rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 06/30/2003
Day Trips - Bristol Renaissance Faire
by Bristol Renaissance Faire PR
This year's 16th annual Bristol Renaissance Faire beckons Midwesterners back to a time when knights were noble, maids were merry, and turkey legs were titanic. Each Saturday and Sunday from June 28 through August 24, more than 1,200 period performers, artisans and merchants will inhabit the wooded village near Kenosha, Wis., taking visitors along for a rollicking romp through Elizabethan England.

New to the 30-acre woods this season will be England's most famous outlaw Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men, appearing in village streets multiple times daily to fight for the rights of the downtrodden against the nefarious Lord High Sheriff of Bristol and his legions of greed. The "Prince of Thieves" and his sidekicks will be the latest additions to a lengthy litany of legendary characters inhabiting the realm of the Faire - most notably Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth herself, whose visit to the English hamlet of Bristol in 1574 forms the framework for most Faire festivities.

Each day at half past noon, the Queen and her Royal Court process through the streets of the village with pomp and pageantry befitting the "Monarch of the Millennium." Armored knights on horseback vie for the Queen's favor in games of skill and adrenaline-charged royal jousts. Faire favorites Dirk and Guido, "The Swordsmen," perform daring sword fights and attempt to win the affections of unsuspecting ladies among the crowd. The Sturdy Beggars get down to dirty tricks in their bawdy, but beloved, mud shows; and MooNiE the Magnif'Cent masters mind over matter in amazing displays of ropewalking and fire juggling.

Sixteen entertainment stages feature nonstop music and merriment, including the Faire's resident Minstrels of Mayhem delivering rousing songs and spirited tales of adventure, and the Washing Well Wenches, a new comedy duo sure to make a "splash." There'll also be special guest appearances by groups such as the four-time Grammy nominated Scottish Rogues, a.k.a. "the bad boys of bagpipes," Kaminari Daiko Drummers, and Germany's Wolgemut band with its unique brand of "Renaissance Rock 'n' Roll."

The Faire's Kids Kingdom features interactive games, rides and crafts, oversized sand boxes and a huge climb-aboard pirate ship. Not to be missed are Jane the Phoole's Treasure Hunt and the daily Knighting Ceremony, where Queen Elizabeth makes all waiting children knights and ladies of her majesty's court.

Close to 200 artisans display their wares in the Faire Marketplace. Potters, glass blowers, broom caners, and forgers busily go about their work, as shoppers discover rare finds around every corner. Offerings range from sterling silver jewelry and hand-crafted leather works to hickory sparring weapons, tapestries, bent willow furniture and wooden marionettes.

Then there's the food! Fresh roasted turkey legs, fish and chips, garlic sautéed mushrooms, corn on the cob, steak sandwiches, savory grilled chicken, ice cream, fruit crepes and other delicacies tempt Faire-goers to bring their royal appetites and leave their willpower at home.

Located just west of I-94's Russell Road exit, near the Illinois/Wisconsin border, the Bristol Renaissance Faire is open rain or shine, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, June 28 through August 24. Tickets purchased at the gate are $17.50 for adults and $8.50 for children age 5 to 12. Advance ticket discounts are available online at or by phone, (847) 395-7773. Bristol Renaissance Faire: Where Fantasy Rules!
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