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Renaissance Fair Takes Visitors Back in Time
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Friday, September 15, 2023
 

STORY AND PHOTOS BY KAREN BOSSICK

There was no fire breathing dragon. But there was a court jester snorting fire.

The town of Carey, population 691, turned into a Renaissance village this past weekend complete with a medieval harpist, a unicorn pulling a cart and even a couple mermaids who had a pool in which to cool off.

A troubadour trio performed ballads of the Medieval Ages, while knights in armor clashed in sword play. And shouts of “hoo-rah!” rang out as shopkeepers with Wrapped in Giggles from Dietrich outfitted fairgoers in Renaissance period clothing.

“Renaissance fairs are popping up all over,” said Roger Peck, whose daughter Richaela started the fair three years ago for her senior project. “In the 1960s some woman started a Renaissance fair in her backyard in northern California and 5,000 people showed up. Since, fairs have spread across the country with fairs in Idaho Fall and Boise and two new fairs this year in Burley and Pocatello. And ours has tripled in size filling the lawn of the Blaine County Fairgrounds.”

The medieval artisans taking part in the Carey fair tried to educate fairgoers about the music and other aspects of that time.

Roger Peck, for instance, is fond of telling how catapults that flung boulders in battle constituted the early artillery. During his war against the Aztecs, Cortez is said to have built a trebuchet to save on gunpowder.

His soldiers placed a stone in the sling fired the catapult, the boulder went straight up, came straight down and destroyed the catapult.

“To this day they call the mistake ‘a Cortez,’ ” said Peck.

Samantha Rose Owings, the Mistress of Melody, told children how during the 16th and 17th century the English banned harp playing because of its association with the Irish.

“They burned Belfast harps—lined them up and burned them. So we lost of lot of the traditional music of that time. But some music was passed down orally in secret so we have some remaining.”

Mike Collins of Black Wolf Blades did a brisk business selling Viking swords boasting runes, Samurai swords and battle axes featuring intricate designs etched into carbon steel blades.

The Damascus, Lord of the Ring and Game of Thrones swords are particularly popular, thanks to films and TV shows by the same name and the TV show “Forged in Fire,” said Collins, who time traveled to the Renaissance fair by way of Pocatello.

Ashley Roberts, who hailed from the medieval village of Nampa, showed off a line of Viking shot glasses and drinking horns made of water buffalo horns onto which she had etched designs. One translucent horn featured dolphins that appeared to swim when filled with liquid.

Her husband--a blacksmith named Nick Roberts—plied his trade using corn, rather than charcoal or coals.

“A friend was watching ‘Forged in Fire,’ in which you have three hours to make a blade that’s tested for its durability and sharpness. And he said, ‘We have to do that,’ ” he said.

“Blacksmiths of yore would’ve dug a hole in ground and forged from there. Many blacksmiths traveled from village to village so they couldn’t carry a lot except for a hammer, tongs, billows. I use corn because I find it more palatable than coal or charcoal--and at the end of the day you have something that smells like popped popcorn.”

Paige Swanger, a theater major at BYU-Idaho in Rexburg, entertained children and adults as an Enchanted Statue. Her wig and dress was weighed down by multiple layers of paint.  Drop a few coins in the wishing well and she would come to life, often startling those around her as she did.

“You have to find balance in your body so you can hold still so long,” she said. “But I love performing for children because it blows their minds when the statue moves.”

And the fire breather Finn McBride, aka Fingal Bonzi?

Bonzi showed how he swallows a bit of lamp oil, then lights it afire as he opens his mouth letting a stream of fire roar into the air. It’s not pain free. He got burnt at the Renaissance fair he performed at before Carey’s.

“I really do not want you to do try this at home kids,” he said.

 

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