Faire Play: Valhalla Renaissance Fair at Lake Tahoe this weekend and next
Tahoe’s annual renaissance faire fits Valhalla to a “thee.”
The next two weekends, May 31 and June 1, and June 7-8, will take Tahoe back in time to 16th century Europe. The Valhalla Renaissance Faire returns, offering 7 acres of entertainment with more than 1,000 actors and four stages from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. both Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sundays. In addition, there will be jousting and swordfighting, educational demonstrations and kids games, jugglers and minstrels, and food and beverages.
Highlighting this year’s festival is the return of the Knights of Avalon and their full-contact jousting show, which uses real lances and real armor to create an accurate representation of a renaissance-era joust.
Jousting has inspired one of the Renaissance Faire’s stock characters ” Improv host Howie Nave, who has appeared in the stockades for past events ” to consider taking up the sport.
“One year they put me in jail, the next year they put me in the stockade, so I’m going to go jousting this year,” Nave said. Surely he’s jesting ” not jousting.
“I’m not sure if I’m going to go as a knave ” that might be kind of natural,” said Nave, who also was mulling the possibility of donning a “Seinfeld”-style puffy shirt and attending in the guise of “a Jewish pirate.”
In that case, he’d have plenty of company: the Theme Actors Group will return to the faire for the 14th time, playing English privateers who offer participants a scavenger hunt.
There is a treasure hunt for kids at 1 p.m. each day of the faire and an adult event at 3. The privateers help organize participants into teams to find lists of items worth points ” the more obscure, the more creativity the item requires, the more points it’s worth. The top three teams earn prizes that faire merchants donated.
“As far as the hunt is concerned, you’re not going to know necessarily what some of the items are,” said Joe Christensen, aka Christian St. Joseph, aka Crowjoe the Cunning, the group’s commodore, who lived in Tahoe for 13 years before moving to Sacramento recently.
“It’s not your typical scavenger hunt. It’s a lot more fun than that.”
The scurvy crew is there to help with some of the more obscure items ” just don’t expect a straight answer from a privateer without a bribe.
“We guarantee that if you dare to show you’re faces, you’re going to have a good time. You may leave a little lighter in the step but certainly lighter in the heart as well,” Christensen said.
“And the booty is well worth the effort.”
Beyond a treasure trove of possibilities for the scavenger hunt, the privateers have a number of other activities for fairegoers to play around with.
“We’re very good at improvisation and providing the experience to the patron,” Christensen said. “We don’t let you just stand there and watch. We drag you in and let you be a part of it along with us.”
“Imagination is a big thing with us,” he said. “We definitely want you using your imagination, stretching the boundaries, having a good time.”
In the same vein, the English-style Court of St. Aidans will mediate disputes, dispensing justice and humor measure for measure.
Captain’s Dotter, which combines singers from different backgrounds into a folk music and storytelling collective, will provide music.
Siamsa le Cheile (which translates from Gaelic as “a warm fuzzy feeling together” but which the troupe jokes is an acronym for Scots-Irish Anarcho-Masochistic Stage Alliance) combines the music and dance of Scotland and Ireland in what it calls a “whirlwind” show. The group features members of all ages, many of whom are serious students weaving academia with love of Gaelic culture.
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