RenFest, the other white meat

Last Saturday, we went to the Museum Comes to Life.  It was freezing, but we kept warm with fresh kettle corn, questionable hot dogs and ample heartburn.

In case you've never been, here's my colorful and most likely inaccurate impression.  Each era of reenactment has it's own "camp" so to speak: from the more mainstream Civil War dudes right outside the museum, to the eccentric medieval Society for Creative Anachronism pitching their tents in the far-flung reaches of the rose garden.  The Union and Confederacy trade cannon blasts and the S.C.A. beat the crap out of each other's armor with wooden swords and duct-taped axes while everything in between roams the grounds, from Highlanders to trappers to girl scouts to Allied soldiers to tie-dyed hippies in a van (I think they were with the museum) to even a couple scrawny Centurions, dwarfed by their own impressive armor and crimson-brushed helmets, who wandered over to the Yankees' display only to receive a chorus of, "Garr!  It's those Romans again!  Yer roamin' in the wrong place, fellas!"

July discovered an acquaintance of hers leading the bagpipe procession.  She's worked with him for seven years and has never before known he played the pipes, nor seen his bare knees.  They stopped right by us to play a few lively tunes followed by a mournful one.  Then, at a whispered word from a man in breeches, cloak and plumed hat, July's friend turned to her and muttered, "Gotta go.  The weird S.C.A. people want a parade."

Inside the museum, I found a coworker of mine churning butter and baking bread in a real Victorian kitchen that used to be part of a Boise house before it was razed in the 70s.  Eerily disembodied under spotlights against the black backdrop of museum walls and ceiling, the room is tacked piecemeal onto a porch, parlor and dining room from other vanished houses… sad, surreal refugees of urban renewal.

For an extra dose of surrealism, my coworker suddenly jumps the railing into the saloon to serenade some truculent-looking cowboys and miners with the player piano.  The stuffed, two-headed calf watches from its unlikely perch on the bar.

Back outside in the cold, girl scouts have given up hocking their cookies but the caller by the log cabin is starting up a new dance and the Scots are winding their way through the inventions exhibits to the tune of "Yankee Doodle," trailing the nerdiest, sluttiest, clanking mob of lords and ladies who all grin and wave like they're riding a float down Capitol.

July and I start our long walk to the car we left several blocks away.  First to die away are the clang of the blacksmith's anvil and the square dance music.  Then the bagpipes fade.  As we pass the steaming hot dog stand, we catch a few notes from a couple of vagabonds in leather fringe heading down a garden path with mandolin and fiddle.  I wish we could follow them, but we strike out alone across the empty park, away from all the voices, delicious smells and fluttering standards.  I catch one last glimpse of purple and scarlet among the white S.C.A. tents before we head across the bridge to the concrete storeys of the university, downtown and reality.

Thanks for a great day, you Idaho State Historical Society you.  Now for Oktoberfest.

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1 Response to “RenFest, the other white meat”


  1. 1 Kahaha Wahine October 10, 2007 at 11:37 am

    May I just say that this is probably the most accurate report anyone
    will ever receive in regards to said festivus…others are either too
    busy partaking in said events or trying to think of ways to participate
    next year…or just completely ignorant of the cheese. But then, I like
    you and your desciprtions and am thus branded "Biased"….
    But I tried.


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