Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Michigan Renaissance Festival = The Michigan Fantasy Faire

Welcome to the Michigan Renaissance Festival!
Okay, let's hear it - - go on and get it out of your system now. You know, the comments about me writing a post on such a farby, non-historical event as a Renfest. Ha! Even I call it the Michigan Fantasy Fair, for that's what it is! In fact, the day I attended in this year of 2013 – September 7 – we saw Captain Jack Sparrow, Gandalf, fairies & elves, talking bushes and trees, a leprechaun, and numerous performances by various musicians and comedy acts.
Not very Renaissance-y, but it was fun!
But I'm not new to attending. You see, we’d visited a number of times over the years, but once Civil War reenacting came into the picture, we pretty much stopped going.
Let’s jump ahead a few years after becoming a living historian and we decided to go back to the Renfest and enjoy some fun history.
All I did the entire time was notice all of the historical inaccuracies and, generally, feeling very disappointed in this supposedly history-laced event. I mean, seriously, fairies? Capt. Jack Sparrow? Shrek? Gandalf? And Boobs galore (yes, as in women’s breasts)!
I could not believe I actually use to like this!
I was as frustrated as all get out. I mean, I was hoping to become an eyewitness to medieval and/or renaissance life, you know?
So I returned home all grumbly and angry that I had wasted all of that money on tickets for my family and I to get in.
Until…well…until I overheard my kids talking about how much fun they had:
“That jousting was pretty awesome!”
“Those washerwomen were really funny!”
“I love the Zucchini Brothers!”
“We should make ‘soup-in-a-bread-bowl' sometime!”
And on and on and on…
They had a great time.
Why didn’t I?
After thinking about it for a bit, it kinda struck me that, despite its name, the RenFest is simply not meant to be a historical time-travel excursion to 15th and 16th century Europe as I had originally thought. One simply can’t think of it in the same way that a Civil War or Rev War reenactment is to their respective eras in time.
To be honest, I’m not sure what the Renfest is meant to be exactly, but definitely not an authentic time-travel experience. Maybe more like a mixing bowl of Lord of the Rings, Pirates of the Caribbean, Braveheart, A Knight’s Tale, Peter Pan, steampunk, gypsy, and a helping of Renaissance and Medieval Europe thrown in for good measure.
Gandalf from Lord of the Rings

Once I came to this realization, I allowed myself to enjoy it the next time we went.
And, a few years later, we did return.
And I had a blast!
We laughed at the comedy acts, we enjoyed the variety of music, we stared at people dressed like who knows what, and we bowed when the Queen passed by.
I even tried on steampunk clothing! Ah, but no pictures, doggonit! I wish we did  - it was pretty funny!
Yes, I saw Shrek, Gandalf, Capt. Jack Sparrow, faries, and even, believe it or not, some pretty authentic Renaissance-era looking people!
Hey---where’d they come from??
Yep – I now enjoy visiting this Michigan Renaissance Fantasy Festival every year, many times with other reenactor friends.
We never cease to have fun!
Posted here are a (quite a) few of the many pictures that I’ve taken over the years at the festival. I think you’ll see some good times here:

Here we go, into the Shire of Holly Grove

I thought this was a very inventive sign, even though I don't believe in using credit cards.

Let's begin our Renaissance journey seeing the unusual sights:
We saw fire-breathers!
And pirates! AR-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r-r!!
Human statues
Here we found a Leprechaun. But there were no rainbows to be found.

Where else would ye find a talking bush (except on Mt. Sinai)? Lucky for this leafy fellow, he wasn't burning.
These festively decorated plants didn't talk. I tried to get them to say something but they wouldn't. They were either too shy or they wanted me to leaf them alone.
We also saw a lady walking with a basket of flowers upon her head. She talked, but the flowers, alas, did not.

And here we have a mermaid. I asked her if she saw "Splash" but she just looked at me funny and 'flipped' me off.

Now we'll head to the entertainment portion of the festival

Bagpipes and drums.

