Thursday, August 16, 2012

Wicked Renaissance 2012

Last weekend, my mom and I visited The Bristol Renaissance Faire, which is on the border of Wisconsin and Illinois. This is something I look forward to every year, for many reasons. One of the reasons is that I get to see people dressed in fantastic costumes with really creative makeup.


Isn't this guy great? I don't remember ever seeing him before. He was just leaning against a tree when we found him. A little girl walked up and started to scratch his back and that's when I snapped this photo. He was gleefully snorting kind of like a dog who is getting its back scratched. I don't think I've ever seen false teeth like the ones he was wearing!


This guy was sort of a forest spirit type creature. I'm not really sure what he was, but his face paint was very cool. You can see a hint of a leaf painted on his jawline. He was hanging out in the wooded area where you can find a lot of fairies, and fantasy creatures slowly moving around.


I just love this man's hat! I don't believe he was hired by the faire, but what a costume! I managed to catch these two coming toward us as well.


We were sitting on a bench as they walked past, so I got a different angle tilting upwards.


Again, I'm not quite sure who we have here. He could be a swamp creature. He was moving about on a wood stage while sticking his tongue out at the kids. Like many people at this faire, he was good at posing for a photo while pretending not to see me.


I was calling this lady "The Renaissance Daisy Duck". She was new this time too. She was very friendly and came over to tell us her version of a nursery rhyme.


This little gargoyle was so cute and happy looking! He was being sold outside of a shop. There's tons of shopping at this faire! All the streets are lined with cool wooden structures with decorative hanging signs.


The lady in purple is portraying Queen Elizabeth I. We've had a few different Queens over the years. This one was pretty jolly as she danced. The man she's dancing with is a real character. I remember him talking with us last year. He must be a historian in his off time, because he knew so much Elizabethan history! He told us this history in the tone of a gossip.


While we took a break on a bench, an old hermit passed by. I didn't realize he had a hunched back until I took this picture. His back appears to be stuffed, at least I hope it is. Check out the top of his cane! That's another fun little detail I noticed after seeing this photo larger.


If I look at all worried here, it's because of who's sneaking up behind me!


See? I had reason to be afraid! Every good Renaissance Faire needs a dragon.


This is one of the lovely fairies I mentioned earlier. I love her hat! I think all the flowers are felted. She was interacting with some children and they seemed fascinated by her.


There was a Robin Hood play at the Faire and I got my photo taken with the villains afterwards. They were very friendly, though! Turns out I dressed to match their group.

I met some other nice guys at the Faire:


I think this one is a viking, although there was something pirate-like about his voice. I put my hand on his back for this photo, and I have to tell you, that fur cape was hot! Sometimes I think about how overheated these people are in their costumes on a hot summer day, especially the women in all those layers.


Here's another cool guy we ran into! He was a knight in the "Joust to the Death" we watch every year. When I say to the death, I mean it! At least, theatrically. There's loads of fake blood, axes being thrown, and swords on fire!


The man above was the one we were told to cheer for, because of where we were seated. The men in our section (which I took to calling the embarrassing section) merrily shouted this chant:

"Kill! Kill! Kill! Blood makes the grass grow!"

They loudly booed every opposing knight and screamed things like "Kill him! He's skinny!" I was just laughing and laughing, but some people took this battle dead seriously. One guy couldn't sit still through the battle and ended up hopping around in excitement! 


I saw this figure outside a crossbow tent and just had to photograph him. I yelled "Plague Doctor!" and immediately ran over. My mom was chatting a bit with a woman running the shop as I ran over to photograph him. I got close to his face as I talked to myself a little. I was saying things like "This is going to be so cool for my blog!" and "Let's get the right angle here." I was really concentrating and closing in maybe five inches from the beak when the thing lurched toward me! I mean the whole head shot forward right at my face! Evidently, this figure that had been standing still as a statue was actually a man in a costume. I screamed so loud "AHH! GAH!" and pointed my finger at him saying "YOU!" I felt a mixture of amusement and fear. This is the photo I took right before he lunged forward at me:


Looking at this now, I think I see the hint of his eye. Anyway, immediately after I yelled and pointed, he stopped moving. Everyone looked over, and probably wondered what my deal was. Later in the day I got my courage up and decided to go back to get my photo with him. I cautiously walked up and quietly said to him "Please be nice." I heard the girl in the shop say "Why is she talking to our Mannequin?" So I got to look nutty again!


