Let's face it: Renaissance faires have certain stigmas attached to them, the majority of which could hardly be considered positive. The term brings up images of overweight, disheveled history fanatics, hell-bent on debating the true geographical origin of the medieval catapult. Not everybody's cup of tea.
I can hardly say that I am familiar with Renaissance faires, and did not think that they were something that really "happened" in uppity Orange County. So I was more than surprised when I woke up this morning to the sight of dozens of pop-up tents, colorful banners, and jousting knights in the neighborhood park behind my house.
Despite the stigmas, I found myself intrigued. Maybe it was because I am an avid "Game of Thrones" fan. Maybe it was because I just got a new 20mm prime lens for my Nikon yesterday and was dying to try it out on some interesting subject material. Either way, around noon I found myself surrounded by what some might describe as the Epitome of Nerddom.
Visually, I found what I expected. The history buffs, the elaborate costumes, the adorned knights falling dramatically to the grass field as they were struck down by their opponents. I thought I had seen what there was to be seen after circling the park from a distance, but a woman named Rowena had other plans.
I was not truly inside the faire for more than two minutes before I found myself talking to Rowena, who was more than delighted - thrilled, actually - to share what was going on. She described to me the organization of the faire: its different baronies, its lords, its ladies, and the king and queen who governed it all.
Rowena said that the other costumed patrons of the faire would be happy to share about themselves as well, and she was not wrong. After I had talked to about five more people, I began to notice similarities. Everyone at the faire had something to take pride in. For some, it was the long hours they spent carefully crafting their dress, or their plumed hat, or their shield. For others, it was their knowledge of the era and their ability to share that knowledge with others. For others still, it was simply the fact that they were doing something they loved - and they were surrounded by people who loved it also.
The Renaissance faire was nothing short of a community of diverse individuals who were all incredibly passionate about what they do. They each knew that their unique piece in the puzzle - the "niche" filled by their own donned persona - was vital to the faire's illusion of truth. Without their plumed hat, or their canvas umbrella, or their scarlet gown, the faire wouldn't have been what it was.
So yes, my experience today hardly dispelled any of the stereotypes surrounding Renaissance faires. But there's something comforting in that, something nice in knowing that people come to the fair knowing full well what they will get out of it (garrulous geeks and all).
When you do something you love with the people you love, you don't care about stigmas.
And these two don't seem to care one bit.