A few weekends ago I finally got to go to the Brooks Renaissance/Medieval Faire. I had wanted to go last year, but missed out because of timing (not being a driving-sort makes a big difference as to which events I can go to – especially ones that are two hours out of town!). This year, however, I got to go!
Years ago I was interested in the SCA – but when the friend I had in the SCA moved away, that interest waned. But, that does mean I have boxes full of (reasonably) appropriate clothing!
So first up – what I wore…
- White linen t-tunic with red yarn couching in a vaguely Turkish style (yes, underwear as outerwear – it was hot!)
- Brown belt – in a pattern that is similar to what you could get using card weaving
- Peach/green semi-sheer veil
- Faux blackwork purse/reticule
All in all – NOTHING that would actually be worn together if I was aiming for period – rather than “feels period-ish”. Since I had no idea how dressed-up guests would get, and very little access to my stash due to the never-ending reno project, I was happy with what I picked out. Since the website talked about people dressing as gypsies and pirates and fairies…. I figured that my costume choices would have a pretty wide latitude.
The Faire itself
Having been to a few SCA events, I think that I had more of that in mind. At my first event, 12th Night, there was a large banquet, loads of people (all in impressive dress) and it seemed like a lot of activity. At Tavern it was less so on all counts, but still interesting. At the two war/camp events I went to – there were workshops, vendor areas, food areas, encampments, and just a lot of overall activity. There were very few people in ‘mundane’ modern clothing, and everyone was dressed up. Still, from reading online, I figured that the “Renaissance faire” model was a bit different – so while I sort of knew the overall mood of what to expect, I didn’t really know the details.
All in all, the Faire was somewhat underwhelming. We arrived for the last few jousting matches – which was kind of cool, but I had expected more pageantry with that. We wandered to the arts and crafts area which featured perhaps 5-6 artists – although some of the artwork was very nice, the overall selection felt as though it’s inclusion had been a bit of an afterthought. Only a few of the artisans were working in styles that suited the event. (One artist who was working with charcoal/pencil, doing sketches of dragons and knights.) From there we pretty much blinked and missed a food area – hot dogs and ice cream… and went to the vendor area – with largely theme-appropriate offerings, and a few that weren’t so theme appropriate. From there we wandered down to the locations of two encampments (the only ones on site), then watched two women do some cabaret-style belly dancing, and four guys (two at a time) do some heavy combat. While we had a Hawaiian Shave Ice, we watched a woman do a little puppet show. From there we were ready to go, and passed the petting zoo – comprised of two miniature horses, two sheep, and a goat.
Perhaps my expectations were just overly high. Am I putting unrealistic expectations coming from a ‘big city’ perspective onto an event planned by folks in smaller towns? Do the camping events I have been to just by their nature have more “things” because of all the encampments (and thus, with all of those people staying on-site all weekend, more need for things like food vendors, taverns, etc)? Maybe the lack of workshops/classes is what helped me get more in the mood before? (Not to mention, make it possible to talk to people and socialize.)
Overall, although it was interesting – I don’t think that I’d make it a destination again. Perhaps fleshing it out as a day trip to include a visit to Dinosaur Provincial Park (with a chance to change in between!) might make the two hour drive each way more worthwhile?
What do you think? Have you been to the Brooks Faire before? How do you think it stacks up compared to other faires or SCA events?