by Kathy Brockman
No, I am not THAT old! In Kenosha County, which is south of Milwaukee near the Illinois state line, is a place that takes you back to Elizabethan England in 1574. In late July, about 15 of us took two vans from the Badger Association to spend a really hot sunny day strolling through the Renaissance Faire. Approximately 1,200 merchants, performers and others are dressed in period costumes. You will see jousting knights, juggling jesters, rogues and ladies dressed in their finery -- most with large hoop skirts. Many are walking around and will stop to talk or offer help if needed. I stopped one lady and asked her to show her dress to my friend, and the lady was very helpful in describing her costume.
There are arts, crafts, games, music, dancing -- and let's not forget the food! For example, we were in a bakery and I bought a scone, shortbread and a dragon tail. That was like extra pie dough that is twisted, baked and then drizzled with chocolate. At another booth we had onion-saut‚ed mushrooms with large toothpicks provided to fish them out of the yummy sauce. There was also a large breadstick to soak up the sauce. You name it, they had it.
We rested periodically during the day since it was so hot. We saw one performance that included bagpipes. At another place they had a catapult ride where people were harnessed and then attached to two bungee-type cords. Some of the people went up about 20 to 30 feet high and did somersaults. It was quite interesting to watch -- but none of us were game to try it!
I almost got myself into a little trouble, though. We were trying to make our way back to the entrance since it was time to leave. Two lovely ladies asked if we needed help, so we accepted their assistance since they were going in the same direction. I mentioned that they must be "pretty hot" in their outfits, which were made of heavy fabric and had several layers. They played the part and used an old English accent, appearing shocked at my comment. I then stumbled over myself and said they must be warm because of the heat -- and I assured them they were very beautiful.
One of the ladies then recited several Shakespearean poems as we walked along. She asked me if I read, and I assured her I did. A lot of my reading is on a computer, but I told her she probably didn't know what that was -- and she agreed. Hey, it was 1574 -- remember? So they got us back to the entrance and we parted ways with a friendly goodbye.
Great efforts are taken to keep the costumes, atmosphere and food within the 1574 culture, etc. But it is still 2007 down there. I heard one faire-goer mention that the ATM machine was near the entrance, and several others walked along with their cell phones on. We all enjoyed ourselves but were glad to come back to 2007 -- and air-conditioning!