We chose a perfect day for the trip. Most of Bristol is covered with trees, so the sun is no impediment to spending hours outdoors for those of us who do not crave a dark tan. The high temperature never got much above 80°F, so heat wasn’t an issue either.
After attending plenty of such faires over the years, and having worked as the Assistant Entertainment Director for the Michigan Renaissance Festival, I’ve learned a thing or two about pacing myself for a long day at such an event. Anyone who walks into a Ren Faire and rushes about trying to cram fireworks into every moment is going to cheat themselves out of a lot of what makes these faires wonderful. First of all, they’re probably going to burn out after a few hours. Secondly, they may come to the conclusion that they just don’t care for such events, when the truth is they haven’t really experienced it. Most importantly, they will miss a vital factor about a place like Bristol – it isn’t merely a collection of acts and shops; it’s an environment. You need to spend a goodly part of your day walking slowly, smelling the air, listening to the foolishness, watching the people, letting the faire into your soul. For all the noise and occasional bombast of the place, it’s an essentially gentle environment that will not get into your face and demand acceptance. If you can let your feet sink into the dust of the place, though, you will be rewarded.
In past years, I’ve posted quite a few photos from Bristol, so I’m going to be restrained this time around. I have only four to post today, and they share a common theme – they all feature non-humans.
This is a lemur. Though they are native to the island of Madagascar, this one has somehow been carried across the waters to Bristol. He was being led around on a leash by a young woman who stopped long enough for this quick shot, though the lemur himself never stopped moving for more than a moment.
That’s CC on the back of a camel. She reports that this was her first time aboard one of these “ships of the desert.” She also reports that the camel, whose name was Eli, was amazingly hot and that sitting on him was akin to sitting on a running engine. But this was still a major thrill for her. And for Eli, I can only assume.
Several times a day, there is a wonderful exhibition of hawks and falcons. A team of highly trained bird handlers demonstrate the predatory techniques of these magnificent raptors. They fly above the audience’s heads and swoop down on their prey with delightful speed and agility. Afterward, the audience is allowed to see them up close. This is a Harris’s Hawk, native to a long swath of the Western Hemisphere from the southwestern U.S. down to South America. He is wearing a hood here, which deprives him of sight and causes him to become docile. One look at his beak and talons should convince you of the value of putting such a creature into a docile state.
Finally, this is one of the beautiful show horses that performed for us. I took this photo just to display the flashy eye makeup she wore that day. I’m sure it makes her feel very pretty (though just between you and me, she’s kind of a horse-face).