SCA Name & Title: Baron Gunther Grunbaum
Years in the SCA: 23 years.
How did you find out about the SCA?
It was 1996; I had just graduated high school, and a friend, several years older than me had started fencing with the SCA. This friend knew I enjoyed all things medieval so he invited me to a medieval event near Pittsburgh.
Where did you start, what was your first event?
My first experience with the SCA was Pennsic 25! I was 18 years old and fell completely in love with Pennsic. I had been to the Renaissance Fair at Mount Hope plenty of times, but at the time Pennsic was something beyond all of my experience.
What is your persona?
I generally do German, but I’m not partial to any particular time period.
Why did you pick this persona?
I picked German due to my family heritage. I wanted to know more about how my ancestors would have lived.
Do you have any group or household affiliations?
I am loyal to my Kingdom and Barony alone.
Tell us a little bit about your life outside the SCA?
I grew up in a very rural environment, on what was left of the old family farm. At the time I hated taking care of the chickens and other animals, but I look back at it fondly. I spent most of my time as a youth exploring the forests, streams, and ponds near my home. I have a liberal arts degree, focused on literature and philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown. I have been happily married to my beautiful wife Tracey (Baroness Rosheen O fayh) for 11 years. We have a 2 year old, cute and curious little boy, Tristan. Tristan has quit a throwing arm and I hope that he will enjoy thrown weapons as much as his parents do. We have a companion/mascot corgi, Tessa Lou Ellen Stumps which demands substantial attention and play time. I am also lucky to be the father of another motivated and intelligent young man, Owen that is currently attending college in Pittsburgh. I work as a Case Manager at a reentry program that helps individuals being released from prison reintegrate into society. Being so close to the drug epidemic that plagues this part of the country is quite difficult. I do find a good bit of satisfaction from our success stories.
What SCA activities do you or have you participated in?
I have dabbled in quite a few activities in my SCA career so far. I love martial activities and participate in armored combat, combat archery, siege, fencing, archery, and thrown weapons. I have also been known to dabble in many Arts and Sciences such as sewing, cooking, leatherworking, scribal arts, fletching, and many more.
Tell us a little bit about your SCA experience (jobs, offices, duties, etc):
For several years I was the Chatelain for St. Swithin’s Bog and I enjoyed that immensely! I believe that recruitment and retention are very important and everyone should act as a Chatelain. I am currently the Baron of St. Swithin’s Bog, which has been a very interesting journey. When my wife and I started the process of running for Baron and Baroness, I had no idea how busy we would be. I have found that very little of my SCA time is my own, but it brings me great joy seeing others being recognized for their achievements. Also, the view of court from up front is much better! I am a thrown weapons and armored combat marshal, mostly so that we have more options for practice days and times. I have been Kingdom Thrown Weapons Champions two times and I am proud to be associated with the other Thrown Weapons Champions, past, present and future. I am also the Clerk for the Order of the White Horn, the Order of High Merit for Thrown Weapons. I didn’t have much experience with polling orders before taking over as clerk several years ago, but thankfully the Order has been patient with me as I learn how to conduct the polls.
When you started in the SCA what goals did you have?
When I first started, I just wanted to go to Pennsic and have fun, but as I explored a bit I decided that I wanted to participate in the battles. It took me a few years to get my gear together, but once I started I fought at every Pennsic that I attended.
What are your goals now?
I am about half way through my time as the landed Baron of St. Swithin’s bog, and my goal is to end my time as Baron with St. Swithin’s Bog being in the best state as possible. I want my group to continue to grow in the number of new members, to continue to have increased representation at events out of the local area, and to have more of the local populace take on offices.
What was the most intimidating thing you encountered in the SCA?
Being a landed Baron has had its intimidating moments. Our investiture was about two weeks before Pennsic and it was a total shock to have people that I look up to as examples of courtesy and paragons of the SCA were bowing to me…it didn’t seem right. It made me really take a hard look at how my actions and words would affect the Barony that I represent. Speaking and interacting with Royalty in a more casual setting was a difficult adjustment as well. It turns out, they are pretty cool people.
If you could accomplish only one thing in the SCA in the next year, what would it be?
My little one makes attending events a complicated situation most of the time. My goal for the next year would be to make more childcare arrangements so that my beloved and I can attend events together and enjoy ourselves without worrying about racing home to the kiddo.
What advice would you give to a new person in the SCA, or if new yourself what question would you ask and who would you ask it of?
Show up! I would give this advice to a new person in the SCA, “Show up!” Go to business meetings, go to practices, go to your local events! It doesn’t matter if you don’t have gear yet. It doesn’t matter if you are borrowing garb. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know the terminology or what to do. If you show up a few times, people will give or lend you gear and clothing. If you show up, you will learn the terminology and other traditions. If you show up, you will get to know the other local members and form those life-long friendships.
If you magically woke up with an SCA talent you do not already have, what would it be?
I would love to be good at playing music. Music adds so much to the feeling of events. I would love to be able to add to that atmosphere.
If you had to join the SCA in another “era” (1970, 1980, etc.), what “era” would you pick and why?
Is the future an option? I know that sounds strange, but hear me out. In the time that I’ve been in the SCA, the number of resources available to us has grown considerably. There is more research and documentation. There are more websites selling clothing, gear, and materials, and there are more options available. My hope is that the trend will continue and make the SCA more affordable and attainable, and therefore grow.
Don’t be modest, what award or honor would you like to receive above all else and why?
I would love to be a Pelican someday. No practice or meeting happens without service. No event happens without service. No group can exist without service. This Society would not exist without service, and these people make it possible. I would love to be one of the people that made it possible.
If you could pick one thing you would like to see more of in the SCA, what would it be?
I have always had some trouble with choosing one activity to do at events. Sometimes I want to do a bunch of different things at an event, but they always seem to happen at the same time and I have to choose one thing. I would like to see more events that encourage people to participate in multiple activities throughout the event. Imagine a thrown weapons/heavy tournament where participants have to do both. Maybe even team tournaments where each team member gets to participate in challenges that contribute to the whole team.
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