Yule Faire brings gypsies, fairies, pirates to GV
Kirkhof Center filled with an abundance of merchants and people dressed in traditional medieval clothing on Dec. 1, where the Grand Valley State University Renaissance Festival celebrated their second annual Yule Faire, leading guests into a world of gypsies, fairies, pirates and more.
Outside vendors offered everything from clothing and jewelry to incense and tarot card readings, while the club itself provided live caroling, traditional Renaissance dancing and free refreshments. Olde World Music Club, led by president Evan Semeneck, also performed several times throughout the day.
The Olde World Music Club, previously known as the Celtic Club, is a completely separate entity, although several members are also a part of the Renaissance Festival.
“We’re just a large group of friends that like to get together and play music – anywhere from Lord of the Rings to medieval music,” Semeneck said.
Members of the Renaissance Festival were all in character, not only dressed in the full attire, but many also speaking with well-practiced accents.
Brianna Shahly, also known as Lady Elizabeth, is head of entertainment and character development for the club. It is her job to book all of the entertainment for events and help members create a unique character, while teaching them her knowledge of audience interaction and live theater.
Within the club there is a hierarchy made up of many separate factions. At the top, just under the Queen of England, is nobility, followed by cross and crown, merchants, wenches, townsfolk, gypsies, and at the very bottom, pirates. Also disconnected from the rest, is a fae faction, which includes all mythological creatures such as fairies and elves.
“I basically encourage members to find their place in these factions and create their own characters,” Shahly said. “The club is a bunch of tight knit groups within one large tight knit group.”
Each of the factions has their own roles to play during the organization’s faires. For instance, the wenches, not to be confused with ladies of the night, are working women who sell chocolate roses at faire, Shahly said.
Every so often throughout the faire, the wenches all gather together and find a few men that they deem suitable. The men are then given the option to strip down to the waist and kneel before the lady, at which point she will place kisses on his head and face with bright lipstick – lips are off limits unless the lady has laid claim on the gentleman.
“Gentlemen cannot take wench marks off until they leave the faire, otherwise they will be thrown in jail for removing their marks of honor,” Shahly said. “Gentlemen are always allowed to decline wenches if he is not comfortable.”
Leader of the pirates, Michelle White, also known as Captain Mishap Molly, said she likes costuming for events and the club provides her with a fun opportunity to interact with patrons and friends.
The Yule Faire differs from the Renaissance Faire the group puts on each year, according to Shahly.
“This event is different from our main faire that takes place in the fall, because the venue is a smaller, more intimate setting and it showcases our own skills,” Shahly said.
Guests at the faire were also given the opportunity to partake in a scavenger hunt, where they were given clues hidden in Christmas poems that led to certain characters – each with a different piece of the history of Christmas.
Once participants found all of these people, they had to take the clues to a Scrooge character and try to convince him or her why Christmas is exciting. Prizes were awarded to the people who actually convinced the Scrooge.
The end of the Yule Faire leads the Renaissance Club into preparation for the Duke’s Ball, an educational event that takes place in February. This event will include traditional Renaissance dances, a weapons demonstration and a historical presentation.
For more information check out www.gvrenfest.org