Authentic brands start with authentic people — people who express a passion for what they do and an interest in sharing that passion even if you don’t buy something from them.
I was reminded of this lesson recently when my family and I made our annual visit to the Bristol Renaissance Faire in Wisconsin. From July to September, a woods just off the interstate is fashioned into the English hamlet of Bristol circa 1574. Both amateur Renaissance enthusiasts and professional entertainers adorn period dress and assume roles as minstrels, lords, and merchants each weekend from morning to evening. And all of them make the faire authentic for me although not necessarily for the reason you might think.
You can have a lot of fun without the internet
The first time I visited a few years ago, I didn’t think I’d enjoy the experience. I imagined jugglers getting in my face while I tried to eat a turkey leg. But my doubts subsided from the moment I began to explore the village. The experience seemed so real, so genuine, and not because of the period clothing. Rather, the boundless enthusiasm of the people felt real — their joy at expressing something bigger than themselves and their friendliness to everyone around them, regardless of who you are or how you dress. That’s what counts. Without their passion, the faire would feel phony regardless of how authentic the village of Bristol might look.
A happy couple out for a stroll
A case in point is the entertainer MooNie the Magnif’Cent, a minstrel who performs a highly popular comedy act. The joy in seeing MooNie comes from his love of the audience, really, not just his stage antics. It’s an important distinction. You can be a competent professional if you do your job well. But the bond you create with your customer, however brief the moment, makes the experience authentic.
MooNie playing with fire
Everyone loves MooNiE
Following are some additional images from a recent experience. If you live anywhere near Chicago or Milwaukee, check out the faire before it closes for the season Labor Day weekend.
Robin Hood and Maid Marion share a difference of opinion
A joker delights children
The faire delights children
Yes, they do joust at the faire
Mysterious tree fairies
Try not to annoy her
One of the many village musicians