He was nice and stood still this time. By the way, we stood and watched him for a good 10 minutes and he never moved for anyone else. I guess it was just my lucky day...


It was a little difficult to photograph these guys because of the light, but I still wanted to share this photo. Let's see if I can explain this... While we were walking through the faire, these people draped entirely in black came quickly moving through the crowd. Some of them were beating on drums. If you look closely, you'll see the bat hat on that second one. They didn't say a word, they just quickly moved. Every once in a while, they would stop and freeze in position. Right in the middle of the crowd. It was very creepy and almost hypnotizing. People began following these creatures without even knowing why!


This photo was taken as one froze in place. Eventually, they led us to the area where people dance in a drum circle.


How cool is this witch? She was such a character, but seemed very sweet. She was kind of lurking on down the street on her cane while looking around. I asked if I could have a photo with her and she said "Aye, Aye." She made a number of poses, so I had a few photos to choose from. As you can tell, I was really laughing here. If you look closely at the end of her hat, you'll see a little fish skeleton! 

I ran across a few videos of The Bristol Renaissance Faire on YouTube. This one is from this summer. It will give you an idea of the Faire's setting. It runs for around 15 minutes and contains some beautiful photos and music!

This next video gives a great, if graphic, view of the "Joust to the Death". You'll recognize the knight who was in the photo with me, although he sadly does not last long. I'm going to warn you that this is violent. Seriously, many blood capsules were used on this one! Besides the gore, you will get a chance to see the fiery weapons I mentioned. By the way, the villain doesn't normally win. So this is an unusual match. If you decide you can take this, you'll want to watch it full screen!

I was so excited to find this next video! It perfectly illustrates what it's like to walk alongside the dark clothed creatures of "The Death Parade". You'll also see some other very cool characters!


  1. I had not realized how running crazy I am until the first thing that struck me about these amazing photos- both the dog man and the swamp man are wearing running shoes made with toes and decorated to look like feet. This is ingenius. Wow. What a great costuming idea. Imagine the Hobbit feet you could make!!!

    This was a great post. I've never been to one of these faires, and now I really want to attend one. You look to be having so much fun!!!

  2. Looks like you had a great time and your photos are wonderful! (Sadly, my camera has just tragically decided to die. Sigh.) I viewed all the videos. I couldn't help laughing and thinking of your "embarrassing section" as I was watching the fights. "The Death Parade" was very cool! I'm assuming "The Renaissance Daisy Duck" was Mother Goose, especially if she was telling nursery rhymes.

    What happens to all the buildings when the faire is not on? Are they permanent structures that are used for something else? The location looks lovely with all the trees and greenery!

  3. Yes, indeed is does get hot under all the layers. I used to wear 3 layers with a wig to vend at Renaissance fairs. The plague doctor is adorable.

  4. It never fails to amaze me when I see people's Ren Faire pics that they look like they could have come from our local one here. Everything looks the same, the costumes, buildings and even the jousting.

    I used to go to ours every year with my friends. Sometimes we'd dress up in home made costumes, sometimes not but it was always fun.

    When I first saw The Renaissance Daisy Duck I immediately thought she was Mother Goose.

  5. Michigan's Ren Fest hasn't started yet, but we'll go when it does! It's so fun to people watch.

    I love the gargoyule! I have the same one sitting outside my back door at home. His name is Gary.

  6. This really took me back. I used to live in Chicago and made at least annual trips up to the Ren Fair. I even made a renaissance style dress one year. We don't have one anywhere near me in Boise. I loved the death parade, I had completely forgotten about that. Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  7. Wonderful!!! Great photos! And what a fantastic faire! I was so disappointed in the Ren Faire here in Colorado this year. I went two years ago & the place was full of wonderfully costumed people and vendors. Not so much this year. Love the dragon! :0)

  8. Pensive ~ OK, this is funny! I was actually thinking about you and your running shoes during the faire! I took a picture of a women in sort of a mystical maiden dress, with a pair of those blue running shoes peeking out from underneath her skirt! I took the photo with the intent of sending it to you, but the photos on my blog might show the shoes even better. I hadn't even realized that the swamp man was wearing those until I got home and loaded these photos onto my computer!

