I used to work at the airport in Newark. We had a grubby man who came up every week to buy a ticket home to North Carolina. He looked horribly ill-kemp, spoke with a pronounced southern accent, and paid cash for his tickets. While some others did not particularly like to wait on him, I found him to be charming. It turned out, he owned a salvage and disposal company in New Jersey, and commuted. He was probably one of the wealthiest--and most humble--customers we had travel on our flights. And he was also one of our most loyal customers.
This week, I became aware that several acquaintances were wary of allowing their middle school students to attend a county-wide field trip festival day to a Renaissance Faire, based primarily on the notion that they didn't like the kids being exposed to "those kinds of people".
What kind of people? Actors? Artisans? Merchants?
I suspect the prejudice here is that in keeping with the characters they portray, many of "those people" sport long hair, tattoos, pierced ears (and occasionally eyebrows), and facial hair.
Gasp and Guffaw!
Truth be told, I have been involved with Renaissance faires for nearly thirty years both as patron, and occasionally as performer/server. The fact is, the majority of the faire folk are employed in regular jobs throughout the week, or they are busy creating the wares they sell.
I knew a man who sold medical equipment for twenty years (suit and tie and all), before he decided to try his hand at selling custom designed boots on the renfest circuit. He lost the suit, grew a beard, and made a modest living traveling the country working for a west coast based company that created the footwear. And he found wonderful happiness in his work. He would definitely be classified as one of "those people".
I have known people who worked as martial arts instructors, teachers, accountants, booksellers, and even architectural and engineering design assistants who spent their weekends donning period costumes and affecting accents to create a world from the past, for the enjoyment of others.
These are the people we're supposed to be wary of?
The same people who are eager to label the law school student as a ne'er do well because of his garb and coif, are likely to proclaim a book with the word "sorcerer" in the title, a heinous creation of some atheistic monster. Consider how ludicrous that last supposition is. Now, consider how on-the-mark it is.
The performers are just that. They adopt a character and perform for their target audience. When the county sends the schools to the faire on that special day, the performers, and vendors, and artisans will cater to that special target audience. I doubt that they will judge the teachers or the masses by the rudeness of a few patrons. I doubt that they judge the crowd by their lack of costume, or the money in their pockets, but will focus on the laughter, and the smiles, and the joy that they, as performers, inspire.
And if, by some miracle, a student ends up picking up a book, or doing some research on the Renaissance period, or takes up fencing, then maybe those who were initially so concerned will take the time to thank "those kinds of people" for their dedication.
I know. I doubt it, too. But it is wishful thinking.