There are two Arts and Sciences activities being run at next month’s Japanese Iris Festival event (June 4, 2022 – 121 Brady’s Run Rd, Beaver Falls, PA 15010).
The first is the Iron Comet A&S Competition. The competition has no theme, and accepts all types of projects. The competition is mandatory for anyone in the Iron Comet Challenge, but it is open to everyone. Anyone can win, but only those participating in the martial competitions
will receive tournament points.
The second is the Festival A&S Display. The display is also open to any type of project, but projects displaying arts of Eastern Asia are encouraged. There are no points awarded, no judging, and no winner. Please bring all your most interesting, most useful, most attractive, and most intense projects to show. Research and instruction are not required, but we would love to see any supporting documentation if you have it, and enjoy having you answer questions about your work if you’re not busy elsewhere. You can display as many items as you wish, but if you need a lot of room please consider bringing your own tables and possibly your own shelter.
Both activities will be under shelter, but this event is primarily outdoors so please be prepared to protect your entries from stray raindrops and errant breezes. By site policy, no glass bottles are allowed.
You do not need to register your entries or display items ahead of time,
but if you want to send email to let event staff know what you are
bringing or if you have any questions, please contact “ansminister (at)
As of Thursday April 28 at 7PM, Master Madoc Arundel stepped down as Head of the Royal Æthelmearc Guild of Brewers, Vintners, and Meadhers, and we, Mistress Elska á Fjárfelli, assisted by Guild Deputy Lady Violeta de Valencia, are taking over leadership of the Brewers Guild.
Lady Violeta and I would like to thank Master Madoc for the awesome job he did with the Guild, growing its presence in person as well as online. I can’t think of saying our thanks any better than old-time brewer Master Artemius of Delftwood: “You fostered and advanced guild and mentored many of the members. You encouraged many of us to try new recipes and gave honest feedback that helped us all grow as brewers. The kingdom has benefited from your efforts on many levels. Thank you very much for your service and guidance over the years.” Thank you from the bottom of our heart!
Naturally, we jumped right into the job and are busily coordinating Guild participation both at Æthelmearc War Practice and of course at Pennsic Royal. Our new Guild Chamberlain Lord Jean Phillipe from St. Swithin’s Bog started inventory of the Guild equipment right away to make sure everything is spic and span come Pennsic Bar time, with a hopeful early appearance of the bar at War Practice. And don’t worry, we will track down you active brewers and see what we can coordinate for Pennsic bar donations soon (please PM or email us).
For those who are not as familiar with the two of us – or just itching to get out and share a good home brew – the Brewers Guild, in collaboration with Bardic Champion Master Morien MacBain, will host a Brews & Bardic in the Barn Social Friday evening from 4 to 8PM in the Great Hall during War Practice (stay tuned for more on this event). Come say hi, share a brew, admire the Guild bar & taps, and hang out to enjoy the song & stories! After two years of Plague, I am betting there are some stories…!
Again, thank you, Master Madoc, for your service to the Æthelmearc Brewing community, and for your offer to stay on as Guild Webminister. We hope to do you proud. Understandably, the Guild is not quite the same now as when we the Plague first manifested and we figure it best to start back up with a clean slate. If you consider yourself an active brewer and/or active Guild Officer, please reach out (sooner rather than later) so we can update the Guild Roster, etc.
Lady Violeta and I look very much forward to help the Guild back on its feet, and welcome back our brewers, vintners and meadhers. Now go forth, and ferment All The Things!
Mistress Elska and Lady Violeta
Head of the Brewers Guild, and Deputy
Learn more about the Æthelmearc Brewers Guild here
Over the years, the Ice Dragon Arts & Sciences Pentathlon has seen some cool and unusual entries. I’ve mentioned a few in previous articles about the Pent and Pent group projects earlier this year, like the fantastical entry of three generations of ferret breeding by John the Artificer. Current Pent coordinator Cori remembers the hubbub that one created: “He can’t enter ferrets!” “Why CAN’T he enter ferrets?” and told me “if I recall correctly the next year the rules said No Live Animals.” Oh, to be the one a rule is named for – our word fame would last forever!
I must admit I had so much fun tracking down rumored entries through the grapevine I figured I’d write yet another Pent story. It’s not a chore at all as these pretty much write themselves! Did you hear about the year someone entered a full size Viking bed, which had to be stood up on its hind legs against a wall? Which, I now realize, explains the comments Hrólfr and I overheard when walking his tree log warp-weighted loom, in pieces, down the hallway towards the Pent room… “is that a bed? or a loom? no… I think a bed!” One time there was a painted-on-canvas tapestry of a whopping 25 feet long – recreating part of the Bayeux embroidery – and even a juggler that did tricks requiring 20 feet of clearance – he worked with five clubs and needed to throw high to have time to juggle all five – so he performed outside while the judges watched through a window.
