A blast from the past will come to life in Canby this weekend — and it’s not just because it’s one of the first large in-person events to return to the Clackamas County Fairgrounds this summer after nearly three years due to Covid-19.
The beloved Oregon Renaissance Faire, a fun and family-friendly event organized by the nonprofit Washington Renaissance Arts & Education Society, will make its “triumphant return” to the fairgrounds over two weekends: June 4-5 and 11-12.
The Faire will be open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day and will feature live entertainment inspired by Renaissance-era Scotland — including a jousting tournament, falconry, aerial arts, a strongwoman, sailor songs, music, sword swallowing, storytelling and more.
It also features period food and drink, arts and crafts, artisans and souvenirs, artists, “quests” and other activities for the whole family.
As in previous years, the Faire’s underlying storyline is that of a fictional 15th-century village, Dunrose, pulling out all the stops for a royal visit by Mary Queen of Scots.
“It’s a Scottish-themed fair, so you’ll see a lot of bagpipes and Scottish garb,” Web and Marketing Director Shana Casey explained. “Whereas, if you come up to [the] Washington [Midsummer Renaissance Faire], that’s an Elizabethan fair, so it’s a little bit different.”
“It was such a roller coaster ride,” Casey recalled. “We want to only bring the absolute best show, and we thought operating at a 25% capacity just wasn’t going to measure up to what we’re used to bringing to Oregon. So we decided to wait until it was safe for all the people who will come and for our cast members as well.”
While WRAES is based in Washington, the organization has a special place in its heart for the little and ever-growing spinoff festival they founded in Canby in 2015.
“To be honest, we have such a soft spot for the Oregon Renaissance Faire,” Casey said. “For many of us, it is our favorite. The Oregon people are so amazing and just so grateful to have something like this in the area. It was heartbreaking for us to not be able to bring the fun and excitement for those two years.”
This year is going to be bigger and better than it’s ever been, Casey promises.
“I always tell people: Think about a cosplayer’s dream,” she said when asked to explain Ren fairs to a first-time attendee. “When people think about cosplay, they tend to think about conventions, not the Renaissance fairs and pirate festivals and things like that.
“It’s like Pirates of the Caribbean and Game of Thrones, and throw in a little bit of Outlander and every other fantasy you can think of because you’re going to see all of those sorts of people at the Renaissance Faire.”
The Renaissance era was the birth of so many advancements, particularly in the intellectual and creative realms, Casey said, and the Oregon Renaissance Faire seeks to capture some of that excitement in a way that is fun, educational and accessible.
“The Punch and Judy puppet show is a good example of that,” she said. “That’s something that has been around for hundreds of years. It’s a dying art, but the Punch and Judy shows that you can see at Renaissance fairs is so similar to the version from 300 years ago.”
The two weekends will be largely the same but will feature subtly different themes, with June 4-5 being dubbed the “Ultimate RenCon Cosplay Adventure” and June 11-12 a more supernatural and fantasy-themed “Mystical Wanderlust.”
“For all the people who have missed conventions, that first weekend is dedicated to every kind of festival and convention out there,” Casey said. “It’s for all the genres of geeks that exist out there and that we love so much. It’s like, ‘Hey, you want to wear that? Wear it to the Renaissance Faire.'”
Coming so early in June, Casey believes the Faire will help serve as the unofficial summer kickoff for many Oregonians.
“There’s going to be a lot going on this summer, so we really feel like the Oregon Renaissance Faire can be that gateway to the summer time,” she said.
For more information and tickets, visit oregonfaire.com.
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