MovieBob Goes to the Renaissance Faire

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MovieBob Goes to the Renaissance Faire

MovieBob downs some mead, ogles some elven maidens, and ponders purchasing a shiny new sword at the local Ren Faire.

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I happen to live within driving range of Bristol, one of the biggest Renaissance Faires in the country. My best friend works there every Summer (and I feel guilty about not going down to visit him this Summer, but I was either too busy or too exhausted most of the time).

It does share the characteristics of being a permanent installation (though only open in the Summer), being well-nestled into a scenic forest (with, I kid you not, a river running right through part of it, ending in a lake in which one of the exhibits is an examination of boating techniques).

I know the sight of the historical outfits (and the décolletage is nice), but I don't recall seeing many cosplayers from anime and game fandom. Maybe I just wasn't looking hard enough, or maybe the culture there is different. I'll have to keep an eye out next time.

Literally living in the shadow of a 900 year old castle, the whole idea of Americans trying to re-create the Middle Ages kind of makes me laugh.

I've always wanted to go to a Faire. It sounds like a great way to spend a day

Edit: On the off chance you actually read the comments, Moivebob...what is the best reaction you've ever gotten for wearing a video game shirt?

Ah, the Renaissance Faire...good times, good times. Might we see pictures of said Elven Maidens? lol

I don't think you get anything quite like Rennaisance Faire's in the UK, so i'm starting to view them as one of those things unique to America and so I will probably add "go to a Renaissance Faire" to my mental list of "Things to do if i ever go to America". They sound like dubiously cheezy affairs, but a great place to go for an easy laugh over a couple too many drinks.

You do of course see some things in Rennaisance Faire's in the UK too. Leed's armouries for instance has a purpose built jousting ring complete with stables and blacksmiths, and a number of castles here also host jousting tournaments on open public days. On such day's you can typically expect to have a chance to try some archery, watch some sword fighting and falconry, as well buy the usual trinklets and see the usual children's entertainment in the form of "punch and judy" and pantomime's. But American Rennasance Faire's seem a lot more nerdy than their nearest equivalents in the UK.

You'll never see Black Mages, D&D characters or elven princess at Castle open day's, and nor will you see anything on the same kind of scale that you get in America. However, this latter point could be explained by the fact that castles are either built on hilly ground so space is at a premium, or that they have big huge gardens which limits space further. Basically, Castle Open day's in the UK are very vanilla family affairs. And you rarely see a trace of nerd culture at these events. Unless i've been looking in all the wrong places, there is are no beautiful eleven maidens and no spiky weapons on sale, which is a slight shame i suppose.

There was a Renaissance Faire near where I grew up, and it was a yearly event for my family - I remember my dad use to dress up with a staff, animal skins and ended up looking more like a druid than any other word I can think of; my sisters would dress up like 'faries', or 'princesses' or if they were feeling magical, 'farie princesses'; my brother and I were generally a little more toned down (though we always had some sort of weapon/shield fashioned out of wood).

It was something that was really quite fun, through the wonderfully opaque rose colored lenses nostalgia lends.

Archangel357:
Literally living in the shadow of a 900 year old castle, the whole idea of Americans trying to re-create the Middle Ages kind of makes me laugh.

That's nice. Not really sure how this adds to the conversation, other than the obligatory troll.

No such thing here in Brazil. Geek culture is very weak here.

Marowit:
That's nice. Not really sure how this adds to the conversation, other than the obligatory troll.

I dunno, to me, it's the same as Frenchmen dressing up as cowboys and indians, or the weeaboo phenomenon. The Middle Ages are a critical part of our history, and if you've ever seen any town in Europe, it is still present everywhere. We know what castles look like.

It's... dunno, weird.

And the typical American ideas of that period are so woefully inaccurate as to be embarrassing, is all I'm saying. You've got Caribbean piracy, the Revolution, the Civil War, and the Wild West as eras you can recreate with rather more accuracy than papier-maché castles and King Arthur dressed in 14th-century plate mail.

Archangel357:

Marowit:
That's nice. Not really sure how this adds to the conversation, other than the obligatory troll.

I dunno, to me, it's the same as Frenchmen dressing up as cowboys and indians, or the weeaboo phenomenon. The Middle Ages are a critical part of our history, and if you've ever seen any town in Europe, it is still present everywhere. We know what castles look like.

It's... dunno, weird.

And the typical American ideas of that period are so woefully inaccurate as to be embarrassing, is all I'm saying. You've got Caribbean piracy, the Revolution, the Civil War, and the Wild West as eras you can recreate with rather more accuracy than papier-maché castles and King Arthur dressed in 14th-century plate mail.

