Eat, Drink, and Be Merry at the Bristol Renaissance Faire

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It’s important to note, right at the outset, how resistant I am to the Ren Faire. Having adored it as a kid, where it was a chance to ride elephants, watch jousts, and batter my sister with wooden swords, I grew up to be a person, for better or worse (worse), who doesn’t much like silliness. And the Ren Faire is pure silliness. Fortunately, I hang around with people who tell me to stop being such a bummer and just have fun sometimes, and it was with some such people (Laura, our art directrix, and our associated menfolk) that I went to the Bristol Renaissance Faire just over the Wisconsin border this past weekend.

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There’s a big difference between going to the Ren Faire as a kid with your family and going with your friends as an adult. That difference is alcohol. In order to maximize our drinking and being merry, we decided to go on Thoren Grymm’s pub crawl. For $25, you’re escorted by two lads and three lasses to four different pubs, where you’re served five six-ish ounce drinks of your choice (including mead, which is sickly sweet but you should probably try it, because, when at the Ren Faire…) and hear some filthy jokes. Which reminds me:

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Take this advisement seriously. There are lots and lots of dirty jokes. The tone is set by the guides, who make your (relatively short) wait in the line for drinks entertaining by telling jokes and singing songs and occasionally just insulting each other. The group is encouraged to join in, too, giving toasts, telling jokes, or, in our case, reciting limericks that appeared to be improvised on the spot. On our pub crawl, we also had a random hanger-on who, though not part of the official crawl, followed us around telling the worst jokes of all (when he could remember them—he was more than half in the bag himself).

Of course, there’s more to the Faire than drinking. (Though to be honest, once the drinking had been accomplished, I became a less-than-accurate reporter. This has happened at least once before.) We ate some decent fair food (nowhere near as good as last weekend’s) that was definitely not period-accurate: brats, veggie tempura, and cheese fritters. We browsed at the various shops, looking at tapestries, pottery, and chain mail. We watched some of the joust, the fire-whip guy’s demonstration, and a set of bawdy songs by Robin Hood and Little John. It seemed like the most fitting end to our visit to a simpler, drunker, dirtier time.

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