Renaissance fair is first love of Janesville's Muetz family

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Thursday, May 14, 2009
— Imagine the scents and the sounds of the Rock County 4-H Fair but on a smaller scale, in a more natural setting with thousands of people in costumes.

That's how Chris Muetz sums up the Janesville Renaissance Faire for newcomers who will have the opportunity to attend this year's festival Saturday and Sunday at Traxler Park.

"I really love getting into the crowds, meeting the people and finding neat things to shoot," said the part-time professional photographer from Janesville.

"I also enjoy the music, food and the smells," he said.

Muetz, 43, is not alone.

He and his family are "Rennie" fanatics.

Although they've been attending renaissance faires for quite a while, Muetz's wife, Laura, daughter, Lizzy, and son, John, first started working at the Bristol Renaissance Faire, Kenosha, in the summer of 2008.

As members of the Guilde of St. Lawrence, they volunteer to cook an affordable meal for the cast and crew of the faire while imitating middle class merchants and townsfolk.

"Its' awesome," said Lizzy, a 16-year-old Parker High School junior who also loves to read.

"Going to a renaissance faire is like being (a character) in the book," she said.

John, 13, loves being around the people at renaissance faires.

"They're kind of weird in a good way. You can be yourself and be silly," said the Franklin Middle School student.

Laura, 46, likened a renaissance faire to "walking into a novel and being part of it."

While at the faires, Laura, John and Lizzy are always dressed in garb—layers of costumes Laura created from colorful linen tablecloths and upholstery fabrics.

The three are full cast members at Bristol and performed in 2008 at the Janesville Renaissance Faire, where you'll be able to see them again this year.

"We represent the middle class of the Elizabethan society, are the food co-op for the faire, and prepare and serve the food the characters eat," Laura said.

Laura portrays Beatrice Greenwood, aunt of the innkeeper's wife. Lizzy plays Grace Brunswick of the middle class, while John is Thomas Taylor, apprentice of the innkeeper.

"We're not allowed to break character" while at the faire, Laura said.

All three attended the Bristol Academy of Performing Arts, a requirement to work at Bristol. During the six-week course, they learned about manners, etiquette and speech to make the faire a pleasing experience for patrons. They also learned about safety and how to avoid heat exhaustion in their multi-layered costumes, Chris said.

Laura, Lizzy and John hope to soon enroll in advanced Bristol performing arts classes that focus on dialect, costuming, props, character development, dancing and singing, they said.

"It's living history. What better way to learn about a time period?" said Laura, a special education teacher at Parker High School.

In addition to being part of the Bristol Renaissance Faire every weekend after Memorial Day through Labor Day, the Muetzes also attend other renaissance faires throughout the Midwest.

The faires provide more quality family time, they said.

"It allows us to simply put our daily struggles behind and have fun," Chris said.

Laura agreed: "It's a safe, fun environment where we get to express ourselves and a nice outlet for all of us."

Last updated: 10:26 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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