Last week I took a trip to the Great Lakes Medieval Faire. Typically I dress up for such events, however my health has been taking a bit of a toll on me and I have been having trouble getting to my sewing. I did put on my corset, riding boots, and my newest red cloak though. I didn’t get the chance to take any photos of my outfit, though another photographer at the fair did take my picture.
I was hoping he would post one of the photos he took of me, but it seems I didn’t make the cut. Oh well. . .
I had not been to this particular festival in a few years and I was delighted to see the new “peasant quarters” being set up. It was a tiny area where they had set up two finished homes and one unfinished to show how they were erected.
They were furnished with table settings and beds, which I found very cute but it did not seem to interest the general crowd too much. Only a few people took the time to walk down the path and peek inside the buildings. For the most part it was a bit barren. I think this could have been remedied if they just had someone there to either educate or entertain the customers.
Considering this was the first thing you walked past after entering the gates, I feel it could have been a lot more popular than it was. It was a wonderful spot for photo opportunities. I’m not really sure why a photographer didn’t set up “camp” here to take photos of patrons in costumes. (I guess there’s an idea someone can take for next year!)
The weather was just beautiful with partly cloudy skies and a nice cool breeze on a mild summer day. Which I am thankful for since I had a few car issues during this trip.
We did not stay for many shows, we did enjoy the band which was singing at the Craic and of course the Washing Wenches, but in general the shows didn’t seem to interest us. As a belly dancer myself, I was also a little disappointed that there was not a belly dance show.
We very quickly made our rounds. Usually in previous years I have spent probably 5 hours at this fair just exploring and watching the shows. This year, we had walked the entire festival in probably 30 minutes then decided to go around once more to see if there was anything we missed.
Most of our time was dedicated to me stopping to snap a few pictures, of which I do not feel I got very many good photos. It seemed to me, this year I found it very difficult to tell the difference between patrons and the people who were working at the fair.
Many of those that were working were wearing cheaply made costumes with very little care for the theme or time period. No one spoke to us with the fake accent and the honorifics which I have come to know as being a great part to Ren Faires. The only time I heard someone address people as “Mi’lord” or “Mi’lady” was when a performer was addressing the crowd as a whole.
In fact, there was a sad lack of reenactors all together. Of course, I am well aware that Pennsic is the same week as this festival, so I figured many people were likely attending Pennsic in lieu of this fair. Still, I was disappointed.
One saving grace was the Viking camp, which was sadly over looked. It was tucked away on an off shooting path with a dead end. In previous years, they were just two small booths selling glass bead jewelry; this year they had a few tents and a large tent with a table covering many people. An open fire, clothing on display, and craftsmen working. Everyone was in traditional clothing and very much looked the part. They even greeted me with a polite “good day, lady”.
When I arrived at the Viking camp, it seemed to be lunch time since many of them were gathered at the large tent enjoying a meal. I didn’t find this off putting at all and in fact enjoyed the fact that they were even dining as if it were medieval times. As you can see above, they even washed their dishes with the water collected in these buckets after finishing their meal. I was very glad to see them taking their role somewhat seriously.
We did not stay at the fair for too long, perhaps 2 hours at most. We did not get any souvenirs or crafted goods. Instead we left inspired to keep working on our own personal projects. We enjoyed being out and exploring the makeshift-village, but we left feeling this fair was a little. . .sloppy (for lack of better term).
I am sure there are many people who only attend these festivals to obtain nice handcrafted items in a fun setting, however I have always attended these events for the atmosphere and fun.
I left feeling like I could have spent my money more wisely elsewhere and a little upset knowing that I didn’t get the type of photos I had set out to get.
Sadly, I probably will not be returning to this particular festival in the up coming years.