The folk tradition of the Renaissance Faire originated on the west coast during the early ‘60s. It wasn’t until 1972, with deep passion for the arts and theater, that couple Bonnie and Richard Shapiro opened the first King Richard’s Faire in the Midwest. By 1982, they had brought it to Carver, Massachusetts and for over 30 years it has remained a magical playground for kids and adults alike.
The Faire is still a family owned and operated business run by mother-daughter Bonnie Harris Shapiro and Aimee Shapiro Sedely. It still commemorates the vision that the late King Richard Shapiro had intended for the faire.
Shapiro was also the Elvis concert promoter who famously said: “Elvis has left the building.”
Upon my entry into the realm, I felt a strange pang of culture shock, rattling my nerves and leaving me bedazzled. The modern world instantly dissolved and I was surrounded by a mob of people, some boldly dressed in medieval apparel. At the gate, I was greeted by a crowned and bearded man dressed in a robe, holding a god-fearing stick who introduced himself as The Green Man of the woods.
I spoke with Beatrix while waiting for the beer wench to fetch me my ale, about why she came out to the faire.
“I’ve been coming ever since I was a kid. I love this time of year and love dressing up. The medieval times were so romantic and poetic. I would’ve loved to live back then.”
Being the 30th anniversary for King Richard’s Faire, they have added some more excitement to the magical realm including a beheading and hanging that takes place near sundown at the Joust for Death.
After the afternoon tournament, I was invited on to the jousting stage to speak with Jouster and jousting director for the faire, Sir Joseph Lord of Lincoln.
“Put your hand out, lad, heavy eh?” he says.
“I’ve got 100 pounds of armor on me.”
He dropped his right arm on to my hand as my left arm collapses from the weight.
“This is dangerous what we do out here,” he says. “I’ve had my shoulder dislocated before. And there’s been cracked ribs.”
For Sir Joseph Lord of Lincoln, jousting is no doubt for the spectators entertainment, but like an athlete, it is a sport and his livelihood. Traveling year round, he and his other jousters make their way throughout many renaissance festivals bringing authenticity and theatrical reenactments of the times.
Aside from my obsession with the jousters, there is plenty more to offer inside the realm like dancing rats of Cirque du Sewer, Ses Carny the Torture Guy and world famous vaudeville performer Danny Lord. Also, there is plenty of Turkey legs, beer (I was so distracted by everything that I never did achieve getting wasted) traditional music, good humor, great merchandise and lots of interesting folks.
They stand everywhere in costume: celebrating, getting along and
forgetting about what reality means for a day.
KING RICHARD’S FAIRE
WEEKENDS THROUGH 10.23.11
235 MAIN ST.
KIDS 4-11, $15