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Sunz of Odin take stage before thousands at the Montana Renaissance Festival

Posted at 7:20 AM, Jun 04, 2024

RED LODGE — The Montana Renaissance Festival was hosted at the Red Lodge Rodeo Grounds on Saturday and Sunday, bringing in an estimated 13,000 attendees.

“If, for just a few minutes, you moved out of the ordinary, mundane, workday-world and went into the mystery, into magic, of the Renaissance – of the middle ages," suggested Madame Azira, a mystic card reader with the festival.

Beneath the hand-crafted goods, turkey legs, and spectacle of the modern-day knight, I was in search of The Sunz of Odin, a group of live-action role players (LARPers) from Billings.

Before I could begin my journey, however, I sought the help of a bard named Arwest, who said I might want to adopt bardic inspiration and identity for the day while in search of my rural royals.

“(Bards) were storytellers and historians, and they would tell the history of their particular patron, and often write songs in honor and glory of that patron," said Arwest while performing parables of old from Peter, Paul and Mary on her psaltery.

Fantasy identity applied, I asked regal and ruffian alike, if they had seen Buck Leet-Oglesby or Florindo Mercado, leaders with The Sunz of Odin.

“It’s not just larping, it’s Sunz of Odin. They have a back story and richness to them," said The King of Nerds, the owner of Dragon Egg Games, after I explained I initially set myself upon this campaign following a series of messages from the Sunz of Odin expressing displeasure with a former story I had put together about their party.

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It was explained by Sir Richard, The Bad Dragon, knights like those affiliated with The Sunz of Odin, are meant to be witnessed as "honorable," a contrast with the somber tone of the aforementioned tale.

Finally, when it came time to face the group, they explained the bygones were, in fact, bygone.

“We feel like the main purpose (of the first story) didn’t get out front. A lot of the backdrop and the heartache got pushed forward," said Florindo Mercado under his fantastical pseudonym, El.

Buck Leet-Oglesby had been absent from Sunday's affairs due to illness.

“We’ve had success with the class, we’ve had some great students show up. They’ve loved the games we’ve played," said Mercado.

Despite no hard feelings to be had, I thought upon the insights on Renaissance fair customs offered by a belly-dancing snake charmer to make amends through friendly battle with The Sunz of Odin, ending the journey among the transitory lands of Montana's finest lords and ladies.