The Olde English Faire is an annual Renaissance Fair held in central Illinois. I attended the Faire with Brittany, Cash and Jaxon, who you can read about on our Traveling Companions page.
If you are not familiar with a Renaissance Fair, it is an event celebrating the post medieval times, the period of expansion. My Travel Companions
Most Renaissance Fairs that I have experienced have been specifically themed after the English renaissance, or the Elizabethan era. This time period, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth, is often marked as "The Golden Age," when society is seen as having moved out of the dark ages.
The English Renaissance was a cultural shift, based largely on literature and music, in contrast to the Italian Renaissance which had a more prevalent focus on the visual arts. The invention of the printing press enabled much of this, as new ideas spread much faster and further with the printed word. This was the time when England broke away from the Catholic Church, inaugurating the Church of England. It was the time of Francis Bacon and William Shakespeare, the time of live theater and madrigal choir: writings and traditions that we still admire today.
Actors, hobbyist, and enthusiasts dress in garb of their favorite Elizabethan Archetypes to entertain, or be entertained. All manner of performances, skills and games from the era might be seen at a Renaissance fair, and are only limited by the imagination of the performers and those in attendance.
At a Renaissance Fair, you can be whatever you want, from King to pirate, from queen to gypsy, from wizard to warrior. Everyone is welcomed, in fact encouraged, to dress for the times!
The fair we attended, the Olde English Faire, hosted performances by minstrels, belly dancers, theater actors, fire eaters, wizards, bards, falconers, jousters, sword fighters, and jousters.)
There were acrobats, both in the air and on the ground.
There were vendors for food, including the symbolic turkey leg, henna tattoos, swords, crafts, crystal work, and clothing from gypsy wear to wizard robes. Other Faires have their own combinations of entertainment, such as challenging a Chessmaster, portrait drawing, and photograph rooms with costumes.
There were areas to experience archery, ax and knife throwing, tomato throwing, horse riding and firing the cannon(with water balloons, of course.) In the target throwing game, there were knives and axes, but there were also martial arts stars for the middle aged children, who were not strong enough to wield the knife.
Cash and Jaxon, Brittany and I, enjoyed the games, a lot. Our fun really started with water balloon cannon. The master demonstrated how to use the sling-shot type mechanism, and chose me as his target. It was almost a dead on hit to the heart. Good thing it was just a water balloon, but I was drenched. The kids found this hilarious and inspirational, and they were quite determined in their attempts to hit each other.
The archery range attracted all ages of shooters. There was a variety of bow sizes and weights to choose from, so the children were able to select a good fit for their size and strength. By the time Cash and Jaxon each went through their twelve arrows, they were actually hitting the target. They were very proud of this accomplishment.
But you cannot attend a Renaissance Faire, without attending the Joust. Jousting was performed by the Knights of Valor. The battle was hosted by Shane Adams, of the History Channel's program, Full Metal Jousting. He had the crowd involved before the knights even came into the arena. He also informed us that all of the horses were rescued horses, which I thought was really cool.
Then the knights came on the scene, in their full armor. They were quite an impressive sight on their steeds. Each side of the stadium had a designated Knight to cheer on, and each knight selected a maiden, in whose honor they fought. Then the five pass battle began.
It is almost impossible to describe Jousting action with the written word.
We tried our hand at video to share the experience. If you need a little more, we have two more on our YouTube channel. If that is not enough, they were filming live onsite for Full Metal Jousting, so you can catch the episode when the season airs.
The Olde English Faire is held annually during the third weekend in June, at Wildlife Prairie Park, near Peoria, Illinois. I know that means it won't happen again for another 51 weeks..
But alas, weary not thyself with worry. For the love man hath for the fair is vast, and many fairs there be. For wherever a man's head may be lain, tis a surety that a fair mighteth he find near to his own hearth.
Renaissance Fairs are held throughout the year, and all around the country. They make en educational and entertaining day trip, especially for families. I am sure prices vary from one event to another, but at the Olde English Faire, I spent $90, for parking, entrance, bratwurst and Slush Puppies for four of us; water cannon, two rounds of BowStick Archery, and wooden swords, for two of us, and one pony ride. Performances were all free. It was not a budget day, but it was pretty reasonable for everything we did.
Find a Renaissance Faire near your home, coming soon by checking The RenList. there is probably one close to you coming soon, unless you live in North Dakota. There seems to be no Renaissance Faires in North Dakota. Check out The Ren List, to find a Faire near you. http://www.therenlist.com/
For more information of Knights of Valour, see their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ExtremeKOV/
For episodes of Full Metal Jousting, see the History Channel: http://www.history.com/shows/full-metal-jousting
To learn more about Stickbow Archery, see their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stickbowarchery/
To learn more about The Rosetta Sisters, see their website: http://rosettasisters.com/
To learn more about Pava Productions, see her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/PavaProductions
To learn more about Bardmageddon, see their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Bardmageddon/?ref=page_internal
Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not point out that the host site for the Olde English Faire was Wildlife Prairie Park. Wildlife Prairie is an excellent place for a Day Trip at any time. There are animals, adventures, playgrounds, trails, campsites, and train rides. The list goes on far too long for this post.
Mike the Bison is one pretty amazing resident of Wildlife Prairie!
Check out their website and it's fully stocked calendar of events. http://wildlifeprairiepark.org/
To see all post images and a couple extras in a light box, open the gallery here: http://gypsywithadayjob.com/portfolio/day-trip-olde-english-faire/