    I agree that you could make some outstanding Hobbit feet out of those shoes! Hey, I bet you're considering all kinds of costuming ideas for your shoes now. :)

    I bet there's a Faire for you to attend in your state. I've been watching videos on YouTube of Ren Faires in all different places. I forget, are you in Seattle or Portland? Maybe you aren't in either place, and I have that in my head for some reason. I was watching a video of a cool looking Faire in Washington state today. Yeah, we had tons of fun! I love the excitement of seeing all these creatures and characters.

    Little Gothic Horrors ~ Your camera died! Sorry to hear that. I bet you're on the hunt for a new one now. I think I'd go nuts without my camera. I'm kind of waiting for it to die. It has its issues. I used it so much that one of the buttons fell off...

    I only wish I'd videotaped some of these events! If you had seen/heard the men in "The Embarrassing Section" you'd be laughing so hard!

    Glad you took the time to watch all the videos. That fight scene was intense, hey? I loved how that Goth knight was really hamming it up out there. :) I couldn't believe him licking that fake blood off his knife!

    Believe it or not, it didn't hit me that she was playing Mother Goose! Dar! Haha, to me she was a duck. That nursery rhyme should have been a major clue...

    Yes, the structures are permanent. They're strong and made from wood and plaster. This Faire has been going for 25 years now, and as far as I know these same buildings have been there all this time. They have been for the past 15 years I've been going anyway!

    Yes, there's something very special about the location. You can really imagine being in this fantasy forest. Kenosha (where the Faire is set) is a rural area. So there was a large expanse of land to work with. There are many old trees to walk through, and they add a lot to the experience.

    After your question about the buildings staying up, I did a search to see if more events happen year round in this place. I've heard that some Ren Faires use their space for Halloween events. The only spooky event I could find had happened already! On August 4, there is an undead Ren Faire experience. I found some pics of a zombie Anne Boleyn from that day:

  9. Old Fashion Halloween ~ Oh! I want to see some photos of your outfit! What did you wear and what were you selling? I bet you have some stories! Finally someone mentioned The Plague Doctor. :) He's not so adorable when he's lunging forward at you with that beak!

    Dex ~ Would your Faire be The King Richard's Faire in Massachusetts? Well, there's one big difference there! You have a King while we have Queen Elizabeth presiding. I've been watching some Faires from various states today after reading your comment. There are certainly some similarities in the way people are dressed. There were fairies at every fair, as well as pirates. The settings were somewhat different. Texas and Colorado had some almost adobe like materials making up their buildings, and some Faires were out in a field. Mountains appeared in the background of the Montana Faire video. We are fortunate to have many old trees at our Faire, so it creates a forest-like setting. I saw a few variations in the jousting videos today. Some guys were riding work horses! The Colorado Faire looked heavier on the cool horse tricks. The Texas Faire had much more weaponry on display. These were differences that maybe no one else would notice. It's just that I've been to a lot of these!

    Oooh! Do you have some photos from your Faire experience? I'd love to see some if you do! What did you dress as? I mean to dress up every year, but somehow it never happens.

    As I said to Emma, it seems kind of Duh now that I didn't see her as Mother Goose. :)

    Lisa ~ I watched some videos from Michigan's Ren Faire today! I think I saw some Belly Dancing and some great Celtic music being performed. I'd love to see your photos if you go!

    Gary the Gargoyle! :) Very cute. He was one of the friendliest Gargoyles I've ever seen!

    Gone Feral ~ I wonder if we ever crossed paths? When did you attend the Faire? I've been going for the past 15 years, so it's possible we were there on the same day. But then, the Faire does run through a lot of the summer.

