The Faire and the Fair
Saturday the 2nd was a good day to garb up and head down to Bristol
Renaissance Faire, where we spent a pleasant morning and afternoon
strolling the grounds, chatting with our friends in the court and the
shops, inspecting the merchandise, and taking in the shows. We got good
seats for the early tournament, which included some jousting this year.
(In years past, the first show would have a bit more of the knights'
exercises, tilting at the hoops, etc., but you had to come back later
for jousting.) We ended the day with a concert by Serenata, a group that
gave us a lively, beautiful, and often funny selection of Italian
Madrigal singing. In between we ate fish and chips at Ship of Fools,
listened to the street musicians (harpist Sarah Mullen and hammered
dulcimer player Glenn Morgan are among our favorites) and ogled a lot of
lovely goods. By the time we left for the day, the grounds were well
crowded, which makes me feel that the faire proper is doing all right in
these hard times, but I wish I could feel as good for the merchants, as
traffic in the shops seemed pretty slow.
On August 6th, I took off from work and we went to opening day of the
Wisconsin State Fair with our friend Chris Madsen. This was the first
time we had ever gone on opening day, and the differences were
interesting. Since we arrive in the morning, there was quite a lot of
set-up still going on, and actually, well into midday, it was still
relatively quiet. (When things are at full swing, it seems like every
restaurant and concessionaire has different music blaring which can be
quite cacophonous--.) There are also differences from day to day in
what animals are on exhibit, and we were interested to see heifers in
the cow barns rather than the mature cattle that are in later in the
fair. In the sheep barn, we saw unsheared rams (the largest sheep we've
ever seen) rather than the shorn yearlings that show up later.
Of course, one of the major attractions of the fair is the food: I
joined Chris for breakfast with an excellent omelet from the poultry
producers, and we lunched on the delicious rib-eye sandwiches from the
beef producers (Georgie opted for a lamb sandwich) followed by locally
made ice cream topped with Wisconsin fruit. We bought strudel from
Helmut's to take home, and skipped the cream puffs as usual since
neither of us really care for them.
One thing that was rather dissatisfying was that the arts and crafts are
now crammed into one of the smaller old building along with the flower
arranging and the fruits and vegetables. While we could still get a good
view of the decorated cakes and baked goods, and the quilts hung from
the rafters, the other handicrafts are so jumbled together in the
display cases that trying to find a particular item in a reasonable
period of time is impossible. One of our friends had won a blue ribbon
for her knitted shawl and we would have liked to have paid homage, but
couldn't find it.
As ever, it's a good day in the sunshine and (reasonably) fresh air at
the Fair (or the Faire).