Event-goers taken back to Renaissance

From left, Rachael Evans, Jessica Rempel and Alex Mickschl perform in the 2011 Spokane Renaissance Faire.
From left, Rachael Evans, Jessica Rempel and Alex Mickschl perform in the 2011 Spokane Renaissance Faire.

Fair touts jousting, beer garden, family fun, minicatapult

The Spokane Entertainers Guild brings knights, minstrels, dancers and storytellers to Green Bluff for the second annual Spokane Renaissance Faire.

This year’s theme is “Chivalry Comes Alive,” and proceeds benefit Second Harvest Food Bank.

“It will be very festive,” said Tara Mickschl, Spokane Entertainers Guild chairperson and Renaissance Faire cast director. “You’re going to experience something you haven’t before.”

Patrons can watch benevolent nobility and an evil Darkovian Court vie for the trophy of the Golden Apple. Opposing sides compete in the Tournament of Arms using swords, rapiers and staves.

The Imperial Joust features knights on horseback fighting each other using 8-foot lances during the largest jousting tournament in Eastern Washington.

“We’re a G-rated program,” Mickschl said. Her husband, Alex, and two children, 11-year-old Alexandria and 10-year-old Ryker are part of the show. “It’s friendly, educational and family focused.”

The fair’s crafts and games include a minicatapult using a stuffed cat aimed at a castle, food vendors, beer and root beer garden, a petting zoo, and Renaissance-style dance lessons. There also will be live Battle Chess, puppet shows, and Fables by Invention.

“It’s an improv fairy-telling show,” Mickschl said about Fables by Invention. “We take suggestions from the audience, and we act out in not-so-traditional ways.”

More than 60 volunteers in full costume and speaking the traditional Elizabethan speech will be on site.

“I love my volunteers to death,” Mickschl said. “They are the backbone.”

The fair has four stages with acts changing every half hour. Scheduled to perform are Seattle-based Celtic musicians BOWI Band, Spokane illusionist Kenneth K, fire spinner Jeremiah Gard, and Herman the 9-foot ogre.

The 30-member Spokane Entertainers Guild began in 2010 when Mickschl, along with fair director Monique Tarkington and fair entertainment director Rachael Evans, wanted to do something different while helping the community.

“We took our love of history and tried to figure out a way to have fun with that and do some good for the community,” Mickschl said.

The three women met as performers at the Northwest Renaissance Festival in Tum Tum, Wash. Wanting to organize their own event, they chose to hold it over one weekend in the fall rather than the typical longer-running Renaissance fair.

A lack of funds prevented them from holding the event the first year.

“We just didn’t have the money for it,” Mickschl said. “As much as we’re on a shoestring budget, we didn’t even have a shoestring.”

In 2011, using a small budget they organized the first Renaissance Faire in Green Bluff with more than 350 people attending the event. This year, the group received nonprofit status which gave them the ability to secure funding and sponsorships. With the funding, the guild purchased advertising and added more performers and acts. They hope to triple the attendance.

The guild meets year-round, preparing for the fair as well as conducting educational workshops in area schools. Auditions take place in the spring followed by training. The guild’s workshops each month prepare the cast for the event with focus on costuming, equestrian skills, basic history of time period, and how to speak the period language.

Mickschl said the guild hopes to expand to two large events a year, the Renaissance Faire in the fall and a masquerade ball in the spring. Each event will benefit a local nonprofit organization. They also hope to expand its educational events in the schools.

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