I think its less about historical accuracy, and more about having a great time. I've been to one of these and it is a freakin' blast.

Ren Fairs are fun, espeically for re-enactors.

I have a theory that one of the things that made modern re-enacmtnment possible was roleplaying. Simon During in his article Mimic Toil (Rethinking History, 11: 3, 313 - 333) possed the queestion of why didn't historical re-enacment as a hobby occure until after WW2. To condence his article down he basically argues that by the 1800s you had most of the social conditions that turned historical re-enacment into a hobby, but it didn't start until much later. Outside of possibly disposable income (most early re-enactment events were proformed by wealthy people who wore their ancestor's actual armour) I theorise that the crucial difference was roleplaying games. I guess I should specify that I'm reffering to paper and dice roleplaying games as the compterised tpye weren't around when re-enactment started. Roleplaying games brought to the fore the idea of being a character from a strange time and place as a form of recreation. Of the re-enactors I've met a fairly large number are also roleplayers, the escapism in both is what makes it fun.

Mr.Pandah:

Archangel357:

Marowit:
That's nice. Not really sure how this adds to the conversation, other than the obligatory troll.

I dunno, to me, it's the same as Frenchmen dressing up as cowboys and indians, or the weeaboo phenomenon. The Middle Ages are a critical part of our history, and if you've ever seen any town in Europe, it is still present everywhere. We know what castles look like.

It's... dunno, weird.

And the typical American ideas of that period are so woefully inaccurate as to be embarrassing, is all I'm saying. You've got Caribbean piracy, the Revolution, the Civil War, and the Wild West as eras you can recreate with rather more accuracy than papier-maché castles and King Arthur dressed in 14th-century plate mail.

I think its less about historical accuracy, and more about having a great time. I've been to one of these and it is a freakin' blast.

Yeah, but you take other people's very real past and turn it into, well, McDonald's. I think it's a bit disrespectful, is all. Just my opinion, feel free to disagree with it.

Archangel357:
Literally living in the shadow of a 900 year old castle, the whole idea of Americans trying to re-create the Middle Ages kind of makes me laugh.

Well then surely you can understand that a large group of displaced Europeans living in America would want to reclaim a part of their culture when you live within throwing distance of what they strive for. Imagine if you didn't live by such a castle, wouldn't you miss it?

I personally love the Renaissance/Medieval Faire, I say that without a touch of shame.

Archangel357:

Mr.Pandah:

Archangel357:

Marowit:
That's nice. Not really sure how this adds to the conversation, other than the obligatory troll.

I dunno, to me, it's the same as Frenchmen dressing up as cowboys and indians, or the weeaboo phenomenon. The Middle Ages are a critical part of our history, and if you've ever seen any town in Europe, it is still present everywhere. We know what castles look like.

It's... dunno, weird.

And the typical American ideas of that period are so woefully inaccurate as to be embarrassing, is all I'm saying. You've got Caribbean piracy, the Revolution, the Civil War, and the Wild West as eras you can recreate with rather more accuracy than papier-maché castles and King Arthur dressed in 14th-century plate mail.

I think its less about historical accuracy, and more about having a great time. I've been to one of these and it is a freakin' blast.

Yeah, but you take other people's very real past and turn it into, well, McDonald's. I think it's a bit disrespectful, is all. Just my opinion, feel free to disagree with it.

Or we could just forget about it entirely. I guess that would be the nicest thing to do.

Honestly, if King Arthur was running around in plate mail, and not chain mail, its not that big of a problem, nor should it be. We're in the ballpark with it. When people re-enact the Wild West, its all been glorified and romanticized to such an exaggerated point that its hardly how it was back then either, and that was only a little over 100 years ago.

I just don't see how its disrespectful that we're trying to bring back something that is so much fun to be a part of. I mean, I know you don't care for it obviously, but that doesn't mean that other people aren't earnest in their actions towards it and really just enjoy the atmosphere that something like this sets up.

Dangerious P. Cats:
I have a theory that one of the things that made modern re-enacmtnment possible was roleplaying. Simon During in his article Mimic Toil (Rethinking History, 11: 3, 313 - 333) possed the queestion of why didn't historical re-enacment as a hobby occure until after WW2.

