The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Brianna Wray
The Times 

Renaissance in Review

Society for Creative Anachronism will visit Preston Park, May 3-5

 

April 25, 2019

Brianna Wray

Weezil has been twisting wire and forging blades for many seasons. At his booth, everyone is welcome to hammer out a ring of their own. Getting the size right is the tricky part. "You can't make them smaller again," jokes Weezil, "If it's too big and you still want it to fit, then what you have to do is just hit that finger the right amount to make it swell. That'll fix it for ya, but you have keep doing it."

WALLA WALLA-This past weekend in the shadow of the Whitman clock tower, time rewound for the 50th Annual Renaissance Faire.

The word renaissance in French and English (rinascita in Italian) refers to a "rebirth" of art and culture and a revived interest in classical cultures. In the 14th century it meant a revived enthusiasm for Greek and Roman philosophy that had been lost, left unnoticed or was cast aside in the Middle Ages.

Today, we revive the revival. Tournaments with violent outcomes were considered, at the time, to be evidence of the novel concept of democratic election. Those battles are reimaged with foam swords and shields so that participants can get a feel for combat. This activity, known as boffing, is live action role-play at its finest.

The Faire is designed to give visitors a glimpse of historic lifestyles first hand. At a time when the printed word was new, a town crier's announcement was a lifeline to the community. The aristocracy were dressed immaculately, to the envy of others, but were burdened with duty and purpose.

Historically, one would have to be born into a royal family line to be queen, but at Whitman students select the faculty or staff member of choice to be honored. This year's queen, Jen Pope, is access services manager for the Penrose Library. Her Faire duties include dancing around the maypole, greeting guests and advising her knights.

It seems everyone's hands are busy. Richard Czyhold, the local blacksmith, demonstrates how forging techniques whose fundamentals were discovered at the Renaissance are still practical. His hand operated blower pushes air over hot coals to heat the steel and iron.

The Renaissance was also an era of great legends and mythological beasts. The crowd parts for the red scaly dragon Morgana and her friend and puppet master, Herb Leonhard. Having heard stories of fire breathing dragons, children approach Morgana cautiously.

Brianna Wray

Tribal style belly dancer, Sabine, graced the stage with isolated muscle gyrations.

Julie Caton, dressed head to toe in period regalia cheers on the dancers. "This is my twentieth faire," she continues, "I started when I was a student, I graduated and I stayed in town. Now I advise the club."

The Renaissance Faire and its weekend of programming comes together with the help of live musicians like Skweez the Weezle, a high energy Celtic band, merchant coordinators like Kaitlin Harrison and volunteers.

It's never too early to prepare for next year's festivities. Find more information at: https://www.whitman.edu/faire/merchants_info.htm.

And be sure to visit Waitsburg's Preston Park on May 3-5 for the Society for Creative Anachronism's annual Newcomer's Encampment where newcomers can experience the Middle Ages and Renaissance firsthand.

 

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