    Sorry to hear that there isn't a nearby Faire for you now. Yeah, The Death Parade is awesome! It's hard to explain, so I was glad to find the video. Even with that, I think you really need to experience it to understand how creepy cool it is. Glad you enjoyed this look back at the Faire. :)

    Jeanne ~ Thank you! :) Oh, it was great. Sorry to hear that your Faire went downhill. Would this be the one in Colorado Springs? I watched some videos from that one today. I was wondering if it had been at all affected by the fires. Maybe that's why it went downhill?

    I loved that dragon too! He was a fierce creature. I believe he was new this year.

  10. Looks like a really good faire. I've heard Bristol is a good one.
    That plague doctor is awesome.
    Glad you had fun!

  11. Yeah, and my camera died in the middle of preparing a post too! It didn't pass on quietly either. It was doing all sorts of crazy things during the death throes. The good news is that I managed to salvage enough pics for the post, although some of them I'm not 100% happy about. I will definitely be on the hunt for a new camera now. Not thrilled about spending the money, but hopefully we can get something a little better than the last one.

    The location for the faire looks lovely! I looked it up on a map. I'm getting quite the education in geography since I started blogging! :)

    The Undead Ren Faire sounds fun. Wouldn't it be great to go to a Halloween Town Faire, or something along those lines?!! With haunted houses, fake cemeteries, headless horsemen, ghosts and ghouls... I'd be in spooky heaven! Haha.

  12. Lady Bethezda ~ It was great! Yeah, I learned this year that our Faire is a sister Faire to one in New York and one in California. I think that group has a pretty good reputation.

    Yes, The Plague Doctor was a real highlight for me! There's something about people pretending to be mannequins/props that is so freaky.

    We had a wonderful time and can't wait to return next year!

    Little Gothic Horrors ~ Oh, that's terrible timing! I guess the only way the timing could have been worse would have been if you were on a trip or at a wedding! "It didn't pass on quietly either." :) Camera death throes? This I want to hear more about. Did it shake and rattle off the table or something? ;)

    I'm glad you were able to salvage some photos anyway. Well, maybe there would be some good camera deals on ebay or amazon? Do you know what brand you're looking for?

    Oh, I know exactly what you mean about the geography lesson. I never thought of geography as one of my strong suits, but since blogging I feel pretty confident in it! So you were looking at satellite pics of the Faire grounds on Google Maps?

    Yeah, it would have been cool to have been at the Undead Ren Faire. If this place did anything for Halloween, you know I'd be there! I guess some Faire groups do host Halloween events. If we could even be in this wooded area at night, it would be cool. I can just imagine those slow moving fairies creeping behind trees in the dark, not to mention The Death Parade! If that Plague Doctor lunged at me in the dark, you'd have to scrape me off the ground. :)

    They end the Faire at 7:00 PM each night, so it never gets too dark. That's probably the safest. The ground is rather lumpy and hilly with tree roots sticking up. Heck, I tripped over tree roots twice in the daylight! Plus lumpy ground + beer + metal weapons = Ouch!

    I love your Headless Horseman idea! Someone actually sent me to some October Sleepy Hollow events recently. There's this haunt called Horseman's Hollow, and it looks like it has real potential! I could probably get spooked enough walking through the woods in the dark while hearing horse hooves nearby. :)

  13. I must say that does look like a lot of fun. I know a few people from here make the trip up every year.

    Maybe I'll have to join them sometime. I could dress up like a Dead Knight Zombie.

    Have a great weekend!

  14. Great post as usual! I would love to go to one of these. You are lucky!

  15. It Came From The Man Cave ~ It was! I hadn't thought about how close you are to the Faire. I bet you're about as far south from Kenosha as I am north. You really should consider going with your friends some time. The Faire runs until the beginning of September, so you still have time to go this year. :)

    A zombie knight? Hey, there ya go! As I was saying in the comments above, there's an "Undead" day at the Faire. That happened on August 4. I saw photos of a few undead characters who were there that day. Do you already have a suit of armor?

    You have a great weekend too! I'm afraid this weekend won't involve Sven. You know my thoughts on tonight's movie. ;)

    wicKED ~ Thank you. :) We are so lucky to have this Faire relatively nearby. So much effort gets put into this one. You might want to check and see if there is a Ren Faire near you! They seem to have popped up in nearly every state.

