Over the weekend, Samaria’s Heritage Square hosted the valley’s first Renaissance Faire, in conjunction with a baby animal show. The busy event, which took place on one of the first weekends of excellent weather of the year, brought in people from around the region to an activity-filled event full of food, music, fun, and a taste of the historical.
Luke Waldron, who initially planned the event as a smaller-scale spring animal fair, was approached by local high school students who were interested in expanding the scope of the event to include renaissance elements. The students, who came up with an idea for the Faire during the course of Donna Whipple’s “Shakespeare and his Times” class, essentially developed and arranged the renaissance components of the faire as a way to incorporate the learning they have been doing in their coursework.
The students themselves contacted Waldron about his interest in hosting the event, and then worked with him to develop the contours of the event. The students helped to design the weekend, which included such things as an archery range, a battle arena, pony rides, musical performances, dramatic performances, and a large number of volunteers and vendors. The students also served as royalty for the event, with the two highest ranked students in the class Jaxon and Serena Whipple, serving as king and queen.
“It’s awesome how the students worked on this. They basically came up with the idea, and then saw it through the whole process to make it a success. It’s definitely empowering to see them use the tools they had to make this such a successful event, ”Waldron said. “We all met every week to keep clear on where we were going with this, and it turned out even better than I could have imagined.”
Over the course of several months, the students produced advertising materials, event plans, and vendor arrangements. Beyond being obviously great practical experience with event planning and business management, the experience allowed the students to fully engage with the historical and literary material they have been exploring this year. The proof, as the expression from the same era goes, is in the pudding. The students were visible and active throughout the weekend, mingling with the crowd, performing small dramatic scenes, and helping provide a fantastic, whimsical atmosphere.
Additional activities included kite making, candle dipping, bracelet making, storytelling, face painting, period-specific games (such as Liar’s Dice), and more. Elizabeth Kent hosted a “dragon stories” reading room in the cabin. Caricatures, sword demonstrations, and plenty of baby animals helped add even more excitement to the two day festival.
The Faire used a “Quest band” to allow guests to participate in a number of events, including the battle arena and archery contest. The archery contest was divided into three categories, for beginners, intermediate, and advanced, and stayed busy throughout the fair with many people lining up to show off their skills.
The acts scheduled for the event included a number of local musicians both young and older, as well as the Teton Skye group from Idaho Falls, Andrew Wonder, the Time Traveling Curator of Antiquities and Oddities, and the improv group Antics from Logan, Utah. A teaser for the upcoming “Midsummer Night’s Dream” performance was also given.
Vendors and booths at the fair included Geek Granny’s Gifts, The Wobbly Goblet Pottery, Brave Boar Leather, Celtic Gardens, Seadragon Cove, Enchanted Hollow Alpacas, Reclaimed Repurposed Bows and Arrows, Ganache, and many others.
“When we were closing everything down some of the kids looked sad, so I asked them what was wrong. They said they just didn’t want to leave, ”Waldron laughed. “But I understand — it was such a great event. It was a great thing for the community, to have so many people and families out doing something fun like this. And the biggest congratulations go to the students who put this all together, of course. ” Many of the vendors and volunteers from the event have already expressed interest in coming back next year. “We’ve got ideas already for what we want to do next time,” Waldron said.
The primary sponsors of the event were Ken Tooke and Associates with Northwest Mutual, Thomas Market, Northern Title, Hess Lumber, Hess Pumice, Hess NAPA, Oneida Family Dental, Oxford Peaks Arts Council, R&R Driving School, and Malad Valley Dental. Many other volunteers and contributors helped make the weekend a success.
Last Mile Wireless (Jason Kimberling) provided internet for the event and provides internet services permanently at the Heritage Square. Tammy Benson designed and sewed all the colorful banners for the event. Jaylynn Redd organized and set up the Little Dragon Gift Shop. Shayna Waldron did a lot of behind the scenes work, such getting all the children’s crafts ready and food booth together, making curtains for the stage, and making a cute she-shed outhouse (restroom), as well as and spending both days over the grill cooking hotdogs.
Aspen Air (Matt Edlefson) provided the sound system. Dave Lindsay of Upper Country Electric took care of all the electrical needs and helped get the grounds ready. The Missionaries (Elders) from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provided a lot of service over the past few months helping to get the Heritage Square ready. Clint Laing oversaw the Battle Arena, and his father-in-law oversaw the archery competition. Pennie Wolf provided an oil painting demonstration during both days. Luke Waldron’s son Andrew provided a large amount of behind the scenes support and prep work.
“That’s what really makes an event like this work,” Waldron added. “So many people came together for this to offer up their talents, and being willing to give their time and effort to a fun and important thing like this. I think everyone was so glad to be outside and together. The COVID limits were hard — we’re a social people, and we need these kinds of interactions. I’m so glad we were able to do this, and I’m just so impressed with how well the students did with putting it on. ”
Waldron and those involved plan to make the event an annual one, if possible. Heritage Square will also soon be hosting Samaria Days on July 22-23, which will be returning this year.