Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire

Eliza went out of town for two days and I found myself alone on a Sunday. No biggie… the Ren Faire was happening in King’s Valley, Oregon, about 20 minutes north of Corvalis (home of OSU). I chose the more scenic route to Corvalis, taking highway 99 instead of I-5. I could drive 55 on 99 instead of trying to go 65 (my trooper can’t handle that) on I-5. Besides, I enjoyed the view, the winding road, the fields and farms, the hills, the fall foliage. It was a meditative experience for me.

Arriving at the fair an hour and a half after leaving Eugene I parked in the large field. The field was in rough shape. The grass was not uniform, it grew in clumbs which often tripped the feet while walking. I had to walk like a running back running through tires (keep your knees high). I paid my money and went into the fair. I was initially disappointed. I had told myself not to expect much, to keep my expectations down, but I was still disappointed. I was used to going to the Texas Renaissance Festival, a truly wonderful event with fields, groves of trees, permanent structures built on site, a rose garden, and much much more. It was a wonderful event that I longed to go to every year, and I’ve even considered going down to Houston just for the purpose of going to the faire. The Shrewsbury Faire was not even in the same league, it was 20 times smaller, had no permanent structures, not even a tree growing within the boundaries of the faire, and everything was tents. With such a gorgeous state as Oregon, with so many people in the PNW who love this sort of thing, and as crazy as we are about festivals during the summer (after a long rainy winter) it is a complete shock to me that there is nothing better than this in Oregon. After making one round I almost left the fair. In fact I was near the front gate, ready to leave, and I turned around and decided to stay. I just drove an hour and a half and would get at least an hour and a half out of the fair.

I went and looked more closely at the booths. I had bought a knight’s quest card with riddles on it. You guess which booth a riddle spoke of and you told the booth keeper you guess and if you were correct you recieved a bead to put on your string. I got one bead. I started late and I kinda lost interest in getting beads, but it did get me to stay a bit longer. I tried my hand at the bow and arrow. While in line I watched everyone before me try and miss. One guy, looking confident in his mannerism, only got two out of twelve on target. When it got to be my turn they asked if I ever shot before and needed instruction. Yes, I use to bird hunt with a recurve bow as a kid (never killing a bird, but getting close) and I was confident that after fifteen years I could still shoot a bow. These bows, however, were for children and backyard games, not hunters and the arrows were all mismatched, different sizes and some warped. The bow itself had no target indicator on it either. Still, I managed to get all twelve arrows onto the target, though they were all to the left side and a bit high. I had a good group about the size of a person’s head. I was by far the best shooter in the groups that I saw. I had given thought after Eliza’s and mine camping trip and our leaving day coincided with the first day of elk bow season about the possibility of my hunting with a bow for elk. My dad would turn green with envy if I got an elk. Being able to put crappy arrows into a tight group with a crappy bow bolstered my belief that I could possibly shoot straight. The basics of marksmanship seem to hold true whether one is shooting a rifle or a bow… and I am a crack shot with a rifle.

I walked to a food stand and saw that they had deer sausage on a bun… or haggis. I could not pass this up. I had myself a bit of haggis. This might not have been traditional haggis, because I thought that haggis had sheep intestine in it. But whether this was traditional haggis or not… it was GREAT! It was a bit much for a warm day in the high 70’s… but I could see how this would be a great dish on a cold rainy day.

I then went to the only beer garden and had a beer, sitting at a table with a bit older couple in their 50’s and talking about the fair. After the beer I walked the booths over again and I found a box. When we tried to nurse the baby squirrel I found back to health, only for it to die, Eliza buried the squirrel in one of her prized boxes with carving all over it with a layer of cotten wrapping and an acorn. I was deeply touched that she give so selflessly for the little squirrel, understanding to that this loss to her was deeper than simply a dying squirrel. The box that I found, as far I could tell, matched the one she buried the squirrel in almost exactly. I thought it would be a nice thing to return the gift she gave back to her.

I didn’t buy anything for myself, though if I had the money I would have bought a couple swords or some pewter drinking cups. As I walked around the fair, I wondered if perhaps I couldn’t put up a booth. I had two in mind… one was the test of strength that I saw at the Texas Faire, and the other was a dunking booth that I saw there also. The dunking booth was wonderful… the wenches that took turns sitting on the dunking chair chastised the players so much that they had people in the audience cheering for the thrower and people lined up to take their shot at dunking the abusive wench. Plans for building a booth, hauling it around, and so forth, started to form in my head. It could be fun.

Driving home, I again enjoyed the fading light on the countryside around me. My favorite time of the year, Autumn. Seeing the sights that I did was as benefitial as drinking a healing elixir for me. Small as the faire was, I might make a go of it every year, plus the one in Hood River Valley, Oregon in July.

And now I will take a shower, shave, and dress to go to Portland. Eliza wants me to pick her up (instead of taking the bus back). I hope that my little trooper can handle going all that way on I-5. I wonder if perhaps I can’t leave earlier and take another alternate route up north, enjoy the drive more. Hmmmm.


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