  16. Oh wow what amazing pictures! I think I remember your pictures from last year's renaissance festival too! The guy at the top looks rather worrying, like some strange cross between a pirate and beast from xmen with his hair in little girls bunches.. very very odd!!

    The Plague Doctor has to be my favourite but I had to laugh at your story, you must have been genuinely shocked when he moved hahahaha! He was quite the prankster letting you talk to yourself, I bet he had a good laugh about it!

    The picture of you and the dragon is awesome, you look so cute and he looks so vicious, as if he is about to gobble up Justine the fair maiden! :p

    I watched the whole joust to the death and loved it! I would love to see something like that in real life, that is something else I love about America, you pull out all the stops at holidays and festivals and celebrate things to the fullest extent! The spurting blood was so cool! I liked how everyone cheered and laughed at the death of the knights but it is strange to think that back in the medieval times onlookers would have still cheered and laughed at real deaths at jousting tournaments! Kind of creepy! xxx

  17. Bella Morte ~ Thank you! :) I was actually thinking of you several times during the Faire, in part because you live in England. I was also remembering a time you went to a festival near the ruins of an old chapel. I was thinking how authentic the settings could be where you are, and wondering what you'd think while at our Faire. I'm glad to hear you approved. :)

    Now that you say that, the blue guy is reminiscent of Beast! It's interesting to read everyone's opinion, because there are some things I didn't see. Like I somehow missed that the woman telling nursery rhymes was Mother Goose!

    Oh yeah. The Plague Doctor genuinely shocked me, alright. He's probably my favorite too. It's been a while since I was so surprised/shocked! The last time was probably around three years ago, when a man in a Michael Myers costume slowly followed me down the street. He was always about a block away and moving really slow. Still he kept this up for several blocks. This was just in a neighborhood that puts out a lot of effort with their Halloween displays. I expected to just admire the houses, not deal with something like him! At first it was funny and then it got really eerie.

    Anyway, back to The Plague Doctor! Oh, I'm sure he was getting a good laugh under that hood and mask. He must have laughed quietly, since I never heard a thing. I'm sure he was at least smiling. Luckily, I was only saying complimentary things as I took the photos. I can only imagine what would have happened if I'd said rude things. :)

    Aww... Thanks for the dragon comment. Getting up into those teeth to take that photo reminded me of Jurassic Park!

    That Joust to the Death was intense, hey? So, you haven't been to such a bloody event? Actually, aside from watching these jousts each year, neither have I. Oh yeah, that blood really spurts! The audience is very outgoing, shall we say. ;) You've got a point, people were cheering for dead serious matches back in the day. If you think about jousts, gladiator matches, or even crowds gathering to watch an execution, it's hard to fathom. Watching people die was a source of entertainment! That's very creepy to me too...

  18. Amazing photos. Those costumes and the makeup are real works of art. I think my favourites are the woodland type creatures. I love the mythology behind things like sprites, fairies, elves and other spirits of the forest.


  19. Mrs. Grumblebug ~ Thank you! :) I agree. I'm sure a lot of time and effort goes into some of these costumes. One of the fun parts of the Faire is that the fairies/woodland creatures change each year. There are a few that come back every time, but there are always new ones in addition. This fantasy forest is just teeming with life. :)

  20. I love when you do the Renaissance fair post! I always look forward to your pictures and descriptions.
    I cannot tell you how many times I've watched the video of the Death Parade... CREEPY to the max. I'd love to have these guys wandering around my street Halloween night :)They are amazing :)Thank you so much for documenting your visit :)

  21. Countess ~ Wonderful! I'm so happy to hear that my updates are appreciated. :) Knowing that I'm collecting stories and photos for my blog, adds some extra fun to my outings!

    Yeah, The Death Parade is creepy in a subtle, mysterious way. There's something about not being able to see a person's eyes, or really much of anything else. You're left to wonder what they are! Those characters are almost like ghosts or living shadows. They're creepy enough while moving and making those noises, but when they freeze in place and are silent, you're left wondering what they'll do. At one point, we had so many surrounding us that my mom didn't even notice one standing directly next to her. The spookiest moment is when the silence ends and they spring to life!

