Step back in time with The Bristol Renaissance Faire


KRT / Michael Tercha / Chicago Tribune

Ann-Elizabeth Shapera, entertains the crowd as Jane the Fool at the Bristol Renaissance Faire outside Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Mary Segall, Opinion Editor

Huzzah! Do you enjoy pirates, fairies, steampunk, knights and some Game of Thrones? The Bristol Renaissance Faire is the largest in North America, letting the creativity run wild from people designing intricate costumes, to creating shows that provide the fellow faire goers with quality entertainment.  

I go every year with my husband. This year was our first year in costume and it really heightened the experience for us. Everything is so realistic to what life was like back then you get immersed in it, and it is like you are in a different world while you are there.  

If you have never been, I am here to tell you about the absolute best things to see at the Renaissance Faire to provide an optimal experience for your first visit. 

Let us start with a big part of what people come to any place for, food! There is such a variety for anyone. There are portabella bangers, garlic mushrooms, grilled pork ribs, cheese fritters, grilled chicken on a stick, greek salad, fresh cut curly fries, coconut shrimp, onion rings, bread bowl soup, pizza pies, turkey drumsticks the size of your head (no lie), fish ‘n chips, Spanish fries, crepes, vegetable tempura, monkey tails (chocolate covered banana on a stick), pickles, steak on a stake, pork chop, baked potato, bacon cheeseburger nachos, cornish hen, beef jerky, pasties, pretzels, brats and so much more!  

Shows go on several times a day at the Faire. Some of my favorites include the jousting tournament with Lady of Chivalry, archers joust on real horses in a real competition of speed and accuracy. There are usually two or three of these shows a day, the last is always The Queen’s Joust which is the most popular. The King and Queen on the Faire do show up to watch the jousting.  

I also enjoy The Whip Fire Show, it is what it sounds like, a guy has a whip that lights on fire and whips it around. But it is so entertaining because it is not something we get to see every day and the passion and sheer talent people have is unbelievable! There are different shows going on constantly, so it is hard to see them all. Plan accordingly which one you really want to see is my best advice to you.  

There are games of course. What would a Faire be without games to play right? Games there include hitting a target with throwing knives, axe throwing, throwing stars, darts, crossbows and standard archery. Test your skills and see if you could make it as an archer back in ye ole days!  

While I was there, I tried the throwing stars and scored three out of eight hits… not great, but better than expected. I got two of the throwing knives to stick in the target, that was out of five.  

I wanted to do the axe throwing, but there is just so much to see and do. It is hard to do it all in one day. Make sure you see the guy who insults you and you get to throw tomatoes at him. It is so much fun and he throws some good insults, so consider yourself warned. This game is not for someone who gets easily offended.  

While you are there you may run into a pirate, a knight, plague doctors, peasant women, men-at-arms, shield maiden, a geisha, barbarians, Dothraki, Daenerys Targaryen, a few different anime characters were walking around and many more! You can dress up and be someone who you would never normally be for a day and go back in time, in a matter of speaking of course. I went as a bar maiden.  

What would a faire be without shopping! There are so many different vendors with everything from handmade pewter jewelry, handmade leather corsets for costumes, an armory with swords, fails and many other weapons. There are vendors that offer only fairy wings, elf ears and mushroom people costumes. It’s a bit pricey, but a lot of items are handmade, and you can pay for them on-site.  

You can get a dragon pet to sit on your shoulder, which is a puppet that you can make move, or a nice, painted leather mask to go with a dragon costume or a fair maiden costume. There are vendors that have homemade honey and aromatherapy also. Enjoy walking around and shopping while the vendors speak and talk as well as dress like you were back in ye old times. 

The Bristol Renaissance Faire is an amazing experience. Immersing yourself in such a world can make you forget that you’re not in that culture all the time. Take a step back in time and live life like they did back in the day. I cannot wait to go back next year and the year after. They put on a good show with quality entertainment for the entire family to enjoy. So, throw on your fairy wings or grab your shield and sword and enjoy a day back in time.