“I bumped into the Queen of England. I bumped into a troubadour,” said Brien Poffenberger, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce. “There was a guy with a very long sword; made me nervous. A juggler, a magician.”
Both major supporters of USMH, Poffenberger and Mary Baykan of the Washington County Free Library were “knighted” into the USMH Realm by “Queen Elizabeth” from the Maryland Renaissance Festival, which provided several actors for the seventh annual event.
“It’s going to be a fun night,” Poffenberger said, dressed in traditional period garb before sitting down for a large feast that was held inside a giant tent decorated as a makeshift great hall.
Erin Harman, director of advancement and outreach for USMH, said this year’s fundraiser was the biggest yet with about 140 tickets sold, raising $30,000 for the university, surpassing last year’s total by about $5,000.
“We’ve had wonderful community support, really since we’ve opened,” she said. “For this event in particular ... our sponsors have supported us year after year. They’ve helped us to grow the fund each year, and because of the sponsors and also people who bought individual tickets, we were able to reach the $30,000 mark.”
To date, the money raised by the fundraiser has allowed USMH to award 55 scholarships to students, and Harman said she hopes to give out 10 more with this year’s proceeds.
“We’ve really tried to create a true Renaissance experience,” Harman said. “It feels as if you’re transformed back in time.”
Guests were treated to a traditional Renaissance-style meal, featuring a roast pig, as well as the opportunity to take part in a short interactive play, witness swordfighters duel, enjoy the comedic tunes of a strolling troubadour and be mystified by a period magician.
Along with numerous community business leaders, city and state officials also attended the festive event in the courtyard next to USMH’s building at the 32 W. Washington St.