You do find a few examples pre-WW2, but you're right, it doesn't really blossom as a hobby until well after the war. I personally think the big catalyst was the centennial of the US Civil War in the early 1960s, which really kicked off the hobby, and the founding of the SCA shortly afterwards. But roleplaying and wargaming were definitely boosts to the hobby, no doubt about it. Several of my gaming friends are in the SCA or did historical reenactment, and us steampunks often visit 19th century museums and Victorian events with our definitely-not-period costumes.

Archangel357:

Yeah, but you take other people's very real past and turn it into, well, McDonald's. I think it's a bit disrespectful, is all. Just my opinion, feel free to disagree with it.

It's a valid opinion, and I'm not here to disagree with it so much as offer another perspective - that sure, we Yanks make a mess of everyone's history, sure, including our own - and while in this case it's really all in jest and an excuse to have fun, I'm sure it can still touch nerves. We aren't the only ones, though. Sure, Hollywood's impression of the "Wild West" isn't very accurate, but foreign filmmakers have jumped on that bandwagon too - MovieBob himself talked about Clint Eastwood's "Spaghetti Western" trilogy not too long ago.

Sure, if I went to Europe and saw a modern recreation of the Wild West show, I'd find it a little disrespectful, too, but I'd also recognise it for what it's probably intended to be - an excuse to have a good time and make money. (For the organisers, not the attendees.)

I'm not sure how I'd feel about it if I were European, though, honestly, so I can't question how you feel. I do understand, though.

Archangel357:
Literally living in the shadow of a 900 year old castle, the whole idea of Americans trying to re-create the Middle Ages kind of makes me laugh.

I'm actually glad to have heard this from someone - It has often occured to me that our (American's) fixation on "re-creating" storybook versions of cultures that ACTUALLY existed somewhere else must look from the outside.

Amusingly, about a 2 hour drive from this Faire (re: on the OTHER side of Boston) there's a local curiousity called The Hammond Castle: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammond_Castle It's a "Medieval European" castle an eccentric inventor had built from pieces of other castles he had shipped over here like that guy from "Gargoyles."

I would own the shit out of that archery and I'm not just saying that. Surprisingly to me, this sounds like a lot of fun. I could totally see myself buying a kickass shield or some leather boots, and I'd have a blast throwing axes at a wall while and expanding my beer staff. (hopefully not at the same time)

Archangel357:
Literally living in the shadow of a 900 year old castle, the whole idea of Americans trying to re-create the Middle Ages kind of makes me laugh.

Same here - Its always made me chuckle slightly when they are so amazed by castles.

Alas, those where the days!

Jaredin:

Archangel357:
Literally living in the shadow of a 900 year old castle, the whole idea of Americans trying to re-create the Middle Ages kind of makes me laugh.

Same here - Its always made me chuckle slightly when they are so amazed by castles.

Alas, those where the days!

Being to an actual castle took a lot of my interest away. Except for the less ancient and obviously eye-candy ones they are usually pretty ugly looking. Not to mention the time period itself was absolute crap to live in for most. Then again, I never really cared about medieval culture and me and my family go just to make fun of ridiculous events and people in horrible costumes.
At least I'll say this about them, renaissance festivals are pretty family friendly. I've been to a pirate festival once. The stuff going on there was just...wow.

I just got back from the Kansas City Ren Fest and it's a blast every year. Like the one in you describe it's a permenant structure, although probably smaller, and it's great to know your way around after a couple of years. I never miss a chance to go once or twice a year, even though I'm several hours away.

Good that you didn't buy a sword from there, those often tend to be rubbish. Or in my case, the swords sold at the closest equivalent of one. Worst case, they're stainless steel rat-tail -tanged Sword-Like-Objects with a price way over what it should be (which I'd say is somewhere below their weight in that stainless steel). I tend to do all my weapon purchasing (which is basically all of my money not required to stay alive) custom-ordered from smiths I've heard good about from serious collectors. Naturally something cheaper first to see if there's any truth to that, and only after getting a good look-see at the steel I get into the more expensive stuff.
Yeah, I know that it doesn't really matter at all if a sword-shaped piece of steel actually works or not if you just want to hang it on a wall and look at it, but I personally loathe to buy something that looks like a sword but is actually a poorly made aping of one. Give me the most pragmatic, ugly yet functional carbon steel full tang blade over a gorgeous stainless steel piece, and I'll be happier than ever. Of course, coming from Northeastern Europe means I get to have a lot of
Hmh, my first sword is pretty much that butt-ugly thing. I still have her, and she's more or less a completely unadorned, honestly ugly sword. There's balance, there's a solid form, but there's also the fact she looks like the victim of an assault with a hammer. I've never seen an uglier pommel, and the guard is somewhat asymmetrical. The handle has uneven risers (most of which I'm sure are not even real risers but some accidental mishap) and the whole thing's basically bad to look at. So it's amazing that she makes up for it so well in hand. Nevermind the ugliness, she's good to hold and has a great swing. Doesn't fight against it, doesn't punish for hitting a target. I've no idea what transpired to create this steel lady, but she's a dearie. I still display her beside blades that cost me ten times that. Bought her from a friend way back. Apparently, she was some apprentice smith's first serious attempt at a sword. He really focused on function over form, I guess. Or it was an accident. Nevertheless, these are the happy mishaps I try new smiths for.
On a sidenote, whereas that sword is the lady, the "sir" is quite different. Probably the most expensive sword I will ever have. In a way, they're both very, very nice. I can't pick a favorite.

