First Day of Fall, 2013

So far, so good. Crisp, cloudless, gorgeous. If we could have it just like this for the next three months, I would not mind.

And to celebrate, we’re off to a Renaissance fair. Or something. Hey, I don’t know, I just go where I am told. See you later.

In the meantime, contemplate and discuss: Why do they call them Renaissance fairs when most of the time they seem focused on medieval times? There should be some honesty in labeling, I think.

34 Comments on “First Day of Fall, 2013”

  1. Even worse than you think, John. Most such “faires” are set in something vaguely English, and England wasn’t really part of the Renaissance. (As one friend — and employee of a Renaissance fair told me — by the time it got to England, it was over.) Presumably it should be more an Italian gathering with lots of city-state infighting and lots of artist-scientists running around instead of ironclad fighters beating each other with sticks. Just sayin’.

  2. Ask any two historians where the dividing line is and you’ll get three answers, and that’s not even getting into the centuries it took for “renaissance” thinking to move from country to country. I think more Renaissance Faires edge over into the early 17th century than do much with the early medieval period.

  3. The modern Renaissance Faire has had about 50 years to develop. (If you trace it back to the Patterson faire in 1963 and not to the various earlier college and university fairs.) I think the faires have moved more towards faux medieval as they’ve become more popular. Given a choice between a stately dance and wenches, ale, and armor, most people aren’t going to pick the pavane.

  4. I love Ren Faires, but I always saw them as a Victorian ideal of the middle ages, as seen through the lens of the 1960s. As such, I don’t have high expectations for truth in advertising. :)

  5. larnotlars – Denver – I am a veterinarian by day, but play blacksmith by days off... I also like to build computers and slay denziens on said computers.... politically I am libertarian left with a little Heineinesce attitude towards foreign powers (real, not idiots with rpg's and delusions of global power...) I also like warm cookies, puppies and backrubs

    And why are there so many Imperial Storm Troopers at the Colorado Ren Fest? I can kinda understand the Captain Jack’s…
    None the Less, we like it so much we had our wedding there last year.


  6. The Renaissance Faire around here now has weekends dedicated to pirates, a chocolate festival, and highland games (among other things), none of which are particularly period-appropriate.

  7. The two main Renaissance Faire’s in my state seem to be roughly aimed at Elizabethan/late Tudor England.

    It’s irrational on my part, buy my biggest peeve is the abundance of New World foods for sale (turkey legs, potatoes, tomatoes, etc).

  8. Most people are pretty vague about the difference between Renaissance and Medieval in my experience. I have a group that specializes in Renaissance music, and when we play at picnics, people are always commenting on the nice “medieval” music.

  9. If you insist on truth in advertising in the name, you’d probably be attending the “Idealized Vision of the Medieval Period, with Lots of Anachronisms, Faire” and that’s just unwieldy.

  10. A couple of centuries from now they’ll have 20th Century Mall faires where you get to eat Cinnabons and buy antiques from the Sunglass Hut.

  11. From some friends who happen to be very involved in planning and preparing for ‘ren faires,’ the use of ‘medieval’ of, in that community, a reference to creative anachronism. Which is to say, ‘renaissance’ means more culture and crafts, and ‘medieval’ means more yarr’ing and skull banging. Not that medieval people were yarr’ing much, but you know what I mean.

  12. larnotlars – Denver – I am a veterinarian by day, but play blacksmith by days off... I also like to build computers and slay denziens on said computers.... politically I am libertarian left with a little Heineinesce attitude towards foreign powers (real, not idiots with rpg's and delusions of global power...) I also like warm cookies, puppies and backrubs

    I forgot about all the comforts of Ren Living… Pox, Plague, Fleas, Lice, Syph, Typhus, and everyone’s favorite random warfare… Oh yeah, and a lack of refrigerators or health inspectors.

  13. DebyFredericks – Washington State – I'm a fantasy writer who lives in the Pacific Northwest. I write for kids as Lucy D. Ford and have four fantasy novels in print with two small presses. My latest is The Seven Exalted Orders, from Sky Warrior; the others are with Dragon Moon.

    Most Renfaires use a setup of Elizabethan times, which even in England was Renaissance rather than Medieval. What they do within that framework is entirely up to them and varies considerably from ‘faire to ‘faire.

  14. The labeling doesn’t bother me, because at the end of the day, I get to go home to my indoor plumbing and fridge.

  15. I assume it’s just marketing, and assonance. The whole “Medieval / evil” echo, plus the Dark Ages, makes that notion a lot less fun than the Renaissance.

  16. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me

    You’re away way too much on the weekends. It’s not good for us. And by us I mean… my friend who is like really into your blog.

  17. If you’d like a little more truth in advertising, I’d direct you to the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA)

    Although to be honest, they have the opposite problem. They say they’re middle ages (from the fall of Rome to the Renaissance specifically), but the fencers usually have Renaissance personas and the Romans have, well, pre-fall Roman personas.

  18. How selfless of you & your neighbors to send all the clouds to Cleveland & not keep any for yourselves. …

    Glad you’ve got nice weather for the faire, authentic or no. :-)

  19. The Ren-faires I’ve gone to do tend toward English, but they tend toward Elizabethan England, what with the ruffled collars and the rather severe looking Queen.

  20. The original Renaissance Pleasure Faire back in the 70’s was set in Queen Elizabeth’s reign, and she and her court were prominent at the Faire.

  21. I was at a Renfaire in South Carolina with a viking boat. The vikings were wondering why they were there, also. (Renfaire time frame: late 16th century. Viking time frame, 9th – 11th century.) Same Renfaire had vegan hand pies with cheese, so I think they had an overall problem with definitions.

  22. The Minnesota Renaissance Festival also annoyed Neil Gaiman enough that he incorporated it (or something like it) into a Sandman story: Sandman #73 with Hob Gadling.

  23. I think in general the successful “Renaissance” festivals/fairs combine medieval and Elizabethan. Because: armor & swordplay for the guys, extremely fancy and all-figures-flattering clothes for the girls. I don’t think any festival/fair organizer who wanted to make a profit would try to be historically authentic to either period. It’s a miracle more people don’t drop dead of heat stroke as it is.

    p.s. noted the Tweet re Susan Cooper. “The Dark is Rising” Susan Cooper? I gotta check that out. :-)

  24. Technically, turkey legs, potatoes, tomatoes, and maize were all present in Europe before 1600. The jarring element I recently observed at the MD Ren Fair was steampunk.

  25. The local one where I grew up, in Tuxedo NY, has the whole Elizabethan court, and jousting

    ….and Robin Hood and his Merrye Men, lord only knows why. And the past ten years or so an increasing number of samurai, but they’re not part of the show.

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