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Board change leaves E.V. Cain out of Auburn Renaissance Faire

Cain’s Crossing won’t feature local students after ‘takeover’
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Has skullduggery been afoot behind the scenes at the Renaissance Faire? A former board member is claiming what amounts to a hostile takeover of the Cain’s Crossing Renaissance Faire board. But a current board member is contending changes in board structure and membership have made it a better, less-fractured organization. The biggest change in this year’s Cain’s Crossing fair at Regional Park will be the lack of involvement from the Auburn school that has leant its name to the event. The fair, instead, no longer has a Friday event hosted by E.V. Cain Middle School for seventh-graders that has drawn upward of 900 students to an educational experience steeped in the 1400s. While the forecast is for clear skies Saturday and then some clouds on Sunday, storm clouds have been brewing over the event for some time, according to former board members. “I hope it rains,” said John Redgwick, a former board president known to fairgoers as the Earl of Nottingham. Redgwick said that changes this year are the result of skullduggery and a hostile takeover that forced out E.V. Cain educators and left supporters of a Yuba County-based, non-profit fencing school – Diamond Rose Academie d’Armes – in control of the fair, its profits and Cain’s Crossing props. But Gina Swankie, a spokesman for the current Cain’s Crossing organization, said that a bylaw change that allowed board membership to increase – and shifted the voting majority away from the E.V. Cain focus and Redgwick’s group – was not hostile or a takeover. It came after three board members representing E.V. Cain had resigned, she said. “Prior to the bylaws finally offering all directors a vote, board meetings were characterized as a power struggle in which the business of creating a fundraiser to be proud of was mired in argument over who had decision-making power,” Swankie said. Redgwick, who resigned last year, said he wants no part of the current Cain’s Crossing aggregation, won’t be participating and is telling others to do the same. “It’s no longer an open organization to totally benefit Auburn and Nevada-Grass Valley schools,” he said. Swankie said the board is now composed of members from Diamond Rose, non-guild members and the guilds House of Swindon, Castlewood and St. Ambrose. All guilds provide costumed participants for the event. And E.V. Cain Middle School, which started the fair as an onsite educational experience for its students, is now no longer part of event that bears its name. The three educators affiliated with the school’s Friday student day, all resigned at the same meeting last year. For the past three years, it had been a three-day event, with schools-only activities on Friday. Joyce Silva, one of the board members who resigned, helped found the event with E.V. Cain teacher Shirley Paris seven years ago. The schoolgrounds played host to the first three Cain’s Crossing fairs and as Renaissance Faire guilds became more involved, moved to Regional Park and expanded to three days in 2007. The fair at its new location immediately turned a profit, allowing organizers to donate $1,500 to the Auburn Education Foundation in 2007, $4,000 in 2008 and $8,000 last year, Redgwick said. The fair’s non-profit had $17,000 on hand after the donation and expected to have expenses of $12,000 this year to put it on, he added. Redgwick said that with the school presence now no longer on the board, the Cain’s Crossing organization is stating on its Web site that it will be raising funds to support education in the region. With Diamond Rose being a non-profit education organization, Redgwick said his fear is money will be going to that group rather than schools in the Auburn area. Swankie said the Auburn Education Foundation will be the recipient and Diamond Rose is not an educational entity that is eligible to receive funds. Chris Atkinson, Diamond Rose chief sword instructor, declined to comment Thursday about the controversy and deferred questions to Swankie. Swankie said she was disheartened by the criticism coming from Redgwick and others. “Since John’s departure, the board has chosen to focus on the objectives of the organization and not get mired in mudslinging,” Swankie said. “The business of the organization is to do what is best for the organization to ensure a successful faire that will benefit the community with immersive education and support.” Paris, a teacher at E.V. Cain, said her departure came over a difference of opinion on how to handle proceeds from the fair and a philosophical dispute. “I’m an educator,” she said. “It had to be about the kids.” Redgwick said he isn’t happy with the Cain’s Crossing name being retained but because the non-profit was incorporated as the Cain’s Crossing Organization, there is nothing that can be done to take it away. Paris said the Cain’s Crossing group sent the district information on this year’s fair but nothing was distributed because it was no longer a school event. “We chose not to participate,” she said. “It’s a weekend event.” Now Paris and Silva are considering establishing a new Renaissance fair with more of a global perspective. That could happen as early as next year. This year, however, the fair continues without involvement from either E.V. Cain or the Auburn Union School District. “The show must go on to fulfill our mission,” Swankie said. ------------------------------- Cain’s Crossing Renaissance Faire When: From 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday Where: Auburn Regional Park, 3770 Richardson Drive Admission: Adults $12; Children and seniors $5