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Feast Of Will Celebrates The Beginning Of Summer And The Opening Of The Elizabethan Stage Of The Oregon Shakespeare Festival

 

The annual Feast of Will opens the official Shakespeare season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon

Every June people from all around the world gather in Lithia Park for a hearty picnic dinner, entertained by enlightened period music, and culminating with a bagpipe-led march to the outdoor Elizabethan Theatre to celebrate the beginning of another exciting season at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival!

The Feast of the Tribe of Will (now Feast of Will) is a tradition dating back to the early 1950s, held in Lithia Park to celebrate the opening of the outdoor season. In the beginning, an opening night buffet was held indoors at Susanne Homes Hall on the Southern Oregon College of Education (now SOU) campus and later at the Tally Ho Restaurant in Ashland. The event, a chicken barbeque, moved to Lithia Park in 1956. Dr. Margery Bailey and Martha Dawkins, president of the Tudor Guild, are credited with giving the long running event its name that year through the hand-written invitations sent out by Dr. Bailey, which proclaimed:

Oregon Shakespearean Festival Association and Tudor Guild of the Shakespearean Festival You are bidden to the feasting of the Tribe of Will, before the playing of Richard the Third, his Tragedy, on the first day of August, Anno Domini MDCDLVI. The gentlefolk are to come together in the wooded park at the town of Ashland at six of the clock before sundown. Good ale will be broached from the keg by Bardolph Host, and roasted meats served forth by the maids, with fruits of the year, and the new root from the Indies—piping hot & buttered. Steward William Patton must needs know the numbers of the company; so we pray you let him within the week know your mind on’t, and let him have a trifle of three crowns or so for each one of your following [$2.50] to reward the service withal.

By Martha Dawkins and & John Thompson [President of the Board of Directors]: for the adventurers herein.

The Feast of Will has been run as a fundraiser by the Ashland Lions Club for years now, with help from the Early Bird Club, the Ashland Garden Club, and the Boy Scouts, and has featured performances by the Southern Oregon Kilty Band, Jefferson Bag Pipe Band, Jefferson Baroque Orchestra and Choir, and the Siskiyou Singers.

 

Please check back in the Spring of 2017 for event details.

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