Photo by Ollie Hancock | Theodore Duquette with his steed Phantom post joust.

Ren Faire: Be There or Be Squire

Meats, meads, men hitting each other with long sticks
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by Ione Dellos

The Medieval Festival of Courage graced the Blue Lake Horse Arena this weekend with shining knights, horseback archery, axe throwing, and of course, a reason to don your frilliest skirt. A good ren faire is a wonderful occasion to dress up, dance around to medieval music, and beef up your collection of linen shirts. The event was put on by the Coastal Grove Charter School Parent Organization.

The knights looked very impressive in their shimmering suits of armor, adorned with chainmail and plumes sprouting from their helmets. I was originally under the impression that they would be attempting to knock each other off of their horses, but “full-contact jousting” is apparently the knights attempting to break each other’s lances. Watching the jousting was still very entertaining, and I briefly felt like I was in the 1500’s and could catch the bubonic plague at any moment. 

Now I understand why peasants would watch medieval sporting events with such fervor! Observing two men ride towards each other with long, dangerous sticks on horseback is an invigorating affair to witness. The horses had beautiful, luscious coats that were adorned with colorful capes sporting the knights’ coats of arms, and had braided manes in fantastical patterns. 

Theodore Duquette, one of the knights that participated in Sunday’s events, has been jousting for over twenty-two years. He goes by the stage name Sir Theodore, and his eternal opponent in all matches was the nefarious Sir Tyler. Sir Theodore first dislocated his shoulder falling off a horse, and says he’s since repeated the injury over 26 times during the course of one year. His right arm is shorter than his left arm due to the process it took to rebuild his shoulder, where the surgeons over-tightened his muscles to keep his arm together so he could continue jousting. 

To get the perspective of what it’s like to work the Faire and not be able to enjoy it as an attendee, I asked some stall merchants how their weekend had been. 

Sarah Borok, who worked at an apple cider stand, still had cider from the presses dripping off of her hands when we talked. This is her eighth year working for events like the Medieval Festival of Courage. 

“We are [overwhelmed],” Borok said. “Yesterday was pretty bad, we came home and we were all hoarse. It was crazy!” 

Medieval vittles available at the Faire included caramel apples, elotes, and various whimsical meats roasted on a large dragon-shaped grill. Including snacks such as “Dragon on a Stick,” and “Beast on a Stick,” these were sold to benefit the Coastal Grove Charter School Parent Organization.

The Society for Creative Anachronism had also set up a tent at the Faire, showcasing recreation and craftsmanship of pre-seventeenth century skills and culture. 

According to their website, SCA is “an inclusive community pursuing research and re-creation of pre-seventeenth century skills, arts, combat and culture.” 

Evin Skidmore, a local SCA member, showed me around their tent, which was adorned with various works of craftsmanship and art. He showed a gauntlet that was gifted to him back when he first became involved with SCA, and told me that the most important part about the group is to keep showing up even when you feel intimidated.

“It can be a little overwhelming and intimidating when you first get started, but you just have to show up!” Skidmore said.

Despite how dusty it was, I would say that I had a pretty good time at the Ren Faire. My main qualm is that it did not seem very accessible for disabled people, and the lines for water were very long to stand in. The ground around the Blue Lake Horse Arena was also very uneven, which would make it very difficult to navigate in a wheelchair.

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