It appears that Canby and the surrounding area were ripe and fertile ground for a backward glance to a time long past. Such was the success of last year's inaugural Oregon Renaissance Faire at the Clackamas County Event Center in Canby that the organizers are doubling down — literally.
This year's faire, or should we say faires, will span two weekends. "We had an amazing year last year," said Tracy Nietupski, operations manager for the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire, which is sponsoring the Canby event.
"We had so many people — we didn't expect that kind of turnout in a new area. Such a great reception."
So impressive was the attendance that organizers decided to expand it to a second weekend to make sure everyone could be accommodated. Hence, this year's Renaissance Faire will run June 10-11 and 17-18, and come with specific themes for the weekends.
June 17-18, the theme will be "all things Celtic, so bring out your kilt and show off your knees a little bit," she said. "We just felt like we wanted to give everyone more opportunity to come and enjoy," Nietupski said.
Not a bad problem to have after just one year, particularly on a speculative venture initially. It was just over a year ago that, after a long search of possible facilities, organizers decided to kick of their first season in Canby. The initial event featured more than 500 costumed performers and contributors dressed in period costume, as well as large numbers of attendees doing the same.
Nietupski said the goal is to put on a family-friendly event and that wearing shorts and T-shirts are quite alright. 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.
"There's definitely an emphasis on the family experience, but also some adult stuff," said Nietupski. As impressive as the first-year attendance was, Nietupski pointed to the several other factors that made the opening weekend so successful.
Chief among them was the help that the Clackamas County Event Center provided.
"They were, and continue to be, so easy and helpful to work with," she said. "They are a huge reason things have gone so well. Another part of the success is the people who work at the show. Most of the folks helping out are volunteers and they really make things go. We couldn't do it without them."
This year's event will feature more of everything — vendors, entertainment, pubs and plenty of fun in-between. One of this year's new acts will be MooNiE the Magnificent. An immersive silent comedy experience that brings the audience in using whistles.
Adding to the comedy is MooNiE's mesmerizing balancing and juggling skills, creating an enjoyable family-friendly show that has something for everyone. Stick around for his final show of the day when MooNiE teams up with the edgy sarcastic Broon for the largely improvised MooNiE and BrooN Show, a perfect double act, clashing and complimenting to create the ideal recipe for painfully good comedy where no one will know what they're going to do next, including them. The faire is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day.
More information and tickets are available on the website at oregonfaire.com.