Renaissance enthusiasts share their culture at Greenbank Farm

During the course of Saturday’s Renaissance at the Farm festivities, attendees had the opportunity to learn from and observe a number of entertaining and educational presenters.

Amidst the hubbub, Your Ladyship Kathryn Garnett appeared an emblem of serenity as she calmly weaved fibers onto her loom.

Dressed in historically accurate attire harkening back to the style of the European Renaissance, Garnett, also known as Kay Rairigh, talked with curious passerby, describing in detail the history of her craft.

Rairigh, like several attendees of the Renaissance at the Farm, Greenbank Farm’s first renaissance-themed festival, has frequented similar events for decades.

Thirty-five years ago, she attended her first Renaissance festival while on a date.

“I was hooked,” she recalled.

Today, she is a member of the international Society for Creative Anachronism, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to the preservation, research and recreation of the crafts, arts and experiences of the European Renaissance and Middle Ages.

Within the group, Rairigh has adopted a character, Your Ladyship Kathryn Garnett, in the interest of creating and embodying a piece of history.

She, and a handful of fellow society members present at Saturday’s event, are citizens of the kingdom of An Tir, which encompasses the geographical region of Oregon, Washington, Northern Idaho, Alberta and British Colombia.

Donning period-representative attire and adopting characters, Rairigh said, helps to make history more palpable to those interested.

During the course of Saturday’s festivities, attendees had the opportunity to learn from and observe a number of entertaining and educational presenters whose goal was similar to Rairigh’s.

Entering the grounds, visitors were greeted by a young Galileo, who stamped hands at the gate. Jesters directed traffic; a pirate emceed and judged a costume contest which included an array of characters from fairies and knights to ladies of the court and a dragon.

There were also indications of the event’s theme: “renaissance then and now,” which set it apart from the more traditional Renaissance festivals.

Presenters discussed hot topics of the modern era such as home brewing, slow food, organic farming and nose work for dogs.

Artists and entertainers served up laughs and awe with acts such as magic, comedy, music and equestrian performances, as well as a presentation by students of Tiger Martial Arts.

Kettle corn was served up from a cart resembling an old-time wagon, while modern treats like ice cream and warm bites from Orlando’s Fish and Grill were also eagerly gobbled up.

Approximately 2,500 people attended the event, according to Judy Feldman, executive director of the nonprofit Greenbank Farm Management Group.

Though many were Whidbey residents, some, like Maria Christianson and her daughters, ages four and six, were visiting from Missouri.

Christianson and her girls were visiting family, and had decided to stop by due to their affinity with Renaissance-themed activities.

“I like the old-time stuff and seeing handmade items,” Christianson said, as she and her daughters perused a booth selling handmade fairy masks and other fay-themed goods.

The tent was operated by Paula Fries and her daughters, Lydia Fries and Savannah Carmack, Whidbey residents.

The family members dressed the part, with Savannah dressed as a fairy, Paula as a Renaissance-era woman and Lydia as a “peacock” in a white gown and crown of flowers.

Though the event was free, donations were accepted to benefit the farm. Feldman said that approximately $2,300 was raised in addition to the community sponsorship money gathered before the event.

Feldman also added that the cafe experienced a 30 percent sales increase over the prior weekend, which had also been quite busy.

Feldman said she considered it to be a “fabulous event.”

“It was good for the farm, the community and all of those small businesses,” she said, adding that a special thanks was due to organizers Jerry and Connie Lloyd.

“It would not have happened without their blood, sweat and tears.”