A bloody good time for all: Society for Creative Anachronism gathers for Renaissance fair

Posted: Thursday, April 30, 2009

There will be some medieval merrymaking this weekend as the local chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) will be hosting its "Day of Blood" event in Kenai, and unlike a Renaissance fair, everyone who attends is welcome to take part in the festivities.

"A Renaissance fair is more like theater. For this -- like all SCA events -- everyone participates, whether they want to dress up in period clothing, or just clap and cheer during the tournaments," said organizer Amber Gardner.

For those not in the know, the SCA is a living history movement in which participants engage in activities that help them explore the culture, arts and sciences of ages past.

"The SCA period encompasses the sixth through the 16th century of Europe, with an emphasis on the Middle Ages and Renaissance. And it's all about learning. We study the period of the Middle Ages and how people lived, then we reenact it and try to teach it to others," Gardner said.

The SCA divides its known world into geographic regions called kingdoms. There are 19 kingdoms, with over 30,000 members, in countries around the world.

These kingdoms are subdivided into smaller local chapters. The Alaska chapter is known as the Principality of Oertha and the Kenai Peninsula region is known as the Shire of Hrafnafjordr.

"The current Kenai group is going on about four years now and we have 15 to 20 active members, but when we hold events, we'll get people from all over -- Anchorage, the Mat-Su, even some from Outside occasionally," Gardner said.

The Day of Blood events will include numerous activities, including chivalric combat by competitors wearing replica metal or leather armor, and brandishing shields and replica weapons that while not deadly, still pack a wallop.

"We use rattan weapons, but there are swords, axes and maces. It's made to reenact, that's what we do, but it's heavy, full combat," Gardner said.

The fighting is not choreographed either, so the outcome is never predetermined. The combatant showing the best skill and athleticism, or at times the most cunning, wins.

"The winner will hold the title of Shire champion for one year," Gardner said.

Other Day of Blood events will include Roman board games, and arts and science classes, such as how-to courses on making chainmail and silk roses, calligraphy and illumination, which is the art of making pictures and border designs on parchment.

Also, following the festivities, a bardic -- a social gathering -- will be held for those who wish to discuss the happenings of the day and sing songs or read poetry around a campfire. The time and location of the gathering will be announced during the Day of Blood event.

Anyone wishing to attend the Day of Blood, but who does not have an outfit that fits the time period, can contact Gardner.

"We'll have loaner stuff that people can try on and wear for the day. We don't want anyone to feel out of place since we'll all be dressed up," she said.

The Day of Blood event will be Saturday at the Moose Lodge in Kenai, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Admission is $7 for adults (plus $3 if not an SCA member) and $2 for children 5 to 17. Checks can be made out to: SCA INC. - Shire of Hrafnafjordr.

For more information, contact Amber Gardner at 394-5335 or by e-mail at gardner_honey@hotmail.com.

Joseph Robertia can be reached at joseph.robertia@peninsulaclarion.com.

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