Did you know that you can step back in time about 500 years at the Washington County Fair Complex in Hillsboro, Oregon? To experience a bit of what 16th century life would have been like in England, head to the 1st Annual Oregon Renaissance Festival. This festival runs every weekend in September and is fun for the entire family. Watch jousting knights in shining armor, be amazed by sword swallowers, entertained by singing maidens and magicians, try your skill at knife throwing, browse wares for sale, and of course eat, drink, and be merry!
In general, the Renaissance (French for "rebirth") was an age throughout much of Europe when artistic, social, scientific, and political thought turned in new directions. In England, it was the Golden Age and reign of Queen Elizabeth I. The Dark Ages were over, Shakespeare and Galileo were young, and the country was growing intellectually and economically.
If you've never been to a Renaissance Faire, you'll be amazed at the number of things to see and do. The festival replicates a medieval village. Colorful ribbons and flags wave in the wind, the sound of performers and laughter fill the air, along with the smell of food. Everyone working there dresses in renaissance garb typical of the period. There are no dress codes for attendees, but costumes are encouraged for everyone, and you can even rent them on site. People work at Faire to have fun, to entertain, and to socialize, so don't be afraid to talk to the merchants and artisans. They are never out of character, so expect good-natured bantering, hawking, and to be addressed at every turn as M’Lord and M’Lady.
The Oregon Renaissance Festival is a combination of many things— partly a market and partly a mix of performances. In all, it is fun from another era. Get into the spirit of yesteryear and you'll swear you really stepped back to a century when knights and noble steeds clashed, and elegant ladies waited to be rescued. Good morrow!
IF YOU GO
Weekends in September 2013, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Washington County Fair Complex
873 NE 34th Ave. in Hillsboro
Adult Ticket (ages 13 and up): $20
Child Ticket (ages 5-12): $10
Children ages 4 and under: FREE
Parking is $5
After most performances, the entertainers pass a hat for gratuities.