Sherwood Archers Best British Rivals at Festival

Robin Hood - Maid Marian hits a bull's-eye, and thousands join the merry-making event

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Maid Marian hit the center of the target with the ceremonial first arrow, the local Sylvan Archers routed their Nottingham nemesis to retain the coveted silver bowl and the rich gave it up for the poor -- if visitors buying food and goods from vendors counts in that category.

At any rate, thousands of people found their way to Sherwood Old Town over the weekend for the annual Robin Hood Festival. Organizers said 16,000 people attended, but cheerfully acknowledged that no one keeps track for sure.

Still, the organizers were counting it as a success.

"It went very, very well," said Phil McGuigan, in his eighth year as festival president. "It just flowed nicely."

Events and entertainment included a parade, music, dancers, a show by "The Reptile Man" and a sword-clanging performance by the Seattle Knights, a theatrical troupe that acted out a loosely interpreted version of the Robin Hood story. You know: Heart-of-gold bandit lives in Sherwood forest with his band of merry men, steals from the rich, gives to the poor, eludes sheriff of Nottingham, woos Maid Marian, etc.

One of the highlights was the 50th annual archery competition between the Sylvan Archers, who have a range off Southwest Bell Road outside of Wilsonville, and the Nottinghamshire County Archery Society of England. The English club shoots in June and mails its scores to Sherwood. Their score remains secret until the Sylvan group shoots during the Robin Hood Festival.

The locals won in all divisions of the recurve, compound and long bow competitions, said Sandy Wallace, one of the organizers. That means a silver Tiffany bowl given to the winning side remains in Sherwood, where it's kept in a vault at U.S. Bank.

By tradition, the high school girl selected as Maid Marian for the festival shoots a ceremonial opening arrow, sometimes with comical results. But 2006 Maid Marian Ellany Saxton took an archery lesson ahead of time, and it paid off. She hit the center of the target, Wallace said.

Visiting from the Nottingham club this year were a father and son team, Wayne and Simon Froggatt, who stayed with Wallace and her British-born husband, Bill, during the festival. Wayne Froggatt competed in the Nottingham shoot in June. Simon Froggatt, a top compound bow competitor in England, shot during the Sherwood festival and his scores were added to his team's score. It marked the first time competitors from the two clubs had shot at the same field at the same time, Wallace said.

Organizers will meet soon to recap this year's event, McGuigan said. The lone hitch this year was because of extensive street work in Old Town. A model train club had to move its exhibit around a corner from the main festival site. "But it was fine," McGuigan said. "The show goes on, you have to make do."

Eric Mortenson; 503-294-5917;