Friday, September 26, 2014

The Enchanted Chalice Renaissance Faire

Certain summers when I was a girl growing up my family would load up the Saab and head an hour north to the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Every weekend during the summer months Elizabethan England would be recreated, 30 acres of swordfighting, games, rides, arts, crafts, food and music. This was where my crossbow obsession started (and ended, as my parents were not keen to have me practice in the house), and the fried dough and other treats consumed on the one visit a year were remembered months afterward. I haven’t come across anything similar since, as all the inhabitants of the 16th century village actually lived on site for the summer and 30 acres provides an enormous stage to be set. Then last weekend The Enchanted Chalice Renaissance Faire and Olde World Bazaar came to Greenville, and I was able to satiate my need for revelry and tomfoolery in this much smaller, yet true-to-the-genre-festival.

The Hounds of East Fairhaven

Located on the grounds of the Greenville Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, the fair is in at least its 4th year but it was our first visit. An improve comedy bit was getting laughs on the main stage, and people were wandering through the vendors’ section where everything from clothing and weapons to wands were for sale. As we chose to visit on Friday afternoon to allow for Saturday’s trip to Sky Top orchard, portions of the fair such as “Childe's Realm in the Enchanted Forest” weren’t open yet. We posed for pictures and then continued around to the fun & games area.

My little princess...

The boys tried their hand at a few games, but it soon became apparent that at their age it was more luck than skill involved. The jousting arena caught their eye, but we steered them towards the food vendors instead. With options ranging from bbq and pizza to salmon wraps, we had an easy time finding something for everyone. The boys settled in with hot dogs and sprite while we people-watched, the crowd ranging from casual summer-wear to elaborate costumes, corsets and make-up. We had opted for a casual gypsy-pirate look, especially appropriate as that happened to be National Talk Like a Pirate Day; we fit right in with our long skirts, jewelry and swords.

After meeting up with our friend Finn we stopped for a long sword demonstration by Sword Carolina (located right here in the Upstate), an impressive endeavor in the late-summer heat with the full body armor and helmets. It didn’t seem the smartest idea to let the boys watch after they had been repeatedly told not to play-fight with their swords, but their reaction to the clashes was hysterical laughter, eliciting chuckles from the rest of the audience as well. I think the sword fighters were expecting more applause than laughter?

They were followed by another set of fighters, these with armor and weapons recreated for the express purpose of being authentic to the time period. The engagements seemed more violence and less sport, so we soon continued on, doubling back to the Enchanted Forest area in hopes that it would be open. Finding that only the photo-op area was available we let the boys expend some energy but eventually drifted over to the hula-hoops and stilt-walkers area. It was there that dusk found us, and with a couple of reluctant revelers we made our way to the car to keep the little pirates’ appointment with the bathtub.

The Enchanted Chalice Renaissance Faire and Olde World Bazaar ran September 19th 5 to 11pm and Saturday the 20th 10am to 6pm. Admission was $8/adult and $3 for children ages 3 – 10, or $13/adult $5/child for a two-day pass. If we are in town next year we’ll attend on the Saturday to allow more time to explore the fair and to check out some of the musical talent. This year’s headliners included Darby Wilcox, Discordia Arts and Asheville-based Carolina Cieli in addition to the Alchemy Comedy Theater (that performed while we were there). Refreshments were available for purchase and parking was free.

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