The Renaissance has returned in all its sword-fighting, ballad-singing, archery and jousting glory.
Tonight, Saturday and Sunday (June 12-14, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.) the Albion Fairgrounds in Maple Ridge will be a time portal to the world of England in 1515, as the BC Renaissance Festival celebrates its ninth year at the grounds.
And Surrey residents are among organizers and players in the immersive, interactive experience.
That includes sisters Alessandria and Katrina Testani, who’ll be taking key roles as Catherine of Aragon (King Henry VIII’s first queen) and member of the court Lady Anne Hastings in an ongoing dramatic storyline of intrigue involving a pirate admiral and a disgruntled Scottish lord.
Meanwhile Bob French, also a Surrey resident, can be seen roaming the grounds as leader of a band of Gypsies.
Billed as “non-stop entertainment for the entire family” the volunteer-operated event is designed to give 21st century audiences a taste of the excitement of historical life.
There’s realism aplenty in the jousting battles staged by the Jousting Alliance of Washington State, partnered with Hazelnut Grove Clydesdales.
But there’s also plenty of era-appropriate whimsy, magic, fantasy and colourful entertainment, ranging from the kid-friendly flitting visits of Summer the Fairy to the bellydance artistry of the Shimmy for the Soul company, and – for more adult tastes – racy songs served as an accompaniment to the hearty local brews at the Frog and Fiddle Pub.
For those inclined, it’s an opportunity to dress up Renaissance style, with market vendors selling a range of costume ideas as well as authentic treats.
Both children and adults can enjoy games of skill and try their hand at the archery range – and there’s even a chance of being knighted by King Henry and his Queen for their efforts.
That it’s easy to get drawn into the historical make-believe of the Renaissance Festival can be seen from Alessandria Testani, who in addition to wearing Catherine’s regal raiment has also taken on publicity chores for this year’s event.
“This is the first year for both of us with the festival,” she said, adding that before joining the Royal Court, she and her sister had an otherwise relatively normal Surrey upbringing, including “going to White Rock beach every summer, playing softball in Guildford and taking ballet classes in Newton.”
“I auditioned for the festival in December and was accepted for the role of Queen Catherine,” Testani said. “A few months later, when we hadn’t found an actor who was the right fit for the role of Lady Anne, I brought in my sister to audition.”
It can turn into a long-term commitment Testani noted, pointing to French as an example.
“He’s been with the festival for quite a few years, first involved as a festival-goer, and eventually he joined on as our volunteer co-ordinator,” she said.
Family and group ticket packages are available and there is special pricing for children, youth and seniors. The Albion Fairgrounds are located at 23118 105 Ave. Maple Ridge.
For more information visit www.bcrenfest.com or for ticket information visit www.brownpapertickets.com/event/1068419