One particular entry I personally would have liked to see up close was one of the first ceramic entries: a puzzle jug. This practical joke jug had holes at in the bottom and another one on the handle, for the thumb. If the thumb did not cover that hole on top, the water in the jug would sprinkle out the bottom. I do not know if the documentation mentioned this bit of information at the beginning, or at the end… and in my mind I see surprised and slightly damp judges! I was not able to track down this particular artisan to ask for clarification, but I found plenty of others more than happy to chat about their cool and unusual Pent entries.
A soapstone lamp entered by (then) Honorable Lord Cynwyl
A more recent entry that caught the eye of the audience was a beautiful teardrop shaped soapstone oil lamp by Master Cynwyl (then Lord). He remembers everyone loved it and said “I still use it at feasts sometimes. Since my persona is 11th cent. Irish, there would have been contacts with the Vikings in Ireland, so I thought it would work.” To shape the soapstone he used a coping saw, files and a sharp spoon-like tool called a scorp, and has used both linen and hemp twine for the wick. He uses vegetable oil for the fuel and lights it by dipping the wick in the oil, putting it in the grove and lighting it. He found that it will burn for about 9 hours and that the soapstone will heat up while it’s burning. The biggest challenge? “The hard part was tracking down the soapstone locally. Luckily there is a [local] geology/fossil store that had some.”
A much less impressive entry – perhaps, at first glance – could be the candied ginger by Mistress Honnoria of Thescorre (Order of the Sycamore at the time of entering). But while she is a Society renowned potter, she is not an SCAdian cook! She explained she had entered the candied ginger two years in a row: “The first year the scores were good, and I took the comments from that year to help my entry the next year. The second year I entered my scores on candy ginger were the best I had for the entire pent. I want to say I scored over 55 points on a scale of 60. It is absolutely worth taking feedback and improving once entry for the following year. That’s part of what good feedback does. I would say as long as someone is actually making the object again, I have no issues with them using the same type of item the year after. It was my best of the five scores that year and I believe ever.”
Like most artisans, she found it is often the hardest to find the fifth entry in the pent, and goes on to say (I love this part!): “At least personally it really challenges an individual into doing something they may not normally do. I would also say that one of my most interesting entries in terms of feedback was a weaving entry that I used based on a museum of London find. It was a card woven d-shaped cord. I tried to replicate it using cotton and the number of threads in the original. It was supposed to be round. I absolutely could not get it round and it wound up being the same D shape as the one in the book. By actually making it I figured out that the reason it was d-shaped and not round is you couldn’t pull it tight enough and there wasn’t enough warp threads to actually make it round. I broke a lot of thread in the weft making that cord. I wrote all of that up in my entry. It took a higher score than some beautifully done belts. The belts were beautiful, but they didn’t explain anything on why they chose to use acrylic versus wool or silk. They also didn’t explain any problems or issues they had. It is so important to put in to documentation if you had issues, what they were, why they were issues, and what you did to resolve them if you were able.”
The malt house miniature entered by (then) Honorable Lord Madoc Arundel
My personal favorite was a malt house miniature entered by fellow brewer Master Madoc Arundel (then THL). The 5 foot miniature was fully functional although not very efficient, mostly due to scaling. He remembers he “did have some challenges with the heat sink between the kiln and the drying rack… again, because of scale. Since I could not get a very large fire in the small kiln, getting it hot enough to actually draw heat through the sink was a challenge. I was using actual burnt-wood charcoal and had to soak the base layer liberally in lighter fluid to get them to set a good enough coal bed to keep the temperature up. Unlike a full-size kiln which I would have been able to fire-and-forget, I had to constantly tend the fire to keep it hot enough.”
Madoc’s malting kiln spouting nearly a foot of flame.
Madoc shared he learned a number of new skills for this project, including how to do mortise and tenon construction for the half-timber framing. And he harvested grapevines to use in the wattle and daub walls, and wove them before applying the plaster. He wrote: “The coolest thing, though, was the first time I fired up the kiln to see if it would draw through the vents… at its hottest, I had flame shooting nearly a foot out the top of the chimney.” Or course, it being a malting kiln, the real test was running a batch of grain through the process. He did two dried batches – one that was left just dry enough not to start growing again before the event and the other dried, left sit overnight, then ran through another kiln cycle to ‘roast’ slightly. “Honestly, I am as surprised as anyone that it actually functioned correctly.”
Another, fiery, project was entered by Master Creador (then Lord). In true artisan frantic, he wrote his documentation the night before the event as he almost did not enter! One of his pent entries had literally blown up: “The poor kitchen ceiling was covered in lead. Actually the modern, less toxic version of lead.” Creador recouped and did enter his fishing research in 4 categories instead. He did so well he now wonders if he would have won the full Pent if he had had that one last entry! The project came about when he finally located his primary source the month before the Pent, after researching fishing for many years.
His entry consisted of fishing line and wool for the flies and using dye recipes from the elusive Treatise (dyeing and weaving), as well as cork bobbers (wood working). He also entered fish bait made from rabbit (cooking), and entered the whole project in the mixed / specialty art category (the current categories are slightly different). His fail was with the lead weights (metal working). He used a handmade mold of tempered clay and wrote: “Unfortunately there was some moisture in the mold so it blew. Luckily I have quick reflexes.” Sadly for us, there are no pictures of the fail nor of the project as this all happened back in 1995 before project photography was a thing. Creador remembers, back then “I did most of my research through interlibrary loan.”
