For many folks in the Milwaukee area, summer doesn’t begin with Summerfest or fireworks. It begins when they strap on a rapier, peel on some leather gloves, and hoist a giant turkey leg down at the Bristol Renaissance Faire over the weekends of July and August. Bristol begins July 8 this year, which marks the 30th anniversary of the festival near the border of Wisconsin and Illinois. Even as some of the elements of the Renaissance Faire have become more common outside of the grounds—like cosplay, fantasy roleplaying, and jousting—the organizers have cooked up some new things to celebrate their anniversary year.

Bristol Ren Faire was into cosplay before it invaded every nerd convention in the world. The Faire opens its doors to cosplayers of all shapes and sizes on July 29 and 30 this year, offering a costume contest to fandoms all across the nerd spectrum instead of those rare few who always show up dressed like Klingons because they think it’s funny. RennCon weekend joins their other themed weekends, like Steampunk Weekend August 5 and 6, Fantasy Weekend August 19 and 20, and Swashbuckler Weekend August 26 and 27.

Attendees are rarely lacking in photo ops thanks to the awesome costumes of both the attendees and the employees, but the Faire is adding several excellent photo ops to the mix for those folks who can barely muster a “Huzzah!” in the warm Kenosha sun. Six thrones deployed by the Kid’s Kingdom area offer a variety of chances for visitors to get pictures to post to social media doing their best King Joffrey impressions. The thrones have different themes, including dragons, witches, steampunks, and more.

Bristol Renaissance Faire runs Saturday and Sunday on every weekend in July and August, ending on Labor Day weekend.

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