It's that time of year again. While thousands of people flocked towards Chicago over the weekend for music, dancing, and mosh pits, my husband, Mike and I fled to the north for costumes, crafts, and mud pits!
We took our annual trip to the Bristol Renaissance Faire. Normally we visit for just a day, but this year we decided to make a whole weekend of it.
I just love the atmosphere of the faire. Walking outside on the dirt roads, surrounded by trees and flowers, with the sun beaming down on us, and street performers at every corner...it was both relaxing and exciting.
Cosplaying at a convention is fun, but costuming at a ren faire is an experience. There's just something perfectly awesome about walking around a medieval village as a wizard.
Mike and I both had new costume this year. He was a Mage Apprentice the entire weekend, and I wore a sort of "villager" costume on Saturday, and my Merlin inspire costume on Sunday (If you haven't seen the BBC's Merlin TV series, I definitely recommend you watch it on Netflix now! I'm completely obsessed with the show).
We went to the faire with no particular schedule in mind. If we happened to stumble upon a performance, we would stop and watch, but we spent most of the day just popping in and out of shops, eating delicious food, and enjoying the whimsy of it all.
Last year Mike bought this incredible handcrafted staff from a shop called Seekers & Settlers. He let me borrow it for a wizard costume last Halloween, and I've been having staff envy ever since.
So this year I had to buy an awesome staff of my own. One thing I love about Seekers and Settlers is that they have staves and walking sticks that range anywhere from $28-$160+. So there's something for every price range.
Trekking through the faire with staff in hand just felt so right. Lots of people asked where they could buy walking sticks like our, and we directed them to the shop.
We also ran into this incredible group of guys from a troupe called The Banner of St. Michael. They're a group of living historians, that go to different events, sharing information through historical demonstrations and reenactments.
They showed us how to play an old dice game. I can't remember what it was called, but you place your coin on one of the cards, and if your number comes up on the dice you get two coins back. Mike did end up winning, and he shared his spoils with me.
After spending the day at the Faire, we ordered pizza, and did a Pathfinder dungeon crawl (that was way too tough for just two characters). Since this was just a single adventure we were doing just for the fun of it, we created new characters.
Mike was an Elf Alchemist, and I was a Catfolk Monk. Mike altered a D&D adventure to work with the Pathfinder rules, and we used the Legend of Drizzt cavern tiles as our gaming map.
My dice were not good to me for most of the encounters. I did get an impressive critical hit that completely obliterated a zombie, but most of the time my d20s were rolling low during combat. Both our characters almost died, but it was a lot of fun, and we couldn't stop laughing. It was great! Nothing like a little tabletop gaming to get geared up for another day at the Faire.
Day two of Bristol was great. I didn't have a dress to step on, and there were a lot more people out on Sunday. We were going to see The Queen's Joust, but the stands filled up early, and we couldn't get seats. So we just did some exploring, somehow finding shops that we missed on Saturday. There are a lot of incredible craftsmen and artist who sell their wares at the faire.
We definitely love supporting these small businesses. I was surprised to find that some of my favorite vendors at the faire don't have websites, or only sell their stuff at Bristol. So it's sort of neat having something you can only get at the Bristol Renaissance Faire.
I tried honey mead for the first time, and it was simply delicious. Honey mead is a wine made from fermented honey and water. Many people say mead is the oldest alcoholic drink known to man. It tastes very sweet with a little kick, and I'm definitely a fan. You can easily get drunk on this tasty stuff.
Another delicacy I tried for the first time at the Faire were beignets. With my obsession with The Princess and the Frog, you would think I would have tried these sweet treats sooner. Before we left the faire on Sunday, we bought a plate.
As always, we had a blast at Bristol. I recommend you visit the faire at least once this summer. It's a great time for families, and people of all ages. There's something for everyone at the faire. Find ticket information on their website. The faire is open Saturdays, Sundays, and Labor Day now through September 2, 2013.