This weekend, my family and I popped on up to Wisconsin for a trip to Bristol Renaissance Faire for their first RennCon weekend. In addition to the normal faire, they had events throughout the day based on different fandoms. Attendees were encouraged to dress like characters from whatever they wanted. I, because of my extreme love of Doctor Who, went with Clara Oswald. It worked perfectly, because they had a TARDIS.
The day was great and the shows I watched were cool. My favorite things that I would most recommend are Vegetable Justice and the Joust to the Death. Vegetable Justice is a game where people throw tomatoes at a man as he insults them. The faire has a rotation of guys for this, and they were absolutely hilarious. However, they also could be incredibly offensive, so I would not recommend it if you get easily offended. Even small children were not off limits for the insults.
The Joust to the Death was extremely entertaining. None of the jousting on horse appeared to be fake, although the end sword fight definitely was. The stands are split into four sections to cheer on a knight. Our section had an incredibly entertaining knight who interacted with the crowd quite a bit. It was, however, very difficult to hear the announcer so I’m not entirely sure how well he actually did. I am not sure I would recommend that particular joust if you are taking children. Once the sword portion occurs, you get down to a winner pretty quickly. When there is fake blood there is a lot of it, and it flies out of people. There were some very distressed children sitting around us who were a bit panicked that the knight was actually dead. I guess that speaks pretty positively to his acting abilities.
The shops all had very interesting things. My favorite I found was a jewelry shop that made earrings and necklaces out of leaves preserved in gold and silver. The shops are all intermingled with many bars, and there is an opportunity to do a pub crawl throughout the faire as well.
Overall, it was very fun. However, I am not sure I would want to go back in the summer. It is not a place to be on a hot day, because there is no shade at all and water is hard to come by. You are not allowed to bring any outside food or drink into the park and we were only able to find one water fountain. Water was difficult to find at food stands as well, however I compensated by having many glasses of delicious sassafras. Food and drinks that we could find were shockingly cheap, which was definitely a nice surprise. All food and drink was cash only though, so be sure to come prepared. There were ATMs around the park, however I imagine the fees are not cheap. If you really want to get into it, they even have a stand where you can rent a Renaissance costume for the day.
It is definitely somewhere I recommend checking out at least once, even if you think it would not be something you’re generally interested in. It may be a “nerdy” activity, but it is definitely tons of fun. Huzzah!