Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

Bristol Renaissance Faire, 08-26-03

Sunday, August 26th was quite literally our last chance to get down to the Bristol Renaisance Fair, whcih we have done at least once every summer particularly for the last few years since friends of ours have started working their, either as merchants (Felix Needleworthy) or members of the Court. Of course we dress up, and over the years have acquired good enough outfits that even people who work there take us as part of the company. The drive down to Bristol was actually quite pleasant (no construction this year!) and we got to the Faire just before the gates opened for the day. We let the initial crowd surge through, and then went in, noting the many small changes that have been added to make the grounds more pleasant. These included fountains, flower beds, statuary, and other details that made the place seem more like a permanent installation. We noted the shade canopies over the new bleachers at the Tournament grounds with approval, but guessed correctly that the seats would fill up quickly.

The main activities at the Faire are shopping, eating, and taking in the various entertainments. We covered the entire grounds over the course of the day, but our only major purchases were at Blackheath Books near the end of the day, although I also got a good deal on a "sword frog" (the thing that attaches a scabbard to your belt) from a leather worker in "Shoplatch Lane" who also gave us a blow-by-blow description of his adventures at the Pennsic war. We stopped in to visit with artist Erin McKee, who's been a regular for years, but has decided to sell her shop, as she and her husband have decided to take a few summers off to do other things.

As to eating, I sampled a "giant brat" (very good, but usual bratwurst sized) and the turkey legs (also good). Georgie stuck with our usual standby, fish and chips from Maiden Voyage, which were up to the usual high standard. We washed the dust out of our throats with lemonade and "sassafras."

Of course, the whole fair is entertainment, and interacting with the various merchants, street workers, and passing performers is a great part of the fun. We happened to be in a great spot to catch one of the royal processions, who passed within arm's length of us, and we noted that the Court seemed to be both more numerous and particularly magnificantly dressed this year. The performances we took particular effort to catch were the Kaminari Daiko (Japanese taiko drummers--period, just not locally) and the Royal Falconer.

Kaminari Daiko gave a short but vigorous set, and seemed to be having a really good time. They did well, and it was a lot of fun to see and hear.

The Royal Falconer was working at the Tournament grounds with hawks, horse and dog, and his skillful assistant. As expected, the bleachers were filled, but we walked around behind the uninhabited Royal Box and leaned on the back rail, which gave us a good view and turned out to be an exciting spot. While working the falcons, a male perigrine chose to alight in the Royal Box, and landed not five feet from us. Very exciting. One of the Harris hawks also took a rest in the rafters above us. Not quite as thrilling as for the people seated on the grass who had one of hawks literally land right beside them, but good enough for us.

We ran out of steam about four PM and headed home, but it was a very good day.
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