Whitman College's Renaissance Faire turns 40 on Saturday

The annual period gathering features vendors, performances and plenty of costumes.

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WALLA WALLA -- The Whitman College Renaissance Faire celebrates its 40th year Saturday on campus.

Entertainers and vendors wearing period-appropriate clothing will engage in a wide variety of Renaissance-inspired activities, ranging from dancing to jousting on unicycles. Large numbers of Whitman students, alumni and community members and visitors are expected to attend.

The event brings more than 30 vendors, five professional groups and various clubs and entertainment groups to the city. The Mossyback Morris Men, a professional dance troupe that is popular at Renaissance Faires, is traveling from Seattle to attend.

"As always we have a good mix of Whitman students and professional entertainers coming to perform: multiple dance groups, music, combat demonstrations, a magician and more," said Sam Schonfeld, a Whitman student who chairs the Faire Committee.

While there are fewer stages at this year's Faire, this ensures there will be performances throughout the day.

"This year's faire is a little more compact than it has been in the previous few years because we have consolidated from three stages to two. However, this means that the main stage is completely booked," Schonfeld said.

Events include Renaissance dance lessons, Irish dance performances, royal court, an adaption of "Beowolf," a demonstration from the Whitman fencing club and unicycle jousting.

According to Schonfeld, the faire typically attracts around 2,000 Whitman and Walla Walla visitors.

Schonfeld sees the faire as a good way for Whitman students to interact with the community, and vice versa.

"I think the faire is just good all around fun. The performances are entertaining, the shopping as good and it's just an all around fun way to spend a spring day. Also, it's a good way to get members of the community to come visit the Whitman campus and get students out to interact with the greater Walla Walla community," Schonfeld said.

The faire runs from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and admission is free.

Joe Volpert can be reached at joevolpert@wwub.com.

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