Renaissance Fair

Part carnival, part dress-up, part arts and crafts, with a generous dose of goofiness and good cheer, I give you some images from the Chippewa Valley Renaissance Faire.

Last year, C missed the Renaissance Fair because I flew her down to Arizona to take her up to Sedona. At the end of a long suburban road, fair maidens and doughty lads are wearing splendid finery, all a-sporting and carrying on most medieval-like.


The actual Renaissance was a spotty thing, appearing only in a few cities and within the courts and universities. All around, the Dark Ages would continue as they had for centuries. The darkness would continue well into the 20th century, until Czar Nicholas II would finally free his serfs, too late to save his empire. Yet the Renaissance lives on in the hearts of nostalgic tourists and dreamers, not as it truly was of course, with religious wars and the bitterness of the feuding nobles and the overarching stench of a world before the flush toilet, but in a few romantics and silly, beautiful people.


The Renaissance looked back to a golden age of the Greeks and Romans, as sweetly burnished as our own view of the Renaissance from the 21st century. Perhaps only the distance of time allows us to extrapolate such fantasies: the farther back they go, the lovelier they become until at last we arrive in the paradise of Eden, where we were once naked and unashamed.


Why do the legends of Arthur and Lancelot still move us? Though we think of the legends of Arthur through the lenses of twee old Tennyson, I am told the heyday of the Arthur legend was the Tudor era, itself become something of a cliché and stereotype. The Tudors claimed to be descendants of King Arthur and we’re pretty sure the Arthur depicted on the Round Table at Winchester is Henry VII. Pursuing Arthur is the most pointless of all historical enterprises and yet not a generation has gone by since the earliest glimmers of the Renaissance without a revival of Arthur. Perhaps the wisest approach to such stories is to give them free rein to gallop. The present will become its own collection of myths, given enough time. We are such stuff as dreams are made of.


I haven’t read fantasy or science fiction in many years. Tolkien spoiled me for further reading in the genre: C gobbles this stuff up. Maybe I’ve become a snob. Let me revise that, I’m pretty sure I have become a snob. Still, I have a soft spot in my heart for this Renaissance Fair sort of thing. It reminds me of the sweet girls who loved fairy stories and the long-ago boy I was who kissed a few of them.




We'll go walking out

while others shout

of war's disaster.

Oh, we won't give in,

let's go living

in the past.
















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Great pictures as always


Brings back memories of the few times I went to the Atlanta RenFaire. I might have to go back this year, if I'm free on a day when the temperature's tolerable.

The other day I heard that ignorance and apathy are sweeping the country. I didn't know that, but I don't really care.

I could see a few Forvmites at the Varlet Convention



Note the drinking cup attached at the belt.  A dire necessity at turns.   Heaven knows if one might encounter a beer wench.

Highly interesting, but shouldn't this be the Crusades Fayre

mmghosh's picture

rather than the Renaissance?  Were they still jousting in front of cannon?


Here's something you might be interested in from the same-ish era, I can't embed, though.

I think "Renaissance" just sounds cooler


They are not noted for rigorous dedication to historical accuracy. Costumes, beer, and bad accents, mostly.

The other day I heard that ignorance and apathy are sweeping the country. I didn't know that, but I don't really care.

Jousting continued for many years as an ornamental thing


long after knights were of any practical use in warfare.   So popular was jousting the Pope excommunicated folks for it.   Kings tried to put down the custom, too.   It was no use, jousting remained popular and continues to this day.


The jousters at this year's fair were professional stunt riders, but in years past, actual jousting competitions were held at Chippewa Valley.   Enormous Friesian warhorses are bred and trained for jousting.


It's the state sport of Maryland


For some reason.


They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist...
-- General John B. Sedgwick, 1864

What it is about men, horses and lances, I'll never figure...

mmghosh's picture

but hilarious point, well made.


We have this semi-military sport called tent-pegging, very popular it is too.  Men, horses, lances etc...also elaborate turbans!


[quote]The most widely accepted theory[5] is that the game originated in medieval India as a training tool for cavaliers facing war elephants. A cavalier able to precisely stab the highly sensitive flesh behind an elephant's toenail would cause the enemy elephant to rear, unseat his mahout, and possibly run amok, breaking ranks and trampling infantry.[/quote]



Fascinating. Live and learn, eh?


One more, of swordfighting.

