Ye Merrie Greenwood Faire fills up Columbia Park with a taste of history

Shane Harris started working with metal around the age of 11.

“I come from a family of blacksmiths,” said the merchant at Ye Merrie Greenwood Renaissance Faire. “When I saw Star Wars, I made a sword because I couldn’t do a light saber.”

Harris, the owner of Redwolf Ltd., was one of dozens of merchants offering everything from jewelry to Elizabethan face panting at the event Saturday and Sunday in Columbia Park in Kennewick.

The event is open between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Sunday, and entrance costs $11 per adult, $8 per child or $45 for a family pass with two adults and two children.

This is just one of several shows that Harris takes his jewelry during a stretch from March to November. He travels throughout Washington and Oregon.

His foray into the fair circuit started when a girlfriend at the time dragged him to a show. She had been attending them for years.

“I didn’t want to go,” he said. “I was like, I don’t want to do this. I’m a (Society for Creative Anachronism) guy. But she pushed me into it, and I like it.”

He is just one of the people who have become part of the family at the Ye Merrie Greenwood Renaissance Faire, said Marjorie Kunigisky, one of the event’s organizers. She said the attendance at the 33rd annual fair has been good.

Event continues Sunday

Kunigisky estimated that the majority of the event’s expected 6,000 attendees had come to the park Saturday.

“A lot of good comments,” she said. “People are thrilled with the weather. They like the layout. They’re happy with the acts. ... There’s definitely enough people at the stages, and there’s definitely enough people watching the jousting.”

This is the fourth year since the fair moved from its previous location at Howard Amon Park, and just a year since Stephanie Judd’s death when a tree limb fell after winds of up to 25 mph blew through the area. The city cut back several trees and removed others in response to that tragedy.

The fair is more than a craft show in costume; it’s a chance to experience things they may never get the chance to see, said Kunigisky.

Throughout the event there were stages set up where singers, actors, jugglers, dancers and puppeteers performed. It also offers art forms such as madrigal singers or hammered dulcimer players.

What she doesn’t want to see is people be bored, which is why none of the acts run more than half an hour.

The actors, organizers and attendees of the renaissance fair are sometimes figuratively, sometimes literally family. Kunigisky’s daughter held up her granddaughter to wave at a plastic fence. Behind the scenes they were preparing food for the entertainers and vendors who had come to the event.

Just one big, fun family event.

Cameron Probert covers breaking news and education for the Tri-City Herald, where he tries to answer readers’ questions about why police officers and firefighters are in your neighborhood. He studied communications at Washington State University.