Yeah, I'm going to stop creepily talking about my swords and why you shouldn't buy certain swords now and let you all get back to talking about renfaires. Oh, I should probably wax up the newest blade again. He's a bit of a brute.

I'll be heading out to my local faire in a couple weeks out in Lancaster, Pa. It's always a great time. Getting hammered, heckling the stunt performers, beating up my friends in the fencing pit, getting beaten by my wife in the fencing pit, drinking mead and ale and wine. And the corsets... my god, the corsets... I will be forever grateful to the pretty shop girl who taught my wife how to 'fluff'.

I can not wait for October 9th...

Can't wait until mid October! Won't be going to a renn faire, technically, but the SCA's Great Western War still attracts its share of merchant booths and attractive young women in corsets.

MovieBob:

Archangel357:
Literally living in the shadow of a 900 year old castle, the whole idea of Americans trying to re-create the Middle Ages kind of makes me laugh.

I'm actually glad to have heard this from someone - It has often occured to me that our (American's) fixation on "re-creating" storybook versions of cultures that ACTUALLY existed somewhere else must look from the outside.

Hey, it's all in good fun. When I lived in Chicago, my dad and I got invited to literally every German-themed happening in the entire Midwest, from Oktoberfests in Wisconsin and Peoria to the Steuben Parade in the Loop.
Some were really cool, and some were so beyond the camp that we didn't know whether to chuckle or be sick.

The thing is, history and medieval literature are my job, and I live in one of the highest castle per capita regions in the world. Some parts around here, you just look at the centre of town when there are few people around, and you can imagine being in the year 1315. So that era to me is something very much present - just last months, two friends of mine got married in a small church in my hometown which was built 1,100 years ago.

I know nobody means any insult to anybody, and that those fairs are great fun - we have them here, also (albeit in real castles), they're usually called knights' markets or something - it's that an American, dressed in totally anachronistic armour, going "I shall lop off thine head" in a New England accent... Well, as I alluded to before, imagine a Frenchman playing a banjo and going "yee haw".

Dunno, maybe I'm just allergic to paper maché.

They didn't have the Dragon this year? Too bad.
Edit: Well now that I've looked up Hercules, I can honestly say they found a suitable replacement

The only Ren Faire I've been to was in Tuxedo, NY. I live in Western Mass and at the time didn't know about any in the eastern end of the state. But I did have a great time at "The Medieval Manor" theatre restaurant in Boston.

Hey, cool! I'e actually been there several times as a kid. That place rocks the shit.

MovieBob:
MovieBob downs some mead, ogles some elven maidens, and ponders purchasing a shiny new sword at the local Ren Faire.

I am certain that if you showed up at the office wielding a sword, the boss and/or accountant would say "Yes, you can claim that as a buisness expense."

image

Thats why I give you this
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What a coincidence. My town is having a "Viking Festival" tomorrow. Gonna' get my Norse on!

HAIL GODS OF WAR!!!!

I'd like to see some pics. Of women. ;)

hey i've been here! king richards faire is great.
also, check out that family guy episode that takes place there, its wicked funny! haha

Once I got over the hump of childhood and self-consciousness kicked in, I felt like a fool for not going with a costume on. At the same time of course there was no way I was going to wear a costume. So the entire experience is kind of a catch 22.

Then there's the tipping of the performers. I don't really like most of their acts, but you've got to do something and you feel kind of guilty, if not for watching, for the effort and time they put in, so I end up tipping them all anyway.

And some people get way too into it. Luckily there are far more people that are dressed up and there but kind of embarrassed to be doing it, and they're okay. But the really serious ones can be scary.

I feel that I need to get a proper throwing axe one of these days or I am going to regret it.

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