Calling all knights, princesses and pirates
The Weyers-Hilliard library travels back in time to give Green Bay a taste of Renaissance history
By Rachel Sankey
Hear ye, hear ye!
The Brown County Library’s Weyers-Hilliard branch in Howard is taking a break from the 21st century and heading back to the 14th to delve into a world of the past with its Renaissance Faire.
The library hosted its first Renaissance Faire in 2019, but Amy Greatens, a library service associate for Weyers-Hilliard, said, like many other events, the faire took a two-year pause in 2020-21 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Greatens, a Renaissance Faire (Ren Faire) enthusiast herself, said it was her idea to bring a Ren Faire to Green Bay and is excited to again be able to offer it to the community.
“My husband, stepson and I are big Ren Faire buffs,” she said. “There used to be a Brown County Renaissance Faire that was held at the fairgrounds, and there used to be one up in Door County, but those don’t exist anymore. So there’s really nothing in Northeast Wisconsin for those of us who enjoy this kind of thing to get our fix. I decided it would be a fun way to bring this to the people of the area.”
Renaissance Faires are a way for people to step back in time and experience what life would have been like during the Renaissance era (1300-1700).
“Of course, it’s only the good things, there’s no plagues or anything like that,” Greatens said. “We have toilets. You don’t have to go to the privy.”
She said the Brown County Library’s Renaissance Faire will include booths where people will demonstrate some of the skills used during the Renaissance era, such as a blacksmith from Dirty’s Blacksmith Shop, pottery demonstrations from local artist Mary Beth Balch and the Traveling Treadlers, who work with fiber arts.
There will also be a magician, family-friendly archery, educational talks about birds of prey and historical hunting hounds.
Vendors will also be on site with goods to purchase, such as handmade soap by Crazy Raven and handmade clay art by Chairfully Made.
Another Renaissance era activity available to attendees is buffering.
“You’ll have a chance to beat your friends or enemies with foam weapons,” Greatens said. “There are area live-action roleplay groups that are going to come in. They do a demonstration and then people can participate with family-friendly foam weapons.”
Costumes are not required, though Greatens said participants are encouraged to dress up in Renaissance-era clothing, or anything that looks historic and relevant to the time period.
“Basically anything that looks royal, so you could be a lord or a lady,” she said. “Think of hoop skirts, corsets and boots. Kilts are very common. You could go the pirate route, and dress more like a ruffian. Those are kind of the main things you see. However, basically anything that’s kind of historical.”
As for common misconceptions, Greatens said Renaissance Faires aren’t just for “nerdy” people, and there is something for everyone at the faire.
And, since the Green Bay faire will be on a smaller scale than other Renaissance Faires, such as in Bristol, she said it allows people to test it out and see if it is something they would be interested in.
Becky Phillips, the manager of the Weyers-Hilliard and Pulaski branches, said this year’s Renaissance Faire would not be possible without the help of the Friends of the Brown County Library.
Phillips also said she is excited to get back to large-scale programming.
“As a library, we’ve really felt the pandemic,” she said. “We love to serve the people. So it’s going to be really great to have a safe, outdoor space and have a really big event to showcase what we can provide as far as an historical and cultural event.”
The Renaissance Faire runs from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday, May 21, and is free to attend. Those who wish to receive a schedule of the day’s events can reach out to the Weyers-Hilliard branch at 920-448-4405 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rachel Sankey is the associate editor of Green Bay City Pages. She can be reached via email at email@example.com.