Medieval Faire

Wotan the Faery Smasher was a big "hit."

Medieval Faire brings joy, captures whimsy
CASHMERE - History, fantasy and a mix thereof collided on the grounds of the Chelan County Fairgrounds April 29 and 30 as the 10th rendition of the Two Rivers Medieval Faire held court. Although many thousands of dollars changed hands during the two-day event, it was organized and produced by a group of dedicated non-profit oriented volunteers.
In previous years the event was known as the Wenatchee Valley Renaissance Faire and was held on the campus of Wenatchee Valley College, but because the club at the college that sponsored the event is no longer involved the Faire had to find another venue.
That's where the Fairgrounds came in. "We are in love with the fairgrounds!  The scenery from the arena is magnificent and the staff couldn’t have been more helpful. In previous years at the college, a club there sponsored the Faire. The college was responsible for much of the expense, and accounting. So, of course, they also received most of the revenue. This year we were on our own and dealt with the event insurance, venue costs, rentals, printing, advertising and so on," said Debra Johanson, merchant coordinator for the event.
The business of running a major festival is fraught with everything from scheduling static acts on specific stages to organized mayhem in the form of cosplay artists. Cosplay is short for "costume play" and occurs when normally average and regular citizens decide to let  their inhibitions loose and don an outfit, playing along with whatever theme the event calls for.
"Herman the Ogre and Wotan are paid performers. They are roaming entertainers. We met Herman at the Spokane Renaissance Faire a few years ago, and we met Wotan last year at the Midsummer Renaissance Faire in Bonney Lake," Johanson said.
The Black Knight Society (BKS) is a nonprofit organization devoted to re-creation and re-enactment of ancient, dark ages, medieval, and medieval fantasy combat. Almost all the Faire board members are also board members of the BKS and so are able to organize the massive event in harmony with its own stated goals.
"Our board members network all year while attending Renaissance faires in Oregon and Washington. Hard planning comes in after faire season which is mid October. Marketing and physical work on sets and props begins in January, and volunteer meetings and activities are set up all the way to Faire. This year, however, because we didn’t have our new venue until late January, a lot of the work had to be squeezed into the last three months before Faire," said Johanson.
In order for any non-profit to not lose money, revenue has to be generated from products, services, donations and or grants and loans. In the case of the Faire, "entertainment is the main expense. It takes up at least 60 percent of the entire budget," according to Johanson, but revenues came in several forms.
Booth space started at $60 for a 12-foot by 12-foot space and topped out at $110 for 24x24 as compared to other faires where 10x10 spaces are the norm, according to Johanson. The Two Rivers (named after the Wenatchee and Columbia) event also had a roaming vendor rate of $50. All prices were for both days.
Some groups such as the Romans (warrior re-enactors from the days of Caesar and the empire), Wilhelm (swordplay) and the others, were paid to help cover their travel costs and camping fees.
Like with many non-profit events, the glue that held the entire festival in place were the dedicated volunteers.
"We had a great group of about 12 year-round volunteers, and many others, from in and out of the area, stepped up during the faire         itself. Building a large group of reliable volunteers is always challenging.  Management and volunteers did some double duty this year.
We have five in faire leadership and no one gets paid," Johanson said.
"We receive the gate receipts, merchant booth fees, and sponsorships.
The  first goal is to break even, hopefully! We haven’t crunched all the final numbers, and a new venue brought some unexpected expenses.
None of us make money on our Faire. While a couple of us vend at other faires, we don’t at our own. We want our paying merchants to have the sales. While we strive to add educational content to our faire, there is a hearty helping of fun and fantasy!" concluded Johanson.
To volunteer your time for next year's Faire or sign-up your own vending operation, contact Johanson by calling 509-669-1443.

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