Chuck (charlesofcamden) wrote,

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Faire Weather Friends

On Sunday, I made what has become my annual trip to the Bristol Renaissance Faire, just across the Wisconsin border due north of Chicago. And I do mean just across the border – you could walk from the Faire into Illinois and back again before the Queen’s Guard had time to raise a general alarm in the kingdom. After so many weeks of hot, humid weather here in the Midwest, I’m happy that we waited until closing weekend of the Faire to go – partly cloudy and moderate temperatures made it an ideal day to spend hours traipsing around outdoors.

I’ve posted photos and stories from Bristol a couple of times in past years, and I don’t want to repeat myself, so this year’s collection is a bit more quirky and off-the-beaten-peasant than usual. This first shot depicts one of the most friendly and agreeable pirates you’re likely to come across. Pirates, to make a general statement about their profession, tend to be avaricious, gruff, distrustful sorts. Perhaps that’s why this particular pirate finds himself off the ship and running a rope ladder game at the Faire.

While there are, as you might expect, thrilling jousting exhibitions at the Faire, there are also quieter, more edifying equestrian shows, such as this one, “Spirit of the Stallion.” Various time-honored riding maneuvers are demonstrated, while the fellow on foot gives the audience a running commentary of the technique and history behind them, along with near-poetic essays on the relationship between rider and horse.

Afterward, rider and horse came to the rail and spoke to the children who crowded in as close as they could. For just a moment, your humble photographer slid to the front to capture this shot before stepping back and letting the kids take over.

Yes, there are a few rides available at the Faire, although, true to the pre-industrial era in which the Faire is set, no motors are used. This ride, which whips eight children at a time round and round, is entirely propelled by these two energetic young men, who work these gears and then let such old-time principles as inertia and centrifugal force take over.

There were plenty of creatures other than horses on display as well. Here we see an alpaca, a donkey, a llama, a zebra, and a mother/daughter pair of humans.

For an extra $2, one may enter the torture chamber. It consists of a dark corridor that takes one past a series of rooms, each of which contains a different ghastly torture device. I’d never forked over the two bucks to do this before, so I was a first-timer. Some of the devices shown were truly nasty, including one that induced rats to burrow into the abdomen of the person being tortured. Ick. Shown here is the scariest, though not most impressive, rack on display at the Faire.

More animals! One of the coolest shows is the one put on by the Royal Falconer. These amazing birds fly so fast, so high, and so far that there is little point in trying to photograph them during the show (at least with my camera), but I had the good fortune to encounter the Falconer afterward and he allowed me to photograph his now-hooded birds. The first shot here is of two hawks, and the second is of a falcon.


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