This is the first time I have attempted to keep blog. After much consideration, I have decided that my first post will be an introduction to a favorite pastime of mine: Renaissance Faires. RenFaires (as they are affectionately coined within the faire circuit) are a mixture of living history and fantasy roleplay. I received my introduction into the world of faire in 1993, at one of the original faires: The Northern California Pleasure Faire. My local faire–the Great Lakes Medieval Faire (GLMF)–is located near the shores of Lake Erie, in Geneva, Ohio.
So just what is a RenFaire? For me, it is the opportunity to escape the present day, to lose myself in the sights and sounds of a loosely interpreted version of history. Like the mythical land of Brigadoon, Avaloch (the name of the shire in which GLMF is set) springs to life just once a year, in the early weeks of July. For the next 6 weekends I travel north to meet up with like-minded friends. Most of us dress in historically inspired garb; I make most of my garb myself, but appropriate clothing is also offered for sale by the vendors working at the faire. I like that I can be a gypsy one week, and a lady-in-waiting or a Duchess the next. Occasionally, I can even become a pirate for a day or two.
One of my favorite aspects of the faire is the opportunity to be entertained by unique artists, such as world musicians, belly dancers, dueling sword fighters, and even royal jousters. There are also vendors selling food items, as well as crafters selling a mixture of items from clothing, armor, and weaponry; to jewelry, incense, home decorating items, and much more. The atmosphere is unlike that at any other fair or festival type setting.
Because a RenFaire is a living history venue, it is also interactive. Those who attend have the choice of enjoying the faire as a patron–i.e., the usual touristy attendee–or they can attend as a “playtron.” Playtron is a word unique to the faire that describes someone who is both a player and a patron. By dressing in period clothing, a playtron lets the faire cast know that he or she is open to interaction. As a playtron, a faire attendee has the opportunity to essentially become a part of the entertainment.
Alas, also like the mythical land of Brigadoon, the shire of Avaloch only exists for a brief time. After the six week ends of faire, the vendors pack up their wares, roll up their flags, and move on to the next town on their agenda.
If you have the opportunity to attend a RenFaire near you, I hope you will stop in and enjoy the day! Use the “Find a Faire” link on the right to locate a faire near you!
Link to Avaloch, home of the Great Lakes Medieval Faire: www.medievalfaire.com