Bristol Renaissance Faire celebrates 25th anniversary
Chivalry is certainly not dead at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, which runs for nine weekends from July to Labor Day.
Just west of Interstate 94’s Russell Road exit, near Kenosha, Wis.
10 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturdays-Sundays to Sept. 2, and on Labor Day, Sept. 3
Tickets, $19.95 for adults and $9.50 for children
renfair.com or (847) 395-7773
Updated: August 8, 2012 4:08PM
Walking into the Bristol Renaissance Faire is like walking into another world, one where a cast of characters paint the scenes with vibrant antics and interactive revelry.
That cast has included Brian Leo, who has been a part of the summer attraction for 23 of its 25 years.
He even performed for several years in King Richard’s Faire, which became the Bristol Renaissance Faire.
“It’s like a reunion with old friends, almost like a summer camp,” Leo said.
“It’s also a chance to make people really happy. I know how to do it. I’m good at it. It’s nice to see people smile. I work insurance claims and nobody smiles.”
Leo’s accomplishments at the Bristol Renaissance Faire range from being an actor and director of medieval morality plays and a member of a rowdy madrigal group to conducting Sunday services in character and in period.
“The most challenging was the Sunday services,” said Leo. “When I agreed to conduct those services, I didn’t realize it was going to be after the gate opened, which means we’re in a different century. I had to create a different character to be distinct from my bawdy character and with a different accent.
After years of performing with his then-wife in a comedy duo, Leo’s role this year is that of Tinker, a musician.
“Now I’m working without a net. It’s quite daunting,” he said of his solo role as a Scottish folk singer.
“I don’t sing a song that I don’t personally understand. I will do whatever research. Having then learned that, I have to explain that to audiences so they can understand and appreciate it. I want them to understand why it was written and what the emotions were. I find my audience is very responsive to that.”
The village that brings visitors back to 1574 is celebrating its 25th anniversary weekends through Labor Day near Kenosha, Wis.
“It offers far more than people think it does. They have their image of turkey legs, but we have so much more. The level of talent is quite professional,” Leo said.
Entertainment will include
steampunk bagpipe group Klaxton, the juggling of the London Broil Show, and the all-female Seelie Players’ debut of “Sirena: From Down Below We Sing.”
Returning headliners include Doktor Kaboom and his scientific diversions, Celtic rock group Tartanic, the Clan Tynker family circus, and aerialist Lauren Murray.
Some of Bristol Renaissance Faire’s visitors can be just as colorful as Leo and the other performers.
“There’s been an enormous camaraderie not only among performers but patrons,” he said. “There is a whole category of patrons who show up in costume and consider themselves part of the village. We’re having a reunion with them as well as each other.”