Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Librarian's Day at the Bristol Renaissance Faire

Was it Librarian's Day at the Bristol Renaissance Faire on Saturday, August 6? Bonnie and I went with our friends Nancy and Glenn. That's four librarians. We parted for a while, and Glenn later reported seeing three librarians that he knew from the suburbs of Chicago. At home in the evening I verified another wearing a T-shirt stating "librarian" in a photo of the Moonie show. I wonder how many more there were.

So, what draws librarians to a Renaissance fair? My first thought is fantasy. We read lots of books that take us to other worlds and enjoy going beyond the pages for a bit of magic and make-believe. What better place than the BRF? The performers, vendors, and much of the paying public are decked out as lords and ladies, knights, vikings, monks, witches, wizards, minstrels, and peasants from the time of Queen Elizabeth I. You also get a stray Klingon or hobbit, but no one seems to mind the disconnect. People speak like Shakespeare and pledge their loyalty to the queen. They even get up on horses and joust. What librarian would not want to be a part of the fun?

Knowing librarians, they are probably also drawn by the food and drink. Turkey legs, tempura, crepes, calzones, shepherd's pie, garlic mushrooms, fruit ices, and many confections are sale, as are all sorts of wines, beers, teas, and soft drinks. Servings are often good for sharing so you may try several dishes. I never go away hungry.

What I used to go for was the music. There used to be half a dozen stages at which musicians traded places every half hour. Madrigal singers wandered the fair. There was also a long table loaded with all sorts of recorders, crumhorms, lutes, whistles, and such under shady trees; musicians jammed all day. I would often spend most of my day listening to dance music and folk songs. That all seems to be gone, and I attend less regularly.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a shop with a great selection of early music compact discs, many of which were imported from the United Kingdom. There were entire shelves devoted to music of particular countries, periods, and instruments. I purchased discs on madrigals and consort music. The shop also had a big selection of board games based on events from history. Medici anyone? How about Armada?

Summer afternoons at the BRF can be rather hot, but there are many shady trees. Even the stands at the jousting field now have canopies. Cold drinks are readily available. With just the slightest breeze, it is a fine place to be.

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