Swords clang together, cannons fire, and the Queen roams her land. A fiddler is playing folk songs on a wooden stage, but it’s not the 15th century. The beautiful spring day has brought out 1,400 patrons to the New Hampshire Renaissance Faire.
Last weekend was the first weekend of the New Hampshire Renaissance Faire, a celebration of all things related to the Renaissance period of European history hosted in Kingston, NH. Saturday was an average day by Faire Standards, with about 1,400 entering through the main gate. Sunday’s Faire was met with a dreary weather forecast, and the rains poured away all but 99 patrons. Next weekend, Faire organizers are expecting over 3,000 patrons both days. Jarrod Bernier (‘17) and Lydia Ahlstrom (‘17) are both performers at the Faire this year. They were able to give MOR a preview of next weekend’s festivities.
Bernier has been a part of the Faire for eight years. He plays a role in the plot of the Faire, acting as a character named Hamish Poofypants, who Bernier describes a ruffian. Ahlstrom has only been a part of the Faire for four years. In previous years, she has performed violin onstage as the Fiddler of the Shire, which she will continue this year in addition to adopting a role in the plot. Her character is named Lady Patronia.
“We have jousting, we have an auction where they auction of medieval stuff, we have sword fighting, we have pirates doing black powder demonstrations, we have lots of musical performers, and we have lots of vendors selling period items like medieval clothing or renaissance garb,” said Bernier.
Ahlstrom is a fan of the music. Performers this year will include Ahlstrom herself, The Misfits of Avalon, Dirge Queen, and The Corr Thieves, among others. Celtic music, sea shanties, irish folk music, and many other musical tropes will be performed by bards of all sorts.
“For me, I like all the kids that come. I like letting them play the fiddle because they get all excited and weirded out. It’s adorable. After my show, I always save five to ten minutes to let kids come up and try to play. Recently there have been kids who come back and find me from previous years so that they can play, which is really nice. That makes me feel happy,” said Ahlstrom.
She adds, “I like playing theme songs like Star Wars or Indiana Jones. I’ll go from an Irish folk song to a theme song and people will be like ‘wait a minute’ because it throws them off.”
Aside from the many events which the Queen and her court attend, there are a collection of performers like Ahlstrom and Bernier wandering the Faire grounds, and interacting with the crowds. New this year are the Longshanks, a couple dressed in garb that wanders the Faire ground on stilts.
“One of them still went out one Sunday, and we were all worried because of the mud, but they did fine. They’re very talented, considering it was the least experienced of the two that chose to go out in the rain,” said Ahlstrom.
Another performer which Ahlstrom and Bernier recommend to keep an eye out for is Rufus. “Rufus is a mud beggar, who tells terrible jokes that are the funniest jokes you’ll ever hear. He also does lots of sight gags and stuff like that. He’s an experience that you really need to see,” said Bernier. Bernier and Ahlstrom also alluded to his musical talents with a recorder.
“On Sunday Jarrod was standing with his arm on my shoulder. Then Rufus came up and put his shoulder where Jarrod was. I had a cloak on so I didn’t see, but then he moved his head in front and I screamed so loud. It was terrifying. That’s not a face you want to see,” Ahlstrom said with a laugh.
Between the performers, shopping, and food, there’s a lot to do at the New Hampshire Renaissance Faire. “There’s something for everyone,” said Ahlstrom. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for kids. All proceeds of the Faire go to the New Hampshire Food Bank and Rockingham meals on wheels. Next weekend, the Faire will be open from 10:00 to 5:00 on Saturday and Sunday. For more information, visit http://www.nhrenfaire.com/.
Written by George Philbrick