It takes nearly 300 volunteers to make the Washington Fantasy Renaissance Faire in Wauna a success, and Dean Draeger is one of the most loyal long-timers.

Draeger in one of his new, nearly-finished structures that includes a stage on the top floor and ticket windows on the bottom. Photo by Rodika Tollefson

Draeger hits about 200 volunteer hours just riding the mower to get the grounds ready, not to mention he has designed and built just about every structure used on the set. During the slow months of January and February, he spends about 10 hours per week on the faire, then around 30 hours by March, and June through October he’s full time at least.

Draeger, who is also the company CFO and vice president, said this year he is part of the staff who, for the first time ever, will get paid for time spent during the event itself. During the faire, he is basically the “go to” guy, in charge of security, parking, sanitation, and administration.

“Dean has become the backbone and my strong right arm,” organizer and CEO Ron Cleveland said. “He has spearheaded our construction and pre-faire activities, allowing me to pursue the promotional and legal end of business. We could not get the faire off the ground each year if we didn’t have Dean to fall back on.”

Both Draeger and Cleveland are Key Pen residents. Draeger has been training his son, Christopher, to take over some day. He’s taught him fencing, broad swords, axe fighting and other medieval arts starting at age 4, and now Christopher is starting to teach his 4-year-old daughter, Alexis. The entire family goes all out at the faire, including Draeger’s mom, brothers, nieces and nephews; his late father loved it as well.

“I’ve always felt I was born in the wrong century,” he said. “When everything’s set up and people are in garb, I feel at home.”

The faire is always looking for volunteers for tasks ranging from first aid to parking. Anyone who loves the Renaissance period should have a blast: All volunteers must be in costume and in character. Call 851-4114 for details or see www.washingtonrenfaire.com.

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