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Rob Jenkinson's Letters from America #3
by Rob Jenkinson
2006-09-15 11:20:21
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Summer drags on in the US. You’d think that they would have the odd cold day just to mix it up a bit, wouldn’t you? But no. They have a storm here and there, but sadly when this happens it tends to rip the tops of people’s houses off and flood the entire town and make everything even more humid.

So, I’ve been here four and a half months now (fanfare please) I’m allowed to work! Sadly, being allowed to work and getting work are two entirely separate things. But, my adventures in job hunting have taken me to Hollywood, Florida and New York City. Depressingly, I have now seen more of the country than the average American.

I recently got back from New York, which is really the city of all cities and feels a lot more European than your average American city. So it was quite a shock to come crashing back to American weirdness in the Midwest and go out to the local Renaissance Fair.

I’m sure that most of you will be aware of the concept of the Renaissance Fair from shows like The Simpsons or Family Guy. But for those of you that haven’t, let me explain:

A Renaissance Fair (or should I say “Fayre”?) is something that happens all over the country in the summer time and is a fake medieval village, which pretends it is in medieval times and has medieval shops, jousting tournaments, falconry and medieval style performances.

“Wait!” I hear you cry, “America didn’t have a medieval period in its history, so why do they do this?”


What happens is this; you drive to this village and pay to go inside. Once inside all the staff are dressed in medieval clothing and are talking to you in bad British accents.

Teenage worker: “Good day to you dear fello, how may I be of service to you on this fine afternoon?”
Me: “You what?”
Teenage worker: “Perhaps you would like an ale? The barkeep over there will only be too happy to serve you a pint of the finest ale in the entire fayre.”
Me: “You what?”

I was prepared for this though, I kept my dialogue down to a minimum, in case they thought I was doing a fake British accent and decided I was trying to engage in some medieval banter. What I wasn’t prepared for was this:

That’s right, your eyes aren’t deceiving you, dear friend. It’s real enough. The general American public gets dressed up and walk around and pretend that they’re medieval British people as well as the staff. It’s almost impossible to tell who works there or doesn’t.

It’s sweet in a way. Say what you like about Americans, but they’re “do-ers”. As a rule, we northern Europeans will not do anything that requires effort and has a risk of possible ridicule. Americans love it and will throw themselves into it full heartedly.

I mean, these people keep these medieval clothes and get them out once a year so they can go to the Renaissance Fair in full costume. I find it weird, but it’s just another thing to do in the year along with Halloween, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter and Christmas.

After a while of walking around like I was in a bizarre dream, it was whilst staring at this woman’s pole covered in fur, that I realised what this is all about.

It’s like a cross between a theme park and a craft fair rolled into one surreal package. When you look at it that way, it kind of makes sense… but not really.

Just as I was getting my head around where I was, it was time to leave and we made for the exit. On the way out, I heard some tribal drumming and random screaming. “What now?” I thought, I then turned the corner and found this:


What is it? Well, it’s a mass belly dancing, tribal drumming and random screaming session. Why?


Seriously, about 50 people all crowded together and dancing “sexily” to the beat of 15 drummers with no sense of rhythm and randomly screaming.

I shook my head and left. But this was blocking the exit.

I felt dizzy and sick. Maybe it was the ale, but I knew it wasn’t. The giant jester turned to me and stared right into my frickin’ soul. I think I blacked out at this point. How I got home, I don’t know. Well, ok, my wife took me. But, it was pretty terrifying.

For more information, you can go here: www.renfair.com/bristol

But be afraid. Be very afraid.

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Asa2006-09-13 12:49:10
Are there shops in the US that sell furry poles because I want one!

Tony2006-09-13 18:21:12
I'm amazed you can't get furry poles on eBay. Clearly there is a demand. I wonder if Froogle can help...

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