Do Gnomes Belong in Renaissance Fairs?

Many gnome enthusiasts believe that gnomes originated in Germany in the early 1800s and that the first gnomes appeared in England in the 1840s. However, as I attended my very first Renaissance Fair in Bristol Wisconsin, I couldn’t help but notice gnomish influences all around me.


But wait! The Renaissance is categorized as the period of European history between the 1300s and the 1600s. So how did gnomes begin sneaking their way into these festival celebrations?

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “gnome” comes from Renaissance Latin gnomus, which first appears in the works of a 16th century Swiss alchemist named Paracelsus. He described gnomes as diminutive spirits that were small, lived underground, and appeared in Renaissance magic and alchemy. In his publications, Paracelsus wrote that gnomes were about a foot tall, could move through solid earth, and were weary of human contact. You can read more about Paracelsus’ gnomes in Alan G. Hefner’s essay, “Paracelus’ Natural Spirits,” and Princeton’s history of gnomes.

But as I walked around the Renaissance Fair chomping on an oversized turkey leg and admiring the costumes, I couldn’t help but notice more trolls, wizards, fairies, and elves than gnomes for sale. One fair vendor selling mushrooms had a lovely lady gnome with her two children on display. The vendor revealed that he and his wife used to run a Renaissance fair booth that was all about gnomes and sold gnomes in all shapes and sizes. I tried to convince him to bring that booth back next year…we’ll see.


I visited another fair vendor who created handmade pottery sculptures of all kinds. As you can see in this photo, gnomes sat alongside wizards, Santas, and leprechauns. Just as I find with Christmas markets each year, identifying true gnomes in crowds like this is always a challenge.

So I ask again, do gnomes belong at Renaissance Fairs?

As I see it, the purpose of a Renaissance Fair is to take a step back in history to enjoy a day in another place and time. So while the true origin of gnomes is still debated,  gnomes have a special place in history and I think they would really enjoy the Renaissance Fair activities. And if wizards, elves, and trolls are allowed to attend, then I see no reason for gnomes to be left out of the celebration! Cheers!

Roxy the Gnome

*A version of this story is scheduled to be published in the upcoming International Gnome Club Newsletter!

Happy Presidents’ Day From Our Most Presidential Gnomes

May I present ya’ll with ObamaGnome!

obamagnomeOh and here he is in a different outfit.

Obama-GnomeAnyone run into any other PresidentGnomes today? I think most of them have passed on to the gnomish afterlife, but just curious. Chance encounters with politicians has become my new specialty. Send the old hoots my way, will ya?

Trixie the biker chick gnome

Vintage 1978 Plush Forest Gnome Arrives at The Gnome Abode

Drunk gnomes love good company. And yesterday, we received a sparkling new addition to our family.


This little guy showed up at our doorstep most unexpectedly. I nearly turned the postman away, telling him that I hadn’t ordered any more cases of wine and that I didn’t appreciate solicitation.

Fortunately, some of the more sober gnomes in the house persuaded me to take in the package and begin tearing the cardboard box away. photo (1)

He seemed a little frazzled as he crawled his way out of the box. You see, he is a vintage 1978 gnome, created in the spirit of Wil Huygen’s legendary book, Gnomes.

We repeatedly asked where he came from, but as a gnome of few words, all he could do was simply gesture at his manufactured labeling.

“Knickerbocker” – read one label.

“Unieboek” – read another.

If you’re unaware, these are big names in the world of gnomes. We quickly realized that we had a full-blown celebrity on our doorstep!

photo (2)

He’s still a little shy and smells a teensy bit like grandma’s attic. But his fashion sense and hygiene is impeccable. You’d never know that the ole’ bastard is 35 years old in human years. That’s 275 in gnome years – and in the prime of his life, as the box kindly points out.

So let’s all take a moment to welcome our newest addition to The Gnome Abode!

Somebody buy this guy a drink!

And somebody give him a name! Sadly, he doesn’t seem to have arrived with his “Hello, My Name Is…” badge intact.

Cheers buddy!
King Jerry the Gnome

86% of the time, gnomes “go missing” because you bore them

From Your Local Guardian Newspaper:

A missing gnome appeal has gone out from a group of traders after their lucky mascot was snatched from his home beneath a Christmas tree.

The 10in gnome was last seen standing beneath the tree outside Budgens, in Stoneleigh Broadway on December 2, a few days after the street’s festive lights switch-on.

Your Local Guardian: Have you seen the missing gnome?

The theft of the smiling yellow, red and green statue was noticed by Stoneleigh councillor Mike Teasdale the following afternoon.

Coun Teasdale said the gnome had become the area’s unofficial mascot after being placed underneath the Broadway’s Christmas tree for the first time last year.

He said: “He has always been a quiet fellow and is unlikely to have wandered away on his own. 

“To date we have not received any ransom demand, so hopefully he will return, or be returned, in the next few days, and then the manhunt can be called off.

“The Christmas tree that he lived under also appears to have been attacked as some branches have been cut off. ”

Coun Teasdale said the miniature marvel only cost £1, but the community saw him as “our gnome”.

He added: “We would love the gnome back because everybody on the Broadway knew him.”

The councillor said the police have not been informed.