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From England to Sherwood...via Maine

A pair of English archers fly to wrong Portland to try to compete in Sherwood archery festival
by: Anthony Roberts, Wayne Froggatt of Nottingham, England is knighted after a circuitous trip to Sherwood.

Some 800 years ago when the real Robin Hood - or at least the person upon whom he's based -- existed, men had to travel by horse through a rugged country torn apart by warring factions with ever-changing allegiances if they were to make it to King Richard's castle to be knighted.

But they never faced the challenge of booking a flight on the Internet and with the New World still a few hundred years from being discovered they didn't have to worry about so many cities with the same bloody names. And while the monarchy has been reduced to a figurehead, it can still be a challenge to make it to a knighting ceremony.

Wayne Froggatt of Nottingham, England, found this out the hard way just before the July Robin Hood Festival in Sherwood. As England's top shooter in the annual archery duel between Sherwood and Nottingham, an anonymous donor from Sherwood's Sylvan Archer's paid to have Wayne come over for the festival. He was allowed to bring one guest, so he chose his son Simon, who missed Nottingham's shoot because he was at an international competition. He shot in Sherwood instead. But he almost didn't make it.

On Thursday, July 15, Wayne and Simon touched down in Portland … Maine. Sandy Wallace, who organizes the archery competition and hosted Wayne and Simon, said she got the call while her and husband Bill were on the way to the airport in Portland, Ore., to pick them up.

'He told me he didn't realize there were two Portlands,' she laughed.

They sorted things out, stayed overnight at a hotel in Maine, and were up early the next morning for a flight back to Newark, N.J., and finally into Portland, Ore. Wayne took it all in stride.

'I hear Maine's nice, great lobster,' he said, 'but we didn't get to see much of it.'

Simon placed the blame solely at his father's feet. 'I didn't have anything to do with it,' he said, grinning, just after Wayne was knighted by 2006 Maid Marian Ellany Saxton. 'He booked the flight.'

As for the archery competition, Maid Marian Saxton's initial shot served as a precursor to the outcome. She took archery lessons before the festival and hi the bull's eye of a target when she fired the ceremonial first bow of the festival. Simon's international archery competition experience couldn't make up enough ground for the Nottingham team, which shot in June. Sherwood's Sylvan Archers again won the engraved silver bowl that is the traveling trophy. It is Sherwood's 33rd victory in the competition, which marked its 50th anniversary. Sylvan won in each category in the competition, juniors, compound and longbow.

Once they finally settled in, they were treated to what Robin Hood Festival President Phil McGuigan said was likely the largest festival yet, drawing roughly 16,000 to 18,000 people. McGuigan, in his eighth year as president, received the volunteer of the year award, and Wayne made it to the knighting ceremony on time. With the exception of the flight incident, everything went 'really smooth,' according to McGuigan. He believes that's a testament to the team of volunteers that included the Sherwood Rotary Club, Boy Scout Troop 224 and the Church of Latter Day Saints, all of which helped with the arduous task of cleaning up afterwards.

'We have a great board of directors that have been together close to eight years,' McGuigan said, 'plus, Sandy [Wallace] has been at it for 30 years, and Alice [Thornton] for about 30 years.'