    I can only imagine the scene they would create in the dark of night. Since they're entirely cloaked in black, they'd be nearly camouflaged. I bet they could spook a few people by parading down neighborhood streets at midnight on Halloween. :)

    I'm happy to share any interesting experiences I have. Thanks for stopping by and checking all this out!

  22. Terrific photos and videos!!! Looks like you had lots of fun!!

  23. Pumpkin Cottage ~ Thank you! :) I'm glad you enjoyed this one. We had a great time! It's worth checking for a Renaissance Faire in your area. I have a feeling that anyone reading this would enjoy going!

  24. Wow! Has time flew by. I remember your pictures from last year's renaissance festival! ^_^ I love your pictures & you look so pretty! I absoultely love the first picture! That guys costume is awesome. I don't really remember where he's from. I thought he was from Star Wars/Star Trek but then again he looks like this character kinda from the movie Little Monsters made in the 80s!

  25. Real Queen of Horror ~ Thanks so much for your sweet comments. :) It's funny timing to hear from you today, because I was just thinking of you this morning. I have no idea why. It just occurred to me that I hadn't read your blog/watched your reviews in a long time! I'll check in tonight and see what you've been up to.

    I just googled "Little Monsters" and I sort of remember it. Fred Savage was so young! I can see what you're saying about the crazy looking blue monster. I don't think I ever watched the movie, but I've definitely seen some clips from it.

  26. Some of these costumes look like Halloween or modern horror movies - that's interesting! We have a lot of stuff like this where I live, I'm starting to feel inspired to go! Or, guilty 4 not going!

  27. Count Matt ~ Yeah, not all the costumes are Renaissance themed! In the past, I've seen a lot more people in what appeared to be Halloween costumes. There are still quite a few witch hats to be found.

    Do you happen to know the names of any of the events near you? I've been looking up Ren Faires from around the U.S. on YouTube lately. It's fun to see how each state does theirs. So if you know the names of your local events, I'll look them up.

    I think you should go check out one of these events if you ever get the opportunity. You'd find some great people watching and entertainment!

  28. Justine - Yes, this whole year I've spent on twitter and blogger has really made me more excited about Halloween and events. I'm really looking forward to the Holiday Season. I've heard of a Ren Faire advertised at a beautiful place called Casa De Fruita. I've never gone. I would think it would be in Monterey County or San Benito County (CA).

  29. Count Matt ~ I know what you mean! I feel like there's a Halloween energy starting even earlier this year online. The Halloween craft and building ideas are all over!

    I just watched a few videos from the Casa De Fruta Renaissance Faire. This one is my favorite video of all. Such a beautiful collection of photos:

    I'm wondering if this is the California sister Faire to our Ren Faire. I heard there are sister Faires being run in California and New York.

  30. Justine - Yes those photo's really capture the spirit of the thing don't they. Great reference for that type of thing which is very cool. I always liked Knights of the Round table movies! Your tweet of that video was in my paper today as well. I think they have a website which might tell about the networking of it

  31. Finally had a moment, what with arranging all the buys for the costume shoppe, to stop by read your recent. Fabulous description and great pictures because I can't be there, but I felt like I was. I'm linking our blogs as I write the Best of Halloween Shopping 2012 and wanted to include you as "inspiration". Se you round Twitter.

  32. I didn't know you went there. We were there last year. (Wis) We actually got invited by the Queen and Phool because while we were at C2E2, we saw someone drop their Dr Who autographs. My girlfriend's was to find them. We were luck enough to find them when they came back. The queen and phool invited us to Bristol. It was really nice of them.. I have alot of the same photos like you.

  33. Mark ~ How crazy that you were there too! You live in Illinois, right? Bristol is kind of on the border between us. Do you usually go to that Ren Faire? Going there is a tradition I look forward to every summer. So you got a special royal invitation! Was it the Queen or Phool who lost that autograph or did they witness you guys returning it to someone else?