Merchant’s Row near the Mid-East pavilion. Photo credit, Aoife.
Hello, readers! Here in Æthelmearc, we have been attending Pennsic so long that for Pennsic veterans, attending it is a matter of routine. After all, Pennsic was born here, on our home turf, before the Kingdom of Æthelmearc was a twinkle in the eye of Mamma East Kingdom. If someone travels from a great distance or is attending for the first time, or even is hearing about the event for the first time however, Pennsic is a huge and mysterious event fraught with pitfalls, conundrums, and unanticipated needs. If you ever listened to the CB radio chatter off I-79 during Pennsic, you’d understand just how confusing the event is for the uninitiated. Every year, about 10,000 guests from around the world visit our kingdom in search of the ultimate Pennsic War experience, be it martial activities, classes, parties, visiting friends, people watching, pageantry, or the perfect combination of all of these. From the outside, it must look mighty strange.
There is no reason to fret about this odd thing we medieval history buffs do, which we call the Great Pennsic War. Even if you simply need to explain the SCA’s largest event to your friends and family, this Links List is for you. Today’s article will deal with what it is, when it is, what to do to get ready, and what to do while there. As always, we SCAdians are so well documented that all you need for a perfect Pennsic can be found in handy links on the Internet.
Read on, enjoy, and drive safe. I will see you there!
Dame Aoife Finn
Barony of the Endless Hills, Kingdom of Æthelmearc.
Modernly known as Lisbeth Gelatt
Terrific Gypsy Vardo wagon with beautiful tromp l’oiel horses and dogs, is always a favorite of children. The arrangement is changed every day to make a story of animal life, as Pennsic unfolds. Photo credit, Aoife.
What is this Pennsic thing?
For Glory and Honor: Medieval Reenactors go to Battle (NBC News) This article that appeared on American national news neatly sums up what it is that we do at Pennsic. With terrific footage and picturesque scenes, you mint want to see if you appear in the background before you show it to your friends. You might be (almost) famous!
In It’s Own Light, a Night-Owl’s view of Pennsic War 33, a photographic essay by Rowan. This gorgeous photo essay of Pennsic was caught at the perfect intersection of wispy fog and moonlight, and is incredibly beautiful. If you happen to catch just a moment of such a night at any Pennsic you attend, you are one lucky gentleperson.
This photo appears as the wallpaper to the Facebook Pennsic page, sadly uncredited since it is a great shot. Do you recognize anyone in this picture?
Pennsic Facebook Page This is the place to go to ask general questions about Pennsic. Folks from all over the globe will happily answer. While not an official forum, it is a good resource to have when you need to know if there is a pediatrician onsite or what merchants sell the best raw material, or where to find the coffee houses.
Newcomer’s Pennsic Guide (unofficial) The title says it all. What can you expect if you’ve never been to Pennsic before? Find out here.
Atlas Obscura: Largest Medieval War of Modern Times Includes the Voice of America footage at this link. A couple of years ago, Voice of America did a world-audience piece on Pennsic. It is truly well done, and is a great place to point your mom, when she wants to know what, exactly, you will be doing on your vacation.
Pennsic, explained on Wikipedia. What did Wiki get wrong? I can spot one or two boo-boos, but it is generally a good resource for the uninitiated Pennsic-curious.
Pennsic, the unofficial popular website. Self-billed as an interactive “All things Pennsic,” this site is older than you think, but chock full of good advice, interesting commentary, and terrific photos.
Æthelmearc Royal encampment, a few years past. Photo credit, Aoife
Countdown to Pennsic: The App
Android, Blackberry , and Mac .
Paying for Pennsic: The Registration Office. If you are reading this article, it is already past deadline for your registration to count towards allocation of land for your group or household. You can still attend Pennsic, but your location will be surprise until you arrive and pick out a space from the areas allocated to individual campers. However, there are other benefits to pre-registration besides knowing your neighborhood in advance. Chief amongst them is the shorter time spent checking in.
The Pennsic War Street Map. This map provides bus-stop locations, and streets are labeled. It is a good idea to print a copy before you leave, so that you can hit the ground running (or bus riding) once your tent is up.
Getting There: Directions to Pennsic
Airport Shuttle information
A Pennsic Newcomer’s Packing Guide from Hartshorndale. No guide will have everything you need listed, but this packing list is a great jumping-off point. It covers all the basics.
Once You Are On Site:
Where to go for answers? Information Point! The folks at information point are there to answer questions. No question is too big or too small for their attention. Find them near the Cooper store, in the small grassy island created by the road in front of the old barn. Nearby will also be the post office, the previously mentioned store, and many, many merchants and food vendors. I like to call this area the heart of Pennsic.
First Aid onsite. There are usually trained medical folks right onsite, who can evaluate your condition and take appropriate action, be it writing a prescription, referring you to a specialist (many local doctors such as dentists agree to take emergency visits during Pennsic), or calling the med-evac helicopter unit to life-flight severe cases to the appropriate facility. There is no reason to tough it out if you have a health issue at Pennsic. Please do not expect that your normal doctor visits can be covered here, though. This is strictly a first aid station.
Classes: Pennsic University. If you want to know about historical anything, chances are that someone at Pennsic is teaching a class on the subject. A special area with its own tent classrooms is set aside specifically for these classes, and a master schedule is provided. In addition, there are special classes taught in individual encampments, and a last-minute additions and schedule changes board each day. Learn everything from culture-specific dance to historic cooking to metal smelting to fighting techniques, all neatly arranged and supported by the Pennsic University master schedule and the University Staff.
Youth Activities Schedule. If you attend Pennsic with children, this schedule is your best friend. Seriously. There is no reason for bored children at Pennsic. Your biggest trouble will be deciding what to do, and when. Trust me, a veteran Pennsic Parent whose children thrived, when I tell you to bring rain ponchos and wellies for your kids, because they will still want to go to play practice when it is raining.
Battlefield Schedule. You will need this schedule if you fight or fence, and if you do not, it will help you decide when the best combat photo opportunities will happen. It will also tell you when to witness the many other martial activities, specialty tournaments, fencing activities, and battlefield meetings, and when to get your kit inspected.
Performing Arts Schedule, and Cultural arts by type. There are hundreds of cultural arts activities to attend at Pennsic. Want to see live theatre? Hear the Known World Choir? Watch a display of foolery? A belly-dance exhibition? Find excellent suggestions here, and reap the benefits of the year-round planning and practice of the talented folks of Pennsic.
Known World A&S Display. Our medieval modern world relies on artists to function, because there is almost nothing mass-produced about the history we are trying to emulate. This display, open to everyone from any area of the world, is a showcase for artists and craftsmen of all kinds to show and tell about their works, meet like-minded artist, and to see what aspects of medieval and renaissance life others have chosen to honor. Anyone can enter, and anyone can come see what’s new in the world of re-creation. Pre-registration is strongly suggested for those wishing to show their artwork. Such show and tell activities are widely believed to be the most inspiring and encouraging aspect for hands-on craftspeople in the SCA.
The Legendary Pennsic Parties (A Schedule). While this schedule is unofficial, it is a handy guide to which group is hosting a party, and when. For some folks, Pennsic means parties, so here’s your guide to the colorful Pennsic nightlife. Please note that ID will be required for everyone attending many of these parties to prove you’re over 21, for those parties that serve alcohol.