For those of your who have never been to a Ren Faire before, the deal is you pay for an experience where the theme is the Elizabethan era. I say theme because not everyone speaks strange or pokes fun at your modern technology, but sometimes that's part of the deal. Do you have to go in costume? No. Do you have more fun that way? In my opinion, yes.
At Bristol there are lots of shows with great entertainment, lots of shops with great products, and lots of fun people who are fun to talk to. At the two ren faires I've been to, this one and the one in Tuxedo, NY, the people are fun and approachable. Those are the kind of people hired for the faire. Or I should say those are the kind of people that apply for the job in the first place. So unless you are a complete sourpuss or the most catastrophic life experience just happen, you're guaranteed to have a good time.
Shows I liked:
Tartanic: High energy bagpipe band that definitely were lively and fun. Good music, which will surprise you if you thought you didn't like bagpipes. I actually saw them twice and the two shows were not exactly the same. These guys live to play music and entertain, especially the front guy who loves interacting with the audience. Check them out if you like fun celtic music and men in kilts. Unfortunately they were only at faire that weekend, but you can check them out elsewhere if you check out their site.
The Swordsmen: Dirk and Guido out on a hilarious comedy routine that involves swords play, self-deprecating jokes and embarrassing audience interaction if you're into that kind of thing. It's comedy that's just intelligent enough to make everyone laugh without feeling like you lost all your brain cells, unlike shows like Jackass that I secretly appreciate. Dirk's facial expressions will carry half of your laughs, for he's blessed with the gift of comical exaggerated emoting. Not to forget Guido who's partly funny because at first you think he's the smart one of the group, looking just slightly more dignified. Nay! He's just as stupid as the show goes on. Check this out for laughs at stupid men with dangerous objects.
1 Flaming Idiot: I don't think this guy has his own website, or at least I can't find it. But Rob Williams does have a few videos of him making a bologna sandwich with his feet. And yeah, I was the person who ate that sandwich. By the way, it was delicious and was the cheapest food at faire. He also complimented the fact that I was dressed as a pirate, aka a terrorist from two-hundred years ago. He made a good point. Anyway, his act is more than just the sandwich with his feet, and he is definitely one of those people who has utilized his crazy energy for the good of other people's entertainment. I definitely appreciate that. Check him out whenever you need a bizarre show in your life.
Shops I liked:
Ravensburg Chain Maille: A great selection of chain accessories and gear, for people who want something for their ren faire garb or just a unique piece of jewelry that all their friends will ask about. Unfortunately I can't find a website for them, but click here to email them, or specifically Steven Dalton who's name is on the card.
Arms and Armor Inc.: Very knowledgeable people who make great swords and other weapons. And when I mean other weapons, I mean flails and spears and pole axes. For example, the reason I want to promote them is because this High Gothic Mace tickled my fancy. I really liked it, and one day when I have the right mantle to place it on I will buy it. They also do a lot of custom work, and looking at the stuff in person you can tell that the stuff is impressive and pretty. And any place that makes weapons for the Globe Theatre in London, I am impressed.
The Leather Guy: I think this was the only person at faire who was actually selling raw materials. A great selection of different kinds of skins and leathers for any seriously crafty person to pick up and work on. The friend I went to faire with picked some up for a pretty reasonable price and the guy even gave him a discount on some leather when he thought it wasn't the best quality. If you don't work with skins then you probably shouldn't check the store out, but if you do I will attest to there being an impressive selection for anyone that sets up a raw materials shop at a ren faire.
The Isle of Man Woodworking: the website does not show the extensive amount of well made wood products that these guys put out this year. I especially like the mugs that they have, but they have everything else from staffs to cutting boards to wands. Yes wands. And a lot of the work is in creative patterns with different types of colorful wood. I really like those mugs and when I have the money I will probably purchase one.
All in all a fantastic ren faire, and I think everyone who is even vaguely interested in some of this stuff should check it out if they're in the area. Or a ren faire closer to you if you wish. Trust me, it's fun!