Bryan Mueller, right, tags Nichole Oakgrovedancer, who was playing a "rat," during last year's Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire in Kings Valley. The popular game for kids will be back at this weekend's 22nd annual faire, along with other new contests for villagers of all ages. 

The E, File photo

The Cascade Mounted Archers will offer a new attraction to this year's Shrewsbury Renaissance Fair in Kings Valley, but don't think you'll be able catch them next year: They won't be back.

The archers fire arrows at targets while riding galloping horses. But after the weekend's performances, the troupe will retire, said Jackie Hughes, the event's production director.

"It's Mongolian archery on horseback and that will be their final show. They are retiring after Shrewsbury," Hughes said. "It's going to be cool."

The archers will perform exhibitions at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the 22nd annual event. The two-day celebration of fine feasting and merriment from the Elizabethan era returns with jousting, jugglers, bards, artisans, merchants and marketplaces.

Many of the food and craft vendors at the event are fundraisers for school and community groups, including the Kings Valley Charter School Foreign Language Club.

This year, organizers are encouraging people to enjoy the shaded areas and extra entertainment options in Friar Tuck's Forest.

Villagers can find life-sized rocking horses to ride in the forest, along with two stages that will feature performances by the improv group No Parchment Needed, the Salem Madrigal Singers, the Sherwood Renaissance Singers, Arden the Fiddler, Aria the Juggler and more.

Two Towns Ciderhouse will also be on tap at the Staggering Oak Tavern, Hughes said.

In the back of the forest are the Picts (medieval Scots), just one of the history re-enactment guilds at the event.

"They are such a fantastic living history, even though they are out of our time frame. We bring them in any way," Hughes said.

Last year, 2,000 visitors toured through the area to learn about the Picts, the Romans and 900 A.D., she said.

In addition to the popular Rat Catchers game, in which children can win prizes by chasing whomever they spot wearing a stuffed rat on their head, there are other free contests to challenge and award younger villagers.

A squire induction will be held in the Nobles Yard.

"Any young lad or lassie that goes over to the Nobles Yard will be sent on quests at 1 p.m. If they can fulfill their tasks and bring them back to the Nobles, they will go ahead and knight them," Hughes said.


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