Ashley Simpson’s horse galloped as she shot arrows at ground targets Saturday inside an arena at the Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire in Kings Valley.
The 29-year-old trains at the Cascade International Mounted Archery Center in Bend. She and two fellow students demonstrated their skills to applause from faire-goers. Simpson said she enjoys the sport because it’s peaceful.
“It’s very zen,” she said. “When you get into that flow state, when you’re in rhythm with the horse, eyeing the target and you’ve got your arrow nocked, it’s a quiet moment in the chaos of everything else.”
In October, Simpson will attend the 13th World Horseback Archery Championship in Korea, along with some fellow students and Holm Neumann, owner of the mounted archery center in Bend.
“The thing I appreciate most about the sport is the international goodwill and fellowship that is shown,” Neumann said.
According to Neumann, mounted archery dates back to the nomadic way of life in Central Asia. It has been revived in recent years for friendly competition.
It was the first year the mounted archers have performed at the Renaissance Faire and though Neumann is retiring, the group hopes to return next year.
Beyond the arena, a Renaissance village provided a variety of entertainment. Many participants and visitors were dressed in period clothing, with some women wearing bodices and full skirts and men wearing tartan Scottish kilts. Some kids wore elf ears, fairy wings or were dressed like pirates.
Craft vendors sold jewelry, metal and wooden swords, period costumery, pottery, armor, homemade soaps and more.
Near the merchants, Russel Mottle, of Philomath, had his head and wrists in the stocks. He wore a white shower cap to keep his hair dry as children threw “potatoes,” or wet sponges, at his head.
“What we have here is a chef who did things he shouldn’t have,” shouted Nathan Stout, of Corvallis, who was requesting children donate “bail monies” to throw the sponges.
At the Hangman’s Acre, a jailor collected money from faire visitors who wished to have a loved one put in jail. Katherine Escajeda, of McMinnville, laughed from behind bars as she performed the moves to “I’m a Little Teapot” in order to be released.
The jailor, played by Joshua Cupps, of Seattle, said a portion of the proceeds will go to Fisher House, which provides housing to the families of military members receiving medical treatment.
Standing in front of the two jail cells, Cupps yelled, “Rat! There’s a rat!” as a man wearing a stuffed rat on his head sprinted by. Several children followed in tow and tagged the “rat,” who tied a piece of colorful string to the kids’ wrists, part of the popular Rat Catchers game.
Other children embarked on the Squire Quest, in which they had to recite a Code of Chivalry to various villagers in order to be knighted. Six-year-old Samuel Serrano-Dodd, of Beaverton, who was dressed as Robin Hood, recited a portion of the code to an instructor at the Cock ‘N Bow Archery Range.
In the Friar Tuck’s Forest, kids rode seven-foot tall wooden rocking horses, hand carved by Lester Hartness, of Bakersfield, California. Nearby, the Pearwood Pipers, an Elizabethan music group based in Eugene, performed under a tent. A choir sang inside the Staggering Oak Tavern while the belly dance troupe Raks Sarif & Raks Zealots performed on a stage in the forest.
Back at the arena, hundreds of people sat on a hay-covered hill and whooped and hollered for armor-clad knights. Some faire-goers ate turkey legs as the horse-mounted knights prepared to joust.
The competitors first performed challenges of skills, such as spearing an apple positioned inside a target on a bale of hay.
“Now it’s time for what you all came here for,” the moderator shouted. “Blood!”
The knights mounted on each end of the arena before dashing toward one another, their long, wooden weapons aimed at their opponent. The tip of one knight’s weapon shattered as he struck his challenger’s shield.
There was no blood, but the crowd went wild.
Lillian Schrock covers public safety for the Gazette-Times. She may be reached at 541-758-9548 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @LillieSchrock.