Bristol Renaissance Faire , one of the three fairs part of Renaissance Entertainment Productions, is located right on the border of Wisconsin and Illinois. It is also where your favorite Trayn’d Bandes finds it’s home for the summer. And what a summer it has been so far!
Bristol is such a wonderful and magical place, and we get to play alongside some of the most talented performers in the world. It is truly something to behold. We have opened the gates and greeted people from all walks of life, who come to Bristol and allow themselves to be transported back into time and escape for a day.
Our weeks have been jam packed, and every weekend brings a new adventure and experience. As we enter our eighth weekend at Bristol, it is so difficult to concisely describe what the Trayn’d Bandes have experienced.
I have (with a great deal of blood, sweat and tears) narrowed it down to a top 5 list.
#5 – The Trayn’d Bandes vs. The Dirty Ducks
One of the other casts at Bristol, The Guild of St. Lawerence makes it their mission to make their presence “known” on a daily basis to us. The Guild of St. Lawerence (or the Ducks as they are called, taking their name from the Inn at which they are housed) portrays a middle class group of citizens within Bristol, who feed and take care of the cast. They are also a group of practical jokers, who love playing tricks on their unsuspecting cast mates. Whether it is their hiding from us (not very well I might add), in order to jump out at surprise us as we march back to the encampment in the morning, or hiding themselves within the encampment ready to attack us when we least expect it, we have a good time playing back and forth between the two groups. While we have to remain stoic and serious on the outside, it warms our hearts and souls on the inside.
#4 – Military Reunion Weekend
Over the course of the sixth weekend at Bristol, we recognize and celebrate those who paved the way for our group, and really, just how fantastic our group is (if we do say so ourselves). This year we celebrated the Trayn’d Bandes (GSM -Bristol’s) 21st year of existence. That’s right! We can legally drink!!! The weekend is really something special because the pike block gets bigger, the old stories are re-told and we all come together to really celebrate the fact that we are not only a group, but a family.
#3 – LAMMAS!
Now all dutiful readers of this blog (or those that just know us well), know that the Trayn’d Bandes know how to celebrate. And celebrate we do. Lammas is recognized near the end of July and the beginning of August, in observance and celebration of the first wheat harvest and the harvest of honey. The festival is one that is not only historically documentable, but is still recognized today. What better way to combine history and celebration by having a huge celebration in the encampment. We all wear wheat crowns, decorate the camp with wheat garlands and we eat like Queen Elizabeth herself. We ate, we drank and we were merry. WHEAT AND HONEY FOR EVERYONE!
#2 – Her Majesty, The Queen
Every day we are at Bristol, we celebrate the fact that Queen Elizabeth I has graced the city of Bristol with her presence. A huge parade occurs daily, welcoming her to the port town of Bristol, and the Trayn’d Bandes encampment sits right outside of the Nobles Glade where she holds court. This means … We get the opportunity to see her and interact with her on a daily basis. This year, she came over to dine with the Captain and Lieutenant which gave the rest of us the opportunity to create the entertainment for her while she dined. Having the ability of entertaining the patrons with her was really something special, and we know we gave her a performance she will never forget.
#1 – The Patrons
For me…this is the most fantastic element of the summer. From day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute, we are given the opportunity to interact with so many different people. Bristol brings in people from every walk of life, the old and the young, those wanting to escape the real world, and those who are taking their family on a day trip. We interact and talk with so many different people, and we are given the opportunity to teach them something. What is really fantastic is what they teach us. Having a conversation with one of our guests demands the suspense of disbelief. The patrons are speaking to someone, more often than not, with a different accent than their own, and with someone who is portraying a person who lived over 400 years ago. That level of trust is something that cannot be found anywhere else, and that experience is something a patron cannot find many other places. We are given such an invaluable opportunity to educate and to entertain the patrons, and it is something that we do not take lightly. It is this connection, this partnership, this trust, that leads to lasting memories. Memories for not only the patron, but the performer as well.
We enter our eighth weekend this weekend.
I wonder what memories will be made?