When most people see members of the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), they think that we are Renaissance Fair actors. We are actors but only in our own mind. We participate in events for the sheer fun of it and to just get away from the world, if only for a weekend. The SCA is an older organization, we hold fighter practice, we give school demos, we participate in tournaments, and we go to war.
The SCA was started in 1966 by students studying the middle ages. We are a group of people who want to recreate the middle ages, not as it was, but how it should have been. Since we are recreating the middle ages in modern times, it is a anachronism (something “out of time”). The first Kingdom was the Kingdom of the West. The Kindom of the East and the Middle Kingdom were established as the SCA spread across the United States. Currently, there are Kingdoms covering the US, Canada, Europe, Asia, South Africa, and Australia. Kingdoms are divided up into Principalities, Baronies, and Shires. We have branches established on military bases, naval ships and local colleges.
For most of us, the weekly fighter practice is a social gathering. The fighters start putting on their armor and spouces might bring out inkle looms, card weaving projects, or scrolls using caligraphy. Once the fighters have on their armor, we see them pick up the rattan weapons and engage in combat. The fighters all follow the code of chivalry and take the blows that either kill them or incapacitate a limb. On occasion, we get interested bystanders, and one of us will give them information on who we are and what we do. We have a well established social media presence as the SCA, and the Kingdoms all have groups established on Facebook.
During the school year, we get requests from schools that ask us to show the students what medieval combat might have been like and what type of crafts they might have done. We determine who is available and what activities we can bring. We try to have at least two fighters and several people doing arts and crafts. The children are encouraged to talk to the members and try doing some of the arts and crafts. They also get the opportunity to swing a boffer stick, (pvc pipe, wrapped in a pool noodle and duct tape), at the fighters.
Every six months in our kingdom, we hold a Crown Tourney. This is where our hard suit fighters enter a tournament to determine who will be the next King and Queen. The winner of Crown will serve three months as heirs and then “Step Up” at Coronation. Coronation is the closest thing that we have to a Ren Fair. The pagentry is splendid, and banners are displayed with pride as the new king is sworn in by the old king. When a King “Steps down” they are awarded the title of “Count” if was their first reign. If they win Crown a second time, they will get the title of “Duke”. We also run other tournaments during the year, some are fund raisers and others are to determine who will be the Baronial Defender.
Wars are where several hundred to several thousand people get together and set up camp for the weekend or even longer. Our local war is called Estrella War and is held annually during the last week of February. Our current location for the war is south of Phoenix and takes a large parcel of land. We have spaces for individual groups to camp, parking, battle fields, archery, arts and science, and the royal court. The primary reason for the war is to see which side will win the battles, but the real reason is to see friends from other kingdoms, buy food and clothes, and learn new skills. There are usually more activities going on after the sun sets than what occurs during the day. We all have campfires going, people playing drums, people telling stories and some roving entertainers going between the fires. Throughout the year, other kingdoms run wars as well. The most well-known ones are Pensic, Gulf Wars, Great Western War, and Antir–West War. We typically will have representatives from our kingdom at them.
We are not Renaissance Fair actors, but we do recreate the past as we would have liked it to be. Our audience is the members of the SCA. Weekly gatherings, demos, tournaments, and wars are just a small part of who we are. We participate because it is fun and allows us the chance to act out some of what were once just fantasies. This year we celebrated the fiftieth year of the organization and groups are still holding fighter practices, school demos, tournaments, and wars.
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