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Faire began June 8-9 and will open again 15-16; each weekend comes with a theme

A tankard of ale, the clash of steel, sounds of singing and music, and plenty of whimsy is again du jour in the tree-lined back area of the Clackamas County Event Center this month.

PMG FILE PHOTO: JOHN BAKER - The jousting show is one of the many highlights of the Oregon Renaissance Faire, featuring gallant displays of bravery and skill with swords and lances.The Oregon Renaissance Faire returned for its fourth act in Canby, and judging by the crowds that have turned out the first three years — rain or shine, things should be plenty entertaining once again in the Vale of Dunrose as the festival spans two weekends.

Shana Casey, the festival's marketing director, said "It's our fourth year, and it's very exciting. Canby has been so welcoming to us."

This year's faire began June 8-9 and will open again 15-16; each weekend comes with a theme.

"A Scottish Celebration: A Gathering of Clans," was the focus of the June 8-9 weekend, offering fairgoers a chance to break out their kilts, show off those knees and join a true celebration of the mighty Scots and Her Majesty, Mary, Queen of Scots.

A week later, June 15-16, the theme will be "Swashbuckler's Weekend: A Pirate's Invasion!" This event will kick off the organization's new Pirate Festival in July (in Lacey, Washington) with an early look that's designed to get the inner pirate in all of us sailing. Music, food, dancing and more will fuel this event.

"A typical pirate fair is kind of a street fair or Saturday market that's usually held near the water," Casey said. "But ours won't be like that. Ours will be a renaissance fair that is completely pirate themed. We'll build a pirate town and there will be shows and shenanigans going on all over the place. It will be a lot of fun."

While there's plenty for adults to do at the ORF, the event has plenty of kid fun, too. Robin Hood and Maid Marian will be on hand, as well as giant rocking horses, pony rides and puppets.

Also featured is the "Dragon Adventure." According to the event's official description, "Five little Dragons have come to visit the Vale of Dunrose! Orfie, Blaze, Soot, Wheezy and Snort were on their way to visit Her Majesty, Mary Queen of Scots, but found themselves lost along the way. Explore and discover the fun and excitement of the Oregon Renaissance Faire as you help us find all five of the lost little Dragons." Completely free to play, children search for the five small plastic dragons amongst the faire.

Growth of festival

The event features more than 500 costumed performers and contributors dressed in period costume, as well as large numbers of attendees doing the same. The goal is to put on a family-friendly event and that wearing shorts and T-shirts are quite all right. It's about fun and learning more about a remarkable time in Scottish history through sight, sound and getting involved a bit.

So, when Mary Queen of Scots and her retinue arrive in the Vale in the year 1536, there will be plenty to experience — music, magicians, stage shows, jousting, merchants, food and drink for all ages, including adults. The Cat and Fiddle Pub will have its bar wenches serving cider, ale and mead.

Back this year will be MooNiE the Magnif'Cent. An immersive silent comedy experience that brings the audience in using whistles and more. Adding to the comedy is MooNiE's mesmerizing balancing and juggling skills, creating an enjoyable family-friendly show that has something for everyone. During the second weekend, MooNiE teams up with the edgy and sarcastic Broon for the largely improvised MooNiE and BrooN Show. 

New this year will be Lynx-Daredevil of Oddiities, who will swallow swords and work some magic. Also on tap for the first time is Cirque du Sewer, which features acrobatics with trained cats and rats, as well as several other new acts to enjoy.

This year's event will feature more of everything — more than 40 unique vendors, eight food vendors, two pubs, entertainment and plenty of fun.

In three years, the festival has grown substantially, with more than 11,000 visitors over two weekends last year. A year ago, the festival needed to use overflow parking and saw parking on the nearby residential streets. What that means, said Casey, is the Oregon Renaissance Faire may soon need to expand.

"Within two years we are hoping to grow to a bigger spot, hopefully in the vicinity or even in this same spot," Casey said. "We are going to outgrow our current spot, but we love this community and it's not easy to find a new place to go. The Oregon folks were hungry for a renaissance festival and we are so excited to be growing in Oregon like we are."

The faire is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. More information and tickets are available at oregonfaire.com.

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