Follow Wisconsin Trails writer Chelsey Lewis as she gets out to explore Wisconsin. Read more about this blog here.
"You're seriously going to that?" my brother asked me as we sipped beers on my parents' patio on Saturday afternoon. He was referring to the Renaissance Faire, which I had just enthusiastically told my family I was going to the next day.
My family's pretty used to me doing all kinds of unique and unusual Wisconsin things, since, well, it is my job. But in typical older-sibling fashion, my brother never misses an opportunity to tease my nerdy pursuits. Big-brother bullying aside, he's always been much more the type to do exactly what we were doing on Saturday - sitting on a patio, drinking a beer, listening to the Brewers. I was always the one with wanderlust. He teases; I travel.
But all joking aside, the Renaissance Faire is not just for fantasy geeks or Wisconsin travel writers. The festival, which runs weekends from the beginning of July through Labor Day every summer, features medieval music, food, games, performances and souvenirs set amidst a 16th-century English village.
Costumed performers play music while others perform a traditional dance.
The people-watching alone makes a trip to Renaissance Faire worth it. Many visitors (more than I remember from my last visit when I was 10) come dressed in costumes - everything from spot-on period corsets and doublets and Jack Sparrow-inspired hats to the more fantastical Star Wars and Steampunk get-ups.
All employees are also dressed in period attire, and they put on regular and impromptu performances throughout the park: dances, plays, music, juggling, sword fights, soliloquies and more.
One of my favorites was the joust. We were only able to catch the skills joust, but there is also a "Joust to the Death," which is exactly what it sounds like. Apparently it can get pretty "bloody." I think even my Game of Thrones-loving brother would appreciate that.
My only complaint: the festival is a bit pricey. Regular adult admission is $19.95 (kids are $9.50, and I bought my ticket at Walgreen's and saved $3), which isn't too bad considering the elaborate setting and free performances. But add to that the cost of food, beer and any additional diversions (archery, pony rides, sword fighting, face painting), and it can start to get expensive.
Don't leave the faire without trying a turkey leg slathered in barbecue sauce.
But if you stick with a few classics - a turkey leg, a beer, a small souvenir - it's easy enough to spend less than $40 and leave more than satisfied.