The renaissance of the Renaissance Faire

Tasha Hall, Campus Life Reporter

The Renaissance Faire returned to Whitman College on Sautrday, April 22, 2023. Popular across the nation, Renaissance Faires are a unique source of entertainment with a very specific niche, especially appealing to history and fantasy fans. 

This year marks the first full Faire at Whitman College since the pandemic started, making the experience a first for first-years and seniors alike. The students working on the Renaissance Faire wanted this year’s occasion to be grand. 

Why all of this hard work to put on such a big event? Because the Faire at Whitman is a legacy. The annual Whitman Renaissance Faire was started in 1970 by former astronomy professor, Kate Bracher. 

Julie and Nick Caton are patrons of the Faire. Former students at Whitman and big Renaissance Faire fans, they’ve guided and helped the tradition continue at the college since 1999. Julie Caton explains that Kate Bracher established the Renaissance Faire after playing in a Renaissance concert. 

“They had put out their first Renaissance Faire, [and] the whole campus got involved. They used to pull barnwood off of barns, and students would create their own booths the morning of,” Julie Caton said. “It was ridiculous … It’s fascinating just watching how the spirit of it has changed but also stayed exactly the same.” 

The Catons are fans of the Faire for its magic quality and how every year students make it their own with new and refreshing ideas and takes on tradition, like adding events like human chess and unicycle jousting. Nick Caton enjoys dressing up and acting in the Faire, and Julie Caton appreciates the event’s spontaneity. 

“It pops out of nowhere, and then it disappears like magic. That to me makes it feel more special,” Julie Caton said. “It’s all of the sudden here, and then all of the sudden gone.” 

Photos by Chloe Collins.

No grand Faire is without the great work of those who set it up. Junior Lauren O’Rourke worked as the Public Relations Officer of the Planning Committee who promoted the event to students and vendors. She also helped create the Faire on the day of the event by aiding in assembling the stages, getting vendors to their designated locations and ensuring everyone had costumes. 

“We’re all a little nervous, but we’ve been working really hard with it. We’re pretty excited,” said O’Rourke before the Faire. “We think it’s gonna be great.” 

The Renaissance Faire includes events like the boffing tournament, the joust, the alchemy demonstrations and live skits performed by Adria the Juggler and Van Zee the Traveling Mage that bring magic to the audience. 

The Renaissance Faire Planning Committee’s hard work paid off. Junior Cas Alexander was a student who attended the faire. Though this wasn’t their first time visiting a “gathering of nerds” as they put it, this was their first time at a Renaissance Faire. They reported that they were not disappointed. 

“I think it’s really cool [the Faire] came back. It’s fun to be doing things again, and I like that it’s outdoors and accessible,” Alexander said. 

Having the Faire return to Whitman after the pandemic made this year’s event all the more special to the Caton’s and the students who worked at the Faire. 

“It does my heart good to come back,” Nick Caton said. “We didn’t know what to expect.” 

The Renaissance Faire will return next year, along with the club’s other events. For more information about the Renaissance Faire Planning Committee, find them on Presence under “Renaissance Faire Planning Committee” or on Instagram @wcrenfaire.