to go... under one seemingly impossible condition. I would only attend if it were below 80 degrees. Because fate hates me, such a day presented itself last July. We piled into the van and I drove the one hour to my doom.
As we entered the gates, something amazing happened.
The Bristol Renaissance Faire had become freaking awesome!
During my twenty year hiatus, the people running the fair had made the brilliant decision to make it more kid friendly. Where there once was an empty field filled with port-a-potties and leather clad Goths smoking and guzzling beer like the Sheriff were going to outlaw it at any second, now stood old fashioned carnival games and rides. And when I say "old fashioned" I mean old fashioned. The rides were all powered by actual humans running, pushing or pulling ropes. Gravity and physics did the work. No electricity was required.
That big dude right there was in charge of swinging that giant barrel with up to four kids in it.
Tipping is allowed. He definitely earned one.
The games were also Renaissance themed. Kids and adults could shoot bows and arrows, launch frogs, throw axes, and fire cannons at targets.
My kids launched many rubber frogs at those buckets. One actually went in.
There were also scripted shows, street performers, and a full on jousting tournament!
My kids loved it so much that we decided to return on the first sub-eighty degree day. That day was today. I discovered that...
The Bristol Renaissance Faire is still freaking awesome!
Although you will never mistake my photographs for works of art, hopefully the following will help give you a little flavor of The Bristol Renaissance Faire experience.
One of several shows involving acrobatics.
Last year my daughter was convinced fairies lived here.
Another hand powered ride
Some geeky dad and his son dueling
A patron having some fun?
One of many vendors in character
A wood fairy who interacted quite nicely with my daughter
I did not take him up on his generous offer.
One of the very funny street performers. At one point, he pooped candy for a kid who dropped money in his bucket.
The joust was quite authentic.
They are going to need a taller sign to accommodate their future awards.
For the first time ever, there are no image credits. All of these photos were shot by me. And yes... I shot first!