Openwork honeycomb turnshoes, part of (then) Honorable Lord Robert’s Roving Shoe Show in the Pent Display
Not all cool and unusual entries to enjoy during the Ice Dragon Pent end up in the competition: the Pent also hosts a vibrant display. In the last pre-COVID Pent, Master Robert (then THL) made good use of this non-competitive opportunity. In his own words: “The genesis of the shoe show project came over a year before – it was not a last-minute idea. It seemed like a good way to display a corpus of work in order to draw attention – as [my Laurel] so often encouraged me to do – in a highly visible space. With that display in mind, I set about making a number of pairs of shoes designed to represent some broadly topical footwear-related items across time and space covered by our period.” Anyone entering the Pent room halted in awe and just had to come take a closer look at Robert’s amazing, and amazingly colorful, Roving Shoe Show!
But the one entry that brings home the cheese, pun totally intended? That was “that amazing kid’s cooking entry from the last in person pent.” Indeed, Cornelia won our hearts by appealing to our stomachs with her wonderful medieval mac & cheese. She says that she was excited to win, and nervous during the judging. But then, aren’t we all!
Cordelia with her mouth watering medieval Mac & Cheese entry
Want to learn more about entering the Passing of the Ice Dragon Arts & Sciences Pentathlon? Check the website here. Anyone can enter, and if you are not sure you can enter your cool and unusual project, just shoot Pent Coordinator Cori an email – she’d love to hear from you!
The Ice Dragon Arts & Sciences Pentathlon, often shortened to the Pent, is an arts and sciences competition dating back to the second Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon, held in 1978. But what exactly is this Pent? We’ve all seen arts & sciences displays at events, perhaps even entered a competition or two ourselves, but apparently the Pent different? While it has had many forms over the years, the most recognizable and often used is the current format of multiple categories anyone can enter and win individually. But what is unusual is that the Pent also has an overall competition among those who have chosen to enter a minimum of five different categories. And true to its name – a pentathlon is a sport that includes five different athletics events – entering the arts & sciences Pent can be quite the endeavor!
A wealth of judges and Her Majesty Margerite Eisenwald admiring a Scribal entry, at the 2017 Ice Dragon Pent.
The challenge here is more one of creative time management than of pure skill. Most artisans can’t plan a whole year, or more, to work on five separate high-level entries. What makes the Pent fun is to find those one, two or three entries that are complex enough on their own that their research and creation can be spread around several categories. The real challenge is to figure out how! Researched a unique beverage? Enter a Research Paper as well as a drinkable brew. Created a garment from scratch? Enter your garment in Fabric Construction, but enter the process of making the yarn, with nicely presented samples, in Fiber Arts. If you are especially nifty, you could even take a swing at an Applied Research Paper by documenting the dye used to color the yarn!
The pinch is that only entries from completely separate categories count towards the Pent (see the website for a list of the official categories). Anyone can enter up to five entries in any category, but only your highest scoring entry in that category will score towards your overall Pent score. Thankfully, entrants are allowed to cross enter one entry into one additional category, phew! Made a bag with wood handles? Enter the bag as a whole in Fabric Construction (formerly Accessories) and cross-enter the handles in Woodworking – voila, two entries!
Applied Research “Vinegaroon” entry by Lord Snorri skyti Bjarnarson at the 2018 Ice Dragon Pent
A category close to my heart, and quite useful in teasing out five separate Pent categories I find, is Applied Research. Extremely well researched items too simple or modest to compete fairly in a more traditional category fall under this. A fun category – experimental archaeology on a small scale – it is also one that does not seem to be utilized very often and why I wanted to spotlight it here. Some of the examples that come to mind are my entry of six simple soap ball recipes, accompanied by a veritable compendium of medieval soap research and recipes, as well as the unique Vinegaroon experiment, accompanied by ‘please try it!’ samples for the judges and general populace.
Be aware that due to the anticipated length of research papers (nothing to do with the soap compendium, I am sure), the paper/research portion of the Applied Research entry must be submitted in advance (received electronically or postmarked by February 15, 2022).
From a small local arts & sciences competition, the Pent outgrew its locale quickly to become a competition with Kingdom impact. Although, initially, not the kingdom you might think. Back then, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, our Sylvan Kingdom was only in the early planning stages and Ice Dragon was the premiere A&S event of the East Kingdom. It drew people from up and down the East Coast and could get in excess of 200 entries (so many judges…)!
Some of the more memorable entries, according to Pent autocrat Cori: the tiny dead people by (now Mistress) Luceta and the real poison (by THL Rue). And then there was the time John the Artificer entered his ferrets (I wonder if the populace could pet them?) and the agricultural entry that was a miniature of a rabbit warren (did the ferrets have anything to do with that?!). And then there was (now Mistress) Alizaunde de Bregeuf from the East who entered her upper torso covered with real woad… probably did not have trouble finding judges for that one. And what