Modern and medieval clash on fields near Ephrata
Monday, March 15, 2010
ON THE WEB
An Tir, the Society for Creative Anachronism’s kingdom in the Pacific Northwest, is one of the largest in SCA’s Known World (meaning much of the real countries around the globe). An Tir covers Washington, Oregon, northern Idaho, and a wide swath across western Canada. SCA’s Grant County club is called the Shire of Ambergard. More information is available online at antir.sca.org and ambergard.org.
Wenatchee’s own SCA event — the Wenatchee Renaissance Faire — will be held April 17 at the Wells House on the Wenatchee Valley College campus. The event is sponsored by the Wenatchee Medieval Mayhem Club. More information is available at 682-6860, or online at wenrenfaire.com.
EPHRATA — The clash and clang of medieval battle drew so many warriors that you practically had to beat ’em off with a stick.
No, really. Five feet away from spectators, a field full of heavily armored knights and soldiers literally beat the living daylights out of each other with sticks, swords, axes, battle clubs and some kind of jousting pole. Then came the rain of snub-nosed arrows — thwwt! thwwt! — not to mention crossbows forcefully firing tennis balls.
“There aren’t very many places,” laughed Tovi Naff of Moses Lake, “where you get to wear funny clothes and go out and kill your friends.”
Nearly 200 helmeted, armored and dues-paying members of the Society for Creative Anachronism gathered here Saturday for a day of good-natured battle and siege. War in the Oasis — meaning the city’s Oasis Park — is hosted annually by the Shire of Ambergard, the SCA name for Grant County’s fan club of all things medieval, from weaponry to clothing to cooking to crafts.
At the park, a siege castle — plywood and portable — topped one end of the battlefield where troops mounted parapet attacks, bridge assaults, responding defensive maneuvers, archery contests and rapier competitions. On the sidelines, middle-aged Middle Agers discussed the “arts and sciences” — non-battle aspects of civilization in a pre-1600 A.D. world. Damsels in handmade garb — peasants to noblewomen — politely applauded the on-field mayhem and offered big honkin’ hot dogs to visitors. “No, thank you, m’lady.”
Participants operated for the day in a kind of time-warp that flipped between the modern and Medieval, several observers noted. Battle-ready troops arrived in Toyota Tacomas packed with shields and armored breastplates, wore Nike Air shoes under articulated metal leg protectors, and pummelled each other but saved enough breath to take a sideline call on a cell phone.
For parts of the day, eager combatants and squires answered to the names of their chosen SCA personas — Serafina, Triona, Bacchus, Sedric and many more — and responded to fellow participants based on research into the period their persona lived.
“We encourage people to study their personas, the accompanying history and play along,” said Terri Morrison of Ephrata, aka Bronwen Elgars. “But all that’s based on how far the individual wants to take it. How far you want to go is completely up to you.”
And although safety’s a top priority — nothing too sharp, nothing too pointy — the adrenaline rush of battle, the thrill of serving one’s crown and country and, of course, all the cool and authentic war gear like chain mail, leather leggings and segmented combat gloves ranked as major draws for the fighting troops.
“Most of all, it’s really fun,” said Bryan Schnetter of Poulsbo, aka Baron Sedric Wlfraven. He’d just humbled an opposing infantryman under a flurry of knee-bending blows. “It’s really, really fun.”
Others, returning battle-weary from the field or offering sideline food or wares, agreed.
Sara Urdahl of Wenatchee, aka Julia Sempronia, said her passion for history attracted her to SCA’s learning and teaching opportunities about Medieval life. “As a kid, history had been boring and dry with no real context,” she said. “But now I study cultures in crisis, mostly ancient Rome, and this has become the most rewarding of hobbies.”
Her studies have led her to recreate ancient Roman cuisine — “more mediterranean than Italian. Delicious!” — recite Latin poetry and make her own pre-450 A.D. garb.
Morrison, aka Bronwen Elgars, said she loves the artistic side of SCA activities. As an official Kingdom scribe, she’s entrusted with crafting handmade manuscripts and award parchments that use gold leaf and special paints to display heraldry in all its glory. Other scribes and artists, she said, carve such documents into horn and stone, or shape them in metal.
“And I love the camping,” added Morrison, referring to the huge SCA gatherings that promote modern and medieval crafts, cooking and clothes-making techniques. “Where else,” she asked, “can you join 500 to 8,000 of your closest friends for a wonderful weekend, and the whole time be dressed like a crazy woman?”
Mike Irwin: 665-1179
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