Ye olde geeks: 6 reasons why the Bristol Renaissance Faire is better than Summerfest
Summer is the time for festivals featuring overpriced food and drink, archaic costumes, and music from a time long past. But, enough about Summerfest. (Zing!) The Bristol Renaissance Faire, near the border between Wisconsin and Illinois, begins July 9 and overlaps with a few days of the Big Gig. Both are venerable institutions that have devoted fan bases; both involve self-aggrandizing people-watching in between entertainments; and both are best experienced when your wallet is loaded with a few recent paychecks. But for those of you who are burnt out on Summerfest, which finally wraps things up July 10, Bristol has a few distinct advantages:
Even in the midst of the construction on I-94, Ren Faire travelers can just zip down into Kenosha, follow the other cars into a beaten-down field, and park their vehicles. Summerfest requires you to pay double digits to park on its grounds. Your other choices at the Big Gig include hunting for a parking spot in a lot that has jacked up its prices, parking on some shady side street nobody will remember, or riding a shuttle that will be knee-deep in drunks and their natural secretions by the time you pull away from the festival.
Fewer drunks, more geeks
One of the big draws of Bristol is seeing the hardcore enthusiasts show up in their period-precise costumes. With the rise of cosplay and convention costumes, people coming to the Ren Faire use it as an excuse to dust off their getups as well. Expect to see Star Trek crewmembers, Klingons, Stormtroopers, and a half-dozen Jack Sparrows wandering around pissing off the historical accuracy crowd. Chances are good that if people are vomiting and passing out, it’s from costume-related heat exhaustion rather than from too many wine coolers.
Almost all of the beer served at Summerfest is from Miller and its allies in the world of beer production. (You’re not fooling us, Leinenkugel’s.) Sure, there has been some headway made by local craft beers in recent years, but Miller still retains its iron-fisted sponsorship hold. Bristol’s selection is just as pricey as Summerfest’s, but at least you can get a Guinness, which you can’t even do at Irish Fest.
When two dudes throw down at Summerfest, expect slurred profanity, a ton of shoving and posturing, and multiple attempts at punching each other in the dick. When two dudes throw down at Bristol, expect witty banter, a well-rehearsed swordfight, and at least one or two dick jokes.
The only people excited about Summerfest T-shirts are the people who actually win them. Both festivals have handcrafted jewelry and other knickknacks, but Summerfest lacks the display weaponry and pirate-themed merchandise of its southern neighbor. Buying something at Bristol also increases the chances you’ll catch the fever and turn into a hardcore fanatic. You’re not just going to buy one leather gauntlet, are you?
Is that Kansas show really going to be that much different than it was last year? Is it worth standing around in a sea of teenagers with their heads bowed texting to their friends ten feet away just to see that band you discovered? You can easily find a seat for the big shows at Bristol, like the joust or the sword fights. There’s also a much smaller chance that you’ll be stepped on by a table dancer who is old enough to be your mother.