RenFest V: Last Huzzah

Thu Sep 20th, 2001 12:01:25 AM EST

Diary Entry 45
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This weekend was the fifth of seven total for the Michigan Renaissance Festival, but the last one for me, because I'm leaving for California tomorrow. This weekend I took pictures with my digital camera! See also the entries for weekends 1, 2, 3, and 4.

The weekend was darkened by Tuesday's dire events. Most cast members wore black arm bands or red, white, and blue ribbons. Donations were solicited for the Red Cross and many performers donated part of their `hat' as well. In all, over $8000 was raised for the Red Cross this weekend, according to Dale.

My usual costume is black with a red shirt. On Saturday I decided to wear all black, in honor of the tragedy, so I wore a black shirt instead. I also wore the sleeves on my doublet for the first time this run (they're detachable) as the weather has become a little cooler.

My friend Laura A. had been planning to come with me Saturday, but I decided that it was a bad idea, because I didn't know how the mood of the festival would be (and because I didn't want to be entertaining another woman with Azalia there). In fact it wasn't that bad: crowds were cheerful and unusually large the entire weekend. My thought is that they were trying to escape from TV news and current events.

It was not a particularly eventful day in the bunny fencing business. In the morning, before we could set up, we had to prop back up part of the tent that had fallen down during the week. Rivka gave me a red, white and blue pin, which I put on my hat. Tiffany's cut foot from last week had healed up. Ryan came, along with his dad, as a patron. Audrey came by and exhibited her sleeping charge, son of one of the royal courtiers, who is senior to most of the nobles and which means practically everyone has to bow to her by proxy (if they know this at least). A high school acquaintance of mine, Justin B., showed up and fenced against me for the pleasure of his companion (girlfriend? fiancée?).

Azalia appeared 11ish with a new story of car woes. It seems that her third tire gave up the ghost and the fourth had a bubble in it. So that means that the full set has been replaced in the last two weeks due to problems. Sheesh. We exchanged contact info and I learned that I'd been misspelling her name.

We made some of our own fun. Wendy and Azalia carried one of the bunny fencing signs (the one in this picture) in the parade. As for me, I took one of the pointer signs meant for signposts (that hadn't been put up for whatever reason) and a bunny mask and stood stock-still in the crowd, pointing toward the booth. Occasionally someone would wander up and say to his companion, ``Hey, is that guy real?'' and I'd turn suddenly toward them and suggest that they try the bunny fencing. They really jumped the few times I tried this.

I got off from bunny fencing about 6:00 and went to the car to pick up my camera. I stuck it in my old soft cloth pouch to act as an anachronism barrier. I took pictures and wandered about the fairegrounds for a bit with Azalia. We went on the dragon swings for a while, until I started to get a bit nauseous.

Closing was not marked by a cannon due to worries about people perhaps feeling a little sensitive about loud noises in crowds. While I was waiting at the trailer for everyone to get going, Caroline came by and gave Dr. Todd, Keith, and me hugs and kisses. We were all surprised until she showed us the rubber duckie shaped like Queen Elizabeth. This was something that the group had bought for her way back in May when we'd gone to Las Vegas. I guess that it had presented to her by Dale earlier that day. Very cool.

We all went to dinner at Fajita's, a restaurant a ways down Dixie Highway.

Sunday: This was my day to do pretty much what I wanted. I walked around before opening and took photos of the grounds all over. I did run the north bunny fencing booth through about 1:30 pm, but after that I took the rest of the day off.

There was some fun running the bunny fencing today. There was the woman wearing horns and standing next to the guy holding a bag of nuts, for instance; I'll leave the jokes to your own imagination. And then there was the way that Dan tied balloons all over his body for advertising during the parade and as adjudicator.

I went to watch the scene where Guy of Gisborne (Colin) is about to be burned by some of Robin's band. The Sheriff (Dale) shows up at the last minute, fights everyone off, and frees Guy. The fun part for us is the way that the little kids really get into it. Dale has perfect justification for his treatment of Robin's band—they're breaking the law, he's enforcing it—but that's certainly not the way that the kids see it. I like to try to argue his side of it with kids, just to see if I can convince them, but they never believe me.

Speaking of little kids, there was one last weekend, soon after opening, who was very impressed by me. I was just walking around near the pirate ship stage and this kid looks over and sees me and starts jumping up and down and shouting, ``He's got a sword! He's got a sword!'' Pretty weird.

I bought a new knife this past week, because I wanted something more impressive to pop balloons with. I couldn't find anything period, but I did find something kind of cool looking; better than a Leatherclone, anyway. I finally got to use it in early afternoon during a bunny bout between two little kids. (Little kids aren't strong enough or coordinated to pop balloons on their own, so we have to help them out by holding a knife behind the balloons.) I looked around the festival for a better knife and I finally found one place that had almost exactly what I wanted—and they were sold out! Dammit. Oh well, there's always next year.

During the afternoon I wandered around the faire grounds and had fun with people. I hawked steak sandwiches with another cast member (no idea who) for a few minutes. I ate a steak sandwich, an orange smoothie, a frozen chocolate banana. I talked to Dee, who runs the ``turtle races'' game booth. I bought a 2001 RenFest t-shirt, because I liked this year's design, and took it out to the car.

I also waited for Azalia to show up. I could have had more fun if I wasn't expecting her. Instead, I did a lot of just waiting. Funny how that works. Anyway, around 3:00 I finally ran into her, and we wandered around for a while. But then she suddenly caught two other guys and I became just another guy following her around. I sort of sulked for a while, then decided to cut my losses and went off on my own.

I found a nice rock to recline on down the street from the pub. I talked to passersby there until Leslie, one of my sabre fencers, happened by. We had a nice conversation and then walked around the festival for a while. We stopped a few times for me to take more photographs.

Around the time of closing I headed back to the bunny tent. There was hardly anyone around. I wanted to get some photos of me with another fencer in our costumes. Doug was there in his kilt with his Pappenheimer sword, so we posed some nice shots, with Susan (his girlfriend) handling my camera.

As usual, everyone gathered in the pub after closing. This time there were lots of good stories. Caroline told us about the surprise birthday party thrown for her by the court (her birthday is Sept. 7), where she received another rubber duckie of the kind we had bought her. Dale told us about a time when a patron pulled off her artificial leg and starting hitting him with it (!) and a wedding conducted by the washing wenches that he'd been suddenly and unexpectedly asked to serve in (he was the ``father of the bride''). Azalia got massaged by several guys at once, and I took photos; one of the tamer ones is up on the webpage. (Don't stretch your imagination, it wasn't too risqué.) Anyone up for starting barelylegalrenfest-dot-com?

The group went to ``Mr. B's'' for dinner. Dale paid for me because it was my last day. I showed the weekend's photographs to everyone interested on the camera's little LCD. Goodbyes were said. And I left.

I really have to come back sometime. These people are great. They're my friends, and I'll miss them. Goodbye, everyone.

Last updated 03 Apr 2004 21:17. Copyright © 2004 Ben Pfaff.
May be freely redistributed, but copyright notice must be retained.