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An Afternoon at the Renaissance Festival!

September 17, 2006

Martha went to Ann Arbor for the weekend to help Mike with a huge garage sale. So on Saturday I took the kids and their friend to the Michigan Renaissance Festival in Holly, near Flint.

We went the year before last as well. Boy, what an eyeful! It really is amazing. The outfits are just astounding.

It's an old fest, I think. It's in a rural area. It's $18 for an adult $9.

Yeah, I love the outfits. The layering, the rich colors, the accessories---the pouches, scabbards, holsters and such. They make regular clothes look so blah. The kids played here and there and I stolled around with a huge turkey drumstick and mug'o'beer enjoying the sights. Of course a lot of the ladies and wenches wore bare cleavage type outfits. But I also enjoyed just marveling at the things people wore way back when. The cape concept seems worth something. It made me wonder about the robes they wear in the hot deserts. I suppose they might act as shades and that folks don't wear much under a big drapery like that. So that it's probably cooler than the tubing-oriented apparel we wear today. Tubes on arms and legs---what's that about? When did it start and why? Is it better for cutting through brush? That's about all I can think of.

The mix of people is hilarious. You have your re-enactors, then your punks with mohawks, piercings, tats and chains...and leather, kilts and swords. It's a blend of biker, punk, S&M and history buff. Plus hardcore autoworker partiers. It's bawdy! Let's do it up!

I like strolling around the smelling the leather shops. Now, I like their pouches but somehow they're still not exactly right for me. I try to thing what could one really do with all that stuff except wear it as a costume at the Ren Fest. Would it maybe really fit with some kind of way-slowed-down simple lifestyle?

The walking sticks are neat, too. An antler atop a stick has a good wow factor.

A lot of the people are of course role-playing throughout the grounds. They talk in accents. I think I've heard that some are supposed to, like they're an official part of the place. I'm pretty sure I saw a medieval guy talking on a cellphone in accent.

We watched knights in armor jousting from big horses and saw WWF-style sword fighting.

But the best thing of all was the falconry display. A guy had a bunch of hawks and falcons from big to small. He was in the middle of a modest clearing with hundreds of people around him. And he'd have these birds just fly away. They'd zoom out over the people, high above the trees, then come flashing back down, right over our heads, talons flared, to hit the leather piece he was swinging over his head. It was like lion-taming. These birds were fiesty. One flew off and landed on a far building and wouldn't come right away. The guy called him like a dog and he finally came blasting back. But he said the birds were understandably distracted. Well, yeah! The big ones would go lumbering through the crowds and trees, tipping from side to side as they picked up speed, then bank up and out, high, then roar back. Some would swoop in then straight up then fold and drop straight back down. The crowd was a bit afraid. One went sweeping right past my upheld camera, giving me second thoughts, too. In my pics I see people throwing themselves to the ground. It was great! Afterward I saw that the falconer looked like a hawk himself, with very piercing eyes. Wow!

At the end of the show the fancy folk were dancing in the entrace area. One guy really took the cake. What a hat he had! And the *brocade*...snazzy.

As we walked back to ye olde car we passed a guy with a neat canvas and leather rucksack and I chatted with him and his pal. The pal said "Hey man I came here with jeans and a t-shirt now look at me $200 later!" He was indeed decked out, in basic starter level knave attire but he was psyched. For what, I don't really know, but it was kind of neat seeing someone put on a whole new look.

There were even some American Indians there. Hey, they were medieval, too, but over here. I'd really like to see some French-Indian outfits with their mix of Native and European. They went wild back then.

Above, you can see the falcon at the right of the pic.

Above, you can see a chubby kid hit the deck. The falcon is barely visible as a pale diagonal line against the crowd, 7 feet up and to the right of the kid.

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