TODAY'S WEATHER
Idaho Falls
87°
clear sky
humidity: 21%
wind: 5mph NE
H 89 • L 87

Renaissance Faire attracts hundreds to small Idaho town

Arts & Entertainment

Share This

SAMARIA — Baby animals. Archery and foam sword fighting. Arts and crafts vendors. The Malad Valley Renaissance Faire and Baby Animal Spring Festival had a bit of everything.

Hundreds converged on tiny Samaria, an unincorporated town of fewer than 200 people, for some renaissance-era entertainment on Friday and Saturday. The attendance numbers were more than expected by both the vendors and organizers.

Luke Waldron, who oversees the event’s venue — the Malad Valley Heritage Square — was among those pleasantly surprised.

“I didn’t know what to expect, honesty. There were not expectations, we just wanted people to come and have fun,” he told EastIdahoNews.com. “This year was just about letting people learn about it, get exposure, and keep doing it next year, and make it an annual thing.”

animals at Malad Valley Renaissance Faire and Baby Animal Spring Festival
Animals, baby and adult, were among the most popular attractions at the faire. | Kalama Hines, EastIdahoNews.com

As Waldron explained, with the heritage square finally at a place where it was ready to be shared with the masses, he was planning an event to be its grand opening. The plan he was in the process of hatching was a baby animal festival, where he would share some of the young animals on his farm.

But those plans changed when a fellow educator, Donna Whipple, contacted him about a request from her students.

Whipple, a homeschool instructor, teaches a class on Friday, when the rest of the schools in the Malad area do not have classes, focused on the renaissance era and Shakespeare. The class, she said, has become so popular that other area children, homeschooled and public school students alike, have taken to attending as an extracurricular.

Following requests from her students, she asked Waldron, who recently stepped away from teaching middle school history and geography, if he was interested in hosting a Renaissance Faire.

The product of that request was all Whipple was hoping for.

“I really was hoping for a good crowd, and I am thrilled to see how many people showed up,” she told EastIdahoNews.com.

As Whipple explained, the key to events like this is recruiting an assortment of vendors, with products to please the masses.

The efforts of all involved — which Waldron said included around 75 volunteers — were successful.

Vendors at the event included an artist doing caricatures featuring fantasy settings, a pirate selling homemade medieval accessories, face painting and so much more.

artist, Malad Valley Renaissance Faire and Baby Animal Spring Festival
A local artist draws a caricature. | Kalama Hines, EastIdahonews.com

Among the vendors was Volcano Girls Soap and Stone, a Malad-based small business selling signature soaps and pumice stones with lava rock harvested in town.

With their business still fledgling, owners Mike and Cecilia Hess have primarily relied on social media to sell their products. But they jumped at the chance to host a vendor booth at the local event.

“We wanted to try some craft fairs and stuff, and this has been great,” Mike said. “It’s been phenomenal how many people have come out and been stopping by. I hope they keep doing this, I really do.”

Soaking in the event with their three daughters, the couple enjoyed not just the opportunity to introduce people to their product but also doing their own mingling.

“A renaissance festival is, kinda, a hidden culture,” Cecilia said. “People come out and everyone is dressed up, it’s really neat.”

The Hesses, Mike said, have already expressed an interest in returning to the event in the coming years.

entertainment, Malad Valley Renaissance Faire and Baby Animal Spring Festival
Renaissance-themed entertainment included a medieval-era dating game-esque show by The Antics Comedy Improv group from Logan, Utah. | Kalama Hines, EastIdahoNews.com

As Waldron said, making this an annual event is the plan.

But Whipple is, at least now, a bit apprehensive. As she said with a laugh, “this is so much work.” She explained that each year, her Friday class changes to provide what her children need, and it was not her plan to carry on with these Renaissance lessons next year. But this weekend’s faire has been such a hit among her students, and a Shakespeare festival planned for May has created so much interest, she’s afraid she may not be left with a choice.

“They’re having so much fun I’m afraid they’re going to beg,” she said.

Anyone interested in taking in the heritage square at another similar event will not have to wait until next year.

Waldron told EastIdahoNews.com that the success of the faire has confirmed an event he was tentatively planning for the fall. Sometime in October, the heritage square will host a Fall harvest pumpkin and apple festival, once again welcoming locals and visitors alike to the tiny farming town.

Luke Waldron (left) and Donna Whipple, Malad Valley Renaissance Faire and Baby Animal Spring Festival
Faire organizers, Luke Waldron and Donna Whipple. | Kalama Hines, EastIdahoNews.com

SUBMIT A CORRECTION