A Geeky Dad's Trip to the Bristol Renaissance Faire

in geek •  3 months ago

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?



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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.



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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.



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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.



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One of several shows involving acrobatics.



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Last year my daughter was convinced fairies lived here.



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Another hand powered ride



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Some geeky dad and his son dueling



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A patron having some fun?



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One of many vendors in character



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A wood fairy who interacted quite nicely with my daughter



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I did not take him up on his generous offer.



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One of the very funny street performers. At one point, he pooped candy for a kid who dropped money in his bucket.



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The joust was quite authentic.



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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!

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Awesome Han! This knight reckons he would fit in very well in Bristol. Jousting and fencing. Two of my favourite things. 😃

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Yes! I actually thought of you while I was there. I think you would have fit right in.

This looks like SO MUCH FUN! I wish they did things like this in my city.

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I hope you can find one some day. It really is a very interesting experience.

I love Ren Fest! I never knew there were so many in the USA!

Oh my goodness!!!! I grew up in Chicago and the Renfair was one of my favorite things to do in the summer. I really wish I was back there to go back once in a while. I'm glad you had such a fun time. One of my favorite things to do (sin kids) is the meade bar crawl lol

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I am so happy this brought back found memories for you. Yeah I only looked at it from a parent's perspective but I think thee have been many improvements for adults as well.

Great review. This is on my list to try sometime, probably when my kids are a bit older. I'm glad to know it's young people friendly, though probably there is some variation between different Ren Faire locations.

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Thanks. I do think this location is unique. I remember reading that it is the only permanent Ren Faire location so they are able to have the permanent rides and restaurants. They also have permanent bathroom facilities with actual flushing toilets. I don't think they had those 20 years ago when I went.

I couldn't find the source stating it was the only permanent one so I did not include that detail.

I hope you find a quality one near you. I think your family will definitely enjoy it.

We also have this sometimes here in our country - I have never gone, but I really want to. It looks awesome

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If you ever go, make sure you write a post about it. I think it would be very educational to see how other countries do it.

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That is a great idea - now I just need to keep my ear on the ground for when there will be another one

We went to our first Ren Faire this year and had a great time! I am so glad your second time was the winner. Huzzah!!

It never ceases to amaze me. My 16 year old son is a huge Monty Python fan. If I had a nickel for every time we watched the Quest for Holy Grail and laughed at the Black Knight. We have s pioneer village called Upoer Vanada Village where they just a Midevil Festival every year. The kids love it. Great pictures btw!!!

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Thanks! The Black Knight scene is still one of my favorite movie scenes ever. That sounds like a cool festival.

You always wear a mask, it's time I see the batman behind the hood, and em it looks like your son is pretty good in those dueling attires, you love star wars too apparently he took that from you hahahaha

What an adventure
Congratulations to you and your wife. 20 years+ in marriage is no joke
Wish you two lovely celebrations as a couple
I thought Bristol is in the UK too

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Thanks! It is named after Bristol from England.

The Bristol Renaissance Faire looks amazing! I have only been to a faire like that about 8 years ago, and it was a lot of fun! Our local town here in Idaho is having one next month, and we are looking forward to taking @hotrod and his 13 year old brother. They have never been to anything like this.
I loved all your pics of the costumes and the hand powered rides! Those are something you don't see very often!
Thanks for sharing your fun family day!
I'm glad you enjoyed re-visiting it after all these years! What a blast!

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That is so cool that @hotrod will still hang out with you! I hope my son will be willing to spend some family time as he continues to become an older (and crabbier) teenager.

It is a great thing when one enjoys with his/her family. You spend time with your kids and enjoyed with your family. In these days people often don't find time for their families which is destroying families. Spending good time with family is the most enjoyable thing in life.

Looks am amazing time if your geeky or not. Love the photographs :)

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Thanks! I was really surprised when I went back after so much time away.

I wish I could have been there too!!! It looks like a lot of fun, I am glad your family had a great time.

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Thanks man. Lifes-a-donut seems to having something up her sleeve. Hope it is fun!

I'm glad that you enjoyed going back after a couple of years after vowing that you'll never return. I guess the best part of going back there was bonding with your family and making new memories. While I was reading I was thinking that you guys really enjoyed. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Have a great day!

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Thanks. We really had a lot of fun. I am guessing it will be an annual trip for a while.

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You're welcome. That's nice that you decided to go there annually, hopefully it won't degrade throughout the years. I'd imagine when your children will have their own kids they would be doing the same thing and remember you guys.

Ohh, I love Renaissance fairs, my family went to one in Sterling NY every year of my childhood :)

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awesome images

I can't imagine goths at a Renaissance Faire. That would be an interesting experience, but not one I need to have. Glad you had fun at the current version. I went to the Denver Renaissance Faire a few years ago and had a great time.

Wow, nice to see the kids happy, I'm a lover of kids

To be honest the free hugs thing looks creepy lol

I've never experienced something like this, in latinamerica haven't heard f one.. but it's something that i look foward to. I have a question.. does everyone have to dress up? I mean.. where do u get the costumes?

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wow it looks incredibly great. I really enjoyed the photos it looks so fun