Recently, here in the TRF offices (or maybe it was a conversation in my car- I am married to the Marketing Director, so the line between work and home is pretty fuzzy), we got to talking about this phenomenon of Clans who come to faire as large groups, usually dressed in themes, with names and long-standing traditions. We thought it might be fun to hear from some of you who participate in Clans, so we sent out a call on Facebook. These are highlights from the groups we’ve heard from, though we are sure there are more.
Clan Brigadoon “My name is Stephanie and I am a founding member of the Clan Brigadoon. Brigadoon was one of the first Clans to be established at TRF in the early 90’s, and one of the oldest Clans now. Chaos was the other Clan making its mark during that time as well. Brigadoon is a mix of pirates, peasants, bellydancers, drummers….We were formed by three Faire goers…our 3 Kings. Once we all discovered TRF camping,we began camping in GP small Army tents.Over the years, our Clan grew. We don’t hold initiations or ceremonies. We all feel that ‘Your vibe attracts your Tribe.’ Once we started camping, I brought up the name Brigadoon, based on the movie that tells the tale of a Scottish village that appears from the mist once every hundred years…but only for one day. Well, we incorporated that we may not show up once every hundred years, but every year when TRF starts. One of the traditions Brigadoon started was the large drum circle/bonfire at the current location in the TRF campgrounds. We always held a drum jam in the middle of our circle but over the years, it became so large we couldn’t keep control of it. One weekend a season, Brigadoon also has a wine & cheese party. It’s a great way for us to host a great night with other Clans!!! We enjoy coming together every year because most times, it is the only time we can all be in one place at the same time. We are a family. We have a long history with each other, and do our best to represent Faires and meet other people and Clans. Once we are all together, it’s cooking, and laughing, telling stories, making music, dancing and kidding around.”
The Pirates of the Bleeding Maiden Another group we heard from was the Pirates of the Bleeding Maiden. Last fall, on the Friday of the Faire’s opening weekend, my husband Travis and I were out making rounds on the golf cart, and we encountered these guys. They were fantastic! Super hospitable with an amazing camp set up. Darcy, aka Scarlet, Fleet Bosun for the PotBM, had this to say about her clan: “We are the Pirates of the Bleeding Maiden (pirates, buccaneers, seafaring brigands). In 1996, 8 friends were convinced by others to go tent camp at faire. They had so much fun they returned the next year and brought some of their friends. Over the years we have grown to a group of over 200 pirates. As our group grew we divided into ship crews. As more and more crews were established we appointed an Admiral to lead the fleet. Once we had over 100 members the original Admiral was promoted to Pirate King and two Admirals were appointed to manage the crews. They are known as the Key 3. This is our current hierarchy. To date we have 17 crews that tent camp together once a year at TRF, forming a path down the middle of camp we call Pirate Road. This is where everyone gathers to socialize.” Another group member, Lee, shared a few of their traditions, “We nearly have a book of traditions at this point. It depends on your position within the armada, number of years attended, etc. The primary traditions include the flag ceremony on Friday, Group picture on Saturday, the Captains meeting in the Prince of Wales Pub, and the presentation of newcomers.” When describing their camp, Darcy says, “At camp we have semi-permanent structures that are brought every year to the grounds. We have a large gate of flags displayed at the front of the camp. These flags are individual crew flags and the fleet flag. As crews are added they are required to bring a flag of their own design for the gate every year… Another is a large crow’s nest for pirates to climb up on and view camp. If a pirate comes to camp for 2 years they are given a piece of rigging from the ship. This is a piece of rope that can be tied onto pirate garb. During the year one of the admirals gives out 3-4 challenges for crews to participate in, if they choose to. These challenges require crews to work together and points are awarded. The crew that acquires the most points is deemed the winner and is presented with a trophy on Saturday night at camp. The trophy is a ships wheel constructed by the Key 3. The wheel is taken back to the home city of the crew who wins it. The crew spends the next year with the wheel. Pictures must be taken throughout the year and presented at the awards ceremony before the trophy is given to the next year’s winner.” When I was reading through the various clans’ e mails, I was amazed to discover that the PotBM have extended their love for Faire out into the community, working with a youth organization to provide tickets to kids who cannot afford to come. “A few years ago we decided that even a group of pirates can give back to the community. We have been working with The Boys and Girls Country in Houston. Our goal every year is to send all kids at the organization to faire who want to go. We work with the organization to determine how many tickets are needed for kids and chaperones. We then raise enough money within our fleet to purchase them. If any children attend faire the same weekend as the fleet we ask that they meet us at the gate for a group picture before they enter faire. Our hope is that the kids enjoy the faire as much as we do and continue to attend throughout the years.”
Dragon Tears Meade Another group we heard from was the Dragon Tears Meade Clan. It started as a family group, but has extended to a “fairemily,” a concept many of us at TRF are familiar with. From Jessica: “We are the Dragon Tears Meade Clan; our look varies but is generally medieval/renaissance garb, though we recently were adopted by some Assassins! We formed roughly in 2006, when my spouse, Michael and I were married at TRF. The wedding was a huge success and we decided to meet every year to celebrate our anniversary, enjoy the Faire, and meet with friends who lived far and wide. My mom, husband and I all plan and prepare the meals for the entire clan (35+ people). We also bring our own meade and share with friends.Our main tradition is the Saturday night feast, followed by attendance at Drum Circle (we have several fine drummers in the Clan), and a few members attended the first Masquerade Ball last year. We also meet Saturday afternoon at the Ded Bob Show for some hearty laughs and fun as Ded Bob jokes and bonks his way across the Globe Stage.” When asked what they find especially appealing about attending in a big cohesive group, Jessica replied, “We share the spirit of camaraderie, we look after one another and know that even though we don’t get to see each other more than once or twice a year, if we’re lucky, that when we are a faire, we are a family.” Jessica’s mother, Gretchen added this: “The friendships and camaraderie of our group extends beyond the Faire, but coming together once a year gives everyone a chance to catch up with each other and share the ups and downs of everyday living. As a group, we are able to cast off our worries and celebrate the Faire Gathering provided by our Gracious King Henry and his Court.”
The DrunkMonks Scott Carr describes the Monks as “a group of about 75…We have been coming as a group for about twelve years, we do a pub crawl through the Faire and invite other clans to join us. We are a jovial group! The TRF experience is what you make it, we make it incredible.”
Finally, I leave you with Darcy’s description of why clans and Faire are so important to so many people: “We are an amazing group of pirates. We come from many different places but we all have common interests. We gather throughout the year as much as we can and have formed lifelong friendships. We’ve gone from a small group of crazy college kids to ‘adults’ that get to be college kids at least one weekend of the year. There is nothing better than camping with a group of friends for the weekend.” We here at TRF know that camping and friends are vital aspects of the Faire experience for many of you. We hope you’ll keep on coming and inviting new folks into your awesome groups!