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Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Blast From the Past: RenFaire Visits Bridgeport's Baldwin Park

“A Blast From the Past:
RenFaire Visits Bridgeport’s Baldwin Park”
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Bridgeport, CT – They came. They saw. They made large swords out of tinfoil and cardboard and jousted on bicycles.

This was just one element of fun attendees of the 2nd Annual RenFaire experienced from 6-10pm Thursday evening August 26 in Bridgeport’s Baldwin Park Plaza. The free “underground” medieval times-oriented event, promoted virally through social networking sites, was created and hosted by the Downtown Bridgeport Community Council (DCC), Melissa Bernstein and Jeff Mach.

“I just moved to New Haven and am starting to explore the local area. I heard about this and had to attend. I can’t wait to see the fire show!” said Emily (didn’t give last name), a fair-haired lass taking in all the sights and sounds.

The “fire show” she referred to was provided by an exotically dressed foursome that took turns swallowing fire, spraying fiery plumes from their mouths, interacting with flaming hula hoops and twirling balls of fire attached to chains. They performed at nightfall in the circular paved center of the plaza and had the rapt attention of all in attendance.

The center of the plaza had, at first, been occupied by life-sized Stonehenge blocks hand fashioned from brown paper and tubing. But windy gusts kept knocking them down so they were pulled back to the perimeter of the circle and mounted on existing metal posts. Later, people were given markers and permitted to graffiti the blocks.

Dominating one end of the grounds was a “Smite the Knight” attraction offering Faire-goers the opportunity to learn from and battle a “Knight of Gore” using a Nerf-like sword. Nearby, along a grassy strip, the aforementioned jousting took place, with “warriors” in homespun medieval outfits riding toward one another swinging their corrugated weapons of destruction.

At the other end of the plaza was t-shirt silkscreener Paradox, cranking out RenFaire ware on the spot using a simple wood frame, paints and an acetate template. Proprietor Liz “oohed” and “aahed” with each new creation, happily surprised with the results. As quick as she could produce these, fest attendees were purchasing them, also thrilled with the designs and desiring an event memento.

Liz was not the only designer onsite. Anyone with the gumption to take a piece of chalk in hand could test their talent drawing their own mural on the squares of the plaza. These were part of a competition to win modest cash prizes offered by a local art gallery.

“Mommy’s taking a long time with her chalk drawing!” protested 2-year-old Lily Dixon-Weekes about her mother Callie, who had really thrown herself into crafting one of these sidewalk designs.

Those that were not art-oriented could try out their musical talent on several drums, cymbals, penny flutes, guitars and other instruments offered for use. These were gratefully embraced by about a dozen people that managed to string together a beat and several enjoyable tunes.

This spontaneous music, as well as more structured folksy tunes provided by trio Bludrum, provided a good background for go-go dancing hula hoopers Veronica Vixen and Amy Irish to cruise about and do what they do. Others in attendance were just happy to relax in beach chairs, enjoy some food and drink, and look, chat and listen.

There was nothing evil about this medieval good time. Huzzah!