Arts & Entertainment

Renaissance Faire to heat up Richland

Forsooth! 'Tis the queen who cometh to Howard Amon Park. It's all part of the annual Ye Merrie Greenwood Players Renaissance Faire on June 28-29.

There'll be jousting knights, noble ladies, swashbuckling pirates and dazzling troubadours meandering through the Richland park.

Even Queen Elizabeth I herself, portrayed by Jennifer Harris of Kennewick, will make an appearance at the two-day faire.

And, just so you know, being queen isn't always a piece of cake.

Harris has dressed the part of the virgin queen five times. It takes about a half-hour to don the heavy clothing of the Elizabethan era, she said.

"The average Elizabeth court gown, with all the underpinnings, weighs between 50 and 75 pounds," Harris said.

And that doesn't count all the queen's different head pieces. And it can get pretty dang hot under all that garb as Harris glides through the park during the summer event when temperatures often edge dangerously near triple digits.

But the agony is worth the ecstasy to be queen for a day.

Harris has been involved with the Greenwood Players for 19 years. She caught the acting bug at age 5 when her mother cast her in a church production.

"I've been acting ever since," Harris said. "Combine that with my interest in history, and my involvement in Greenwood is rather natural."

The faire was the brainstorm of Marjorie Kunigisky more than two decades ago. Though Kunigisky is as devoted to history as Harris, there's no soulful connection to the Elizabethan era, she said.

"The fact is, my family are all Italian, and as such, we were busy creating the Renaissance long before Elizabeth was born," Kunigisky said. "The Elizabethan era was when the English were finally catching up with the Italians."

And if that isn't plain enough education for you, then it might behoove you to drop by the grounds of Howard Amon Park on Saturday and Sunday.

There will be Celtic music, Middle Eastern dancing, cannon fire, gypsy dancing, swashbuckling, jousting, juggling, puppet shows, tarot card readings, Shakespearean plays and lots of troubadour music.

And what medieval festival would be complete without a plethora of vendors selling everything from candles to food to jewelry.

Festival opens at 9:45 a.m. each day with a parade through the park. At 10 a.m. a cannon shot signals the opening of the faire. Gates close at 5 p.m.

A one-day pass is $8 for adults and teens and $6 for seniors citizens. Kids 5 and younger are free. Two-day passes are $12 for adults and teens and $9 for seniors. Tickets are available at the gate. Maps and schedule of events also can be picked up at the entrance.

*Dori O'Neal: 582-1514;