For those of you that do not know it I am a performer in the vocal group, Bounding Main. We have been together for over twelve years, performing on stages across the Midwest United States but also in Quebec, the Netherlands, France, Germany and Poland. As a costumed American group in the maritime music genre we have enjoyed these performance opportunities and the friendships that we’ve made with fans, fellow musicians and venue organizers.
Last weekend we performed both days at an event in a modestly-sized city in Wisconsin called Janesville. Ten years ago a group of friends and Janesville residents came together to run a one-weekend renaissance faire in their home town. Because they were all veteran performers and historical reenactors this was a great choice for them. The key difference with this group from some other organizations is that it has been their mission to disseminate the profits from the event to local shelters and scholarships.
Janesville has seen its share of hard times over the last ten years, not least of which was the closure in 2009 of a GM assembly plant in town. While the possibility exists to restart production at the plant this year if the United Auto Workers and General Motors agree to it, the town has suffered considerably from the loss of 750 jobs.
The core group behind the Janesville Renaissance Faire love their community and they work tirelessly every year to take in and distribute food donations, promote the event, raise corporate sponsorships, attract interesting vendors and – most of all – an audience to come through the gates in sufficient numbers to keep the event going the following year.
The 2015 show was successful in that, despite the forecast of high temperatures and constant thunderstorms (completely unrealized) they were able to draw in a large enough audience to cover their expenses with enough left over to meet their anticipated community contributions. And it is a fun show, too! There are many vendors of both food and products, there are historical reenactors putting on demonstrations, there are dance troupes, theater troupes and several musical groups as well. It is good, family-fun – the kind of thing to bring a smile and a laugh to a town that can use the happiness.
Bounding Main is proud to have been participating in this event nearly from its beginning. Chris Last, Heather Winterling Last and Rick & Shelly Kakouris and a long list of family members and volunteers have done such great work. We are so proud of them and the higher standard that they set for all of us.