The colours are amazing.

mmghosh's picture

I guess they must work with authentic colours and fabrics - I know what enthusiasts can be like, as hobbesist mentions. Ah, finally got the embed to work - a modern study of the the Mongol composite recurved bow vs the longbow.  Why Babur won against the plainsmen, but could not best the Uzbeg.

Picasa does a great job of rendering lightweight images.


How I ever managed without Picasa I'll never know.   I did some dress up with Corel PaintShop Pro, a one-step improver script I wrote in Python. 


Some days this camera loves me.  Other days it just craps all over me.   I never know until I get them out of the camera if they'll work.    But if you like this sort of thing, here are a few more.  Hell, I can't resist.





I identify strongly with gypsies

mmghosh's picture

our application is called 'romany' for that very reason.  Great pix!


Aside on gypsies: many years ago, we visited Spain - Jerez de la Frontera to be exact, and went to a local feria filled with gypsies.  It was amazing to be standing amongst people who looked exactly like us, and yet were speaking Romani and Spanish. And later we went with some friends to a flamenco rehearsal - and it was kind of spooky to hear the same nasally intonated minor key ragas that I heard from the itinerant singers in the trains in Bihar - but in Spanish!

I wonder what it is


That makes them such a cohesive and enduring tribe. Why didn't they assimilate into their European communities after so many centuries?


Really, the only parallel I can think of is the Jews, and the cultural and religious mechanisms that make them that way are well known. What is it about the Roma that yields similar results?

"I don't want us to descend into a nation of bloggers." - Steve Jobs

South Asians don't assimilate well. Italy - full of Bangladeshi

mmghosh's picture

is the latest example.


[quote]But this wasn’t the usual weekend soccer league. Instead, the players, almost all from South Asia, were dressed in white pants and V-neck sweaters, or black jerseys — and they were playing cricket. Piazza Vittorio, a scrappy young team named after an ethnically diverse neighborhood in Rome, was facing off against Green Bangla, the presiding champions of an amateur cricket tournament now in its third year in the Rome area.

The match was held in the grassy center of a former dog track that had been transformed into a cultural association. Its stadium walls were covered in colorful graffiti. Broken beer bottles were scattered across the parking lot; nearby, families stood under a hot midday sun picking through mounds of used clothing piled near a garbage bin.<

In these edgier patches of the city, whose schemers and dreamers were immortalized in the early 1960s by the film director Pier Paolo Pasolini, a new Rome is taking shape. It is filled with Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, Pakistanis, Indians and other immigrants who are quietly transforming the texture of one of Europe’s most homogeneous cities, blending their own traditions with a Roman accent.[/quote]

Hitler almost completely exterminated the Romany


I believe more Romany were murdered on a per-thousand basis than even the Jews.    I have both admiration and deepest contempt for the Romany of Germany.   At the Munich Hauptbahnhof, I was accosted by a gang of Romany boys who mobbed me and attempted to steal my wallet and shoulderbag.   I caught one of them and crushed every metacarpal in his right wrist under my heel.   That's one boy who won't steal again.


I don't know how rigorously different fairs


avoid anachronism, but my impression is that they usually go for a consistently Elizabethan feel.  I haven't been to one since I was a kid, but I have a friend who does a lot of work for one out in the Seattle area -- they coach the people who work & volunteer there on proper modes of speech & dress & all that jazz.  My sense is that they avoid anachronism as far as possible.

A man must be orthodox upon most things, or he will never even have time to preach his own heresy.


I always thought


Running a varlet parking service at one of these would by incredibly funny. No one has ever agreed with me.



They couldn't hit an elephant at this dist...
-- General John B. Sedgwick, 1864

Especially the pronunciation.


"You mistake me, sirrah! I am a varlay."

"Hell is truth seen too late." --Thomas Hobbes

Not funny ha-ha


... but that's pretty funny :)

A man must be orthodox upon most things, or he will never even have time to preach his own heresy.


This fair was all over the historical map, loads of eras.


A few more.  Call it Operation Just Cause.   Cause I can.







Happy to see someone post about this subject in a non-ironic or critical way.


I love humanity, and I think you do as well.

C says I'm only really alive when I'm behind my camera.


She's telling me I could go from town to town, just making picture books of the places.    Give me 48 hours in any burg on this planet and I'll have 200 images and give me a coffee shop and I'll give you a story.

Blaise, if this isn't on the FP by 1600 EDT,


I'm putting it there myself.


Nicely done, once again.

"I've been on food stamps and welfare.  Anybody help me out?  No!" Craig T. Nelson (6/2/2009)