I attended the “first annual” Oregon Renaissance Festival of Hillsboro at the Washington County Fair Complex a couple weekends ago. This particular event ran for four consecutive weekends, so I timed one of my trips “into the city” to land on a Sunday.
I don’t have to wait for Halloween to don a costume, and I had several left over from my 30 years of teaching that would have been quite appropriate for the occasion. But dressing as a medieval serving wench came with a few unexpected “benefits.”
Putting everyone in the spirit was a plethora of roving costumed attendants. And before I was even halfway around my first lap, scanning the delightful booths and foodstuffs available, I was verbally bombarded with enough “thees and thous” to last me the rest of the afternoon!
But role-playing is fun, and I quickly joined in, trading barbs with the best of them. I made a few new friends, and had a great time pretending I was part of the show. And I guess for some of those dressed in 21st Century garb, they couldn’t tell the difference.
I was often stopped and asked directions to this or that stage or event, and since I’d done my initial reconnaissance upon arrival, I was always able to point the other patrons in the correct direction. I even offered “advice” on what times at which platforms they could enjoy the mini-shows. Apparently, not everyone knew how to use the handy, and highly accurate, map with list of events and times on the back!
But what struck me as a bit “odd” for a Renaissance Faire was the eclectic offerings of the events and performances. Of course, there were jousts on horseback and comedic washerwomen, and blacksmiths and leather tanners, and strolling minstrels and a hand-cranked Ferris wheel, and archery, axe-throwing and sword fighting events. But there was also a “large cats” show, concluding with a rare white tiger, unconfined by any form of cage. And there were belly dancers, and pirates, and sword-swallowers, magicians, and hypnotists, and even a large portable swimming pool with a mermaid in it!
Nevertheless, I had a fabulous time, $7.50 turkey legs notwithstanding. Seemed a little steep to me, and I was more tempted by the bread bowls filled with hearty potato chowder, and one meandering vendor, attracting his customers by hollering “Free Mustard!” which of course, was to put on the twisted rings of pretzels he sold.
It was an afternoon where all the senses were equally assaulted, and even the “60% chance of rain” managed to hold off till after the 7 p.m. closing. A good time was certainly had by all, and that certainly includes me!