This group called Tartanic could easily be played on a hard rock radio station.

As good as Tartanic is, hard rock radio should play them.
But they won't.
And then there is the ever bawdy Bocca Musica! Yes, that's my eldest son there, left of center, in his pirate clothing.
Here's a closer-upper photo of my son. Yeah, on the left. That's Coco on the right.

Ahhh! One of my favorite comedy acts, the now defunct Zucchini Brother!
These guys were, simply put, fantastic! Extremely talented jugglers and hilarious comedians.
Fair thee well, Zucchini Brothers. Ed Sullivan would have been proud!

The Washing Well Wenches climbed a roof and went fishing...for beer. There was a cup tied to that string and they would slide it down, hoping that someone would fill it with beer and then they'd reel it back up. It usually worked well.

You want to laugh your butt off? Then see the Washing Well Wench Show.  I see them every time I go.
These men do not know what they're in for with these two, ahem, ladies!
Over-ridden with grief over a lost love, Dottie flings herself into the pool to, suppose, drown her sorrows.
Yes, I was over-taken at the sight of these, er, beautiful women. (Actually, I just needed my laundry!)

Here is something a guarantee I will never do - caber toss! Ouch!!

This group, Circa Paleo, does an amazing job performing a cover of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir"
 Here, check it out:

Circa Paleo haven't been to the Michigan Renaissance Festival in a couple of years, but I'm hoping they return soon!
And, finally, a real live Renaissance musical group known as Musica Royale. They do honest, traditional Renaissance music, including "Early One Morning" (the theme from 1960's kids show, The Friendly Giant, on CBC TV)

A daily parade takes place. Many of the participants and vendors take up signs and march throughout the grounds of Hollygrove, hawking their wares and performances.

See the young lady holding the "Horns" sign? That's my daughter-in-law, who is married to my son who plays with Bocca Music (see photo somewhere above).

Yep –I have a very entertaining family!

Yes, there is also a jousting match, but my pictures have not turned out good enough to post. It is pretty cool, though.

I did, however, photograph a knight and his lady.

 Now, I saved the more authentically dressed RenFest folk for last (besides the knight and his lady above). I was pleased to see that there were people who really made a very good attempt to wear accurate clothing - at least as far as my untrained eye could tell. Huzzah to these good folk!

A milkmaid and her friend.

The Queen's court leads the parades for Her Highness
Bow down before the Queen knaves!

Our milk maid was very happy to see Her Majesty.

Her Majesty's a pretty nice girl but she didn't have a lot to say

Our final photo of our jaunt through the Michigan Renaissance Fantasy Festival shows me with my daughter-in-law.

Samm has multiple outfits she wears at RenFest, some more accurate than others. The unicorn horn on her head is not real. Neither is my Gettysburg shirt.

I hope that you enjoyed this "through the looking glass" sort of time-traveling. When you take the RenFest for what it is, you realize that it can be a pretty darn good time!



Karen~The Barely There Primitive Bear said...

Love your pictures of the Renfest! We used to go to a couple of big ones in Texas, so much fun! Thanks for sharing.

Mina Credeur said...

I really wish they'd call it the Fantasy Faire, too. As someone who makes costumes the idea of a total Renaissance event (like the Dickens ones I go to) would be awesome.

Mina Credeur said...

I really wish they'd call it the Fantasy Faire, too. As someone who makes costumes the idea of a true Renaissance event sounds awesome. Not sure why it bugs me so, I guess I just want it to be something else.

Historical Ken said...

A *real* Renaissance event would really be pretty cool.
We can still hope.

Dark Krystal Designs said...

Management can't control what the patrons wear nor dictate their costuming budget and/or sewing skill level. Unfortunately, a lot of mundanes just don't get that fact.

Dark Krystal Designs said...

Management has no control over what the patrons chose to wear, nor do they have the authority or desire to do so. Unfortunately, most mundanes just don't get that.