Not too hot under the armor for fall faire
It was a perfect day for a knight fight. And not just because pirates, fairies and royalty were watching.
Temperatures in the upper 50s made wielding a bamboo sword in a metal helmet and breath-stifling armor a bit easier Sunday for Bill Monroe, who goes by “Lord William” when he dons the 14th century Italian Gothic-inspired armor he forged himself.
“This is the ideal temperature. It can get hot under all this,” he said.
Fall weather was one of the perks to having the first Heroes’ Harvest Renaissance Festival & Fantasy Faire this past Friday through Sunday. Revelers of all ages wearing clothing that represented a variety of time periods and locations gathered on Monroe’s property and set up tents and booths beneath gold and tangerine leaves shading the dusty patch of river-adjacent land east of the 29 Road bridge. Participants could watch sword fights or archery tournaments, peruse a pumpkin patch, play games, practice black-smithing, visit a gypsy healer, sup on stew or listen to musicians.
The action may attract most people to renaissance fairs, according to Glenwood Springs resident Tom Sorensen. But he believes history and craftsmanship are often what hook participants for years.
Sorensen, who goes by “Egill Thorson” at fairs, can rattle off specifics about a variety of Viking-era instruments as he demonstrates them to newcomers and he knows plenty about the 10th century eastern Viking armor he wears in the fighting arena. He even explains the armor to audience members between battles and discusses how a blow would affect a contender if the weapons used in the arena were sharp enough to do real damage.
“Everything is designed to be relatively safe. That doesn’t mean you won’t come out with bruises,” he explained Sunday.
Angel “Angelhood” Drayer of Grand Junction said she has played everything from the kissing wench to the virginal unicorn tamer but loves her latest role as a fiber artist because it allows her to make her own wares. She spent the weekend at the fair spinning alpaca wool into yarn. She picked up the lengthy processes of spinning and weaving at renaissance fairs and can knit and crochet with the yarn she makes.
“I’ve always been one to make my own stuff,” she said. “A lot of times you can make something better and make something cheaper than if you bought it. It’s a challenge.”
The nonprofit Thunder Mountain Colorado Living History sponsored the fair, but participants came from various groups, each with a “like-minded interest to honor the tradition of chivalry,” according to Rutheyi Thompson of Grand Junction. Thompson has been dressing as a mid- to late-15th century French wine aficionado named “Zephyr” for 11 months. Her interest in re-living the past grew out of art history courses she took in college. She said festivals are a great place to learn from other people with similar interests and add to her own research into history, which she mostly conducts online.
“We’re very careful to make sure they’re good sources. Wikipedia isn’t always that reliable,” she said.