By ASHLEY CENTERS
For Inland 360
The Moscow Renaissance Fair celebrates spring this weekend on the Palouse with a taste of history and tradition. While the annual fair is renowned for its vibrant costumes, live music, artisan vendors and parades, many are unaware of its beginnings as a gathering for peace activists in the early ‘70s.
When it started 45 years ago, the fair coincided with the Blue Mountain Music Festival held at the University of Idaho Arboretum. The fair, which featured a maypole dance, grew into a bigger celebration of spring the first weekend of May, said Arlene Falcon of Moscow, who coordinates public relations for the festival.
“It was held indoors at first because of the weather, so when they tried to change the date in 1980 and Mount St. Helens blew, they knew we had to stick with the first weekend of May, rain or shine.”
Planning each year’s festival begins six months in advance. As a completely self-supporting organization always in need of more volunteers, Falcon said it’s getting harder to raise the necessary funds and avoid corporate sponsorship.
The group’s accomplishments over the years include making the fair waste-free. Plates, silverware, napkins and cups distributed by food vendors are completely compostable.
“Also, all the food booths represent local nonprofit organizations, giving them good fundraising opportunities,” Falcon said.
The fair also keeps its focus on local and hand-made. Each year, a king and queen are named for their community involvement. Regional artisan vendors are selected for their hand-crafted work.
“The biggest thing is that we are self-supporting and still manage to pull off this fair every year,” Falcon said.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: Moscow Renaissance Fair
WHEN: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Sunday
WHERE: East City Park, E. Third St., Moscow
OF NOTE: Find schedules for music, parades and more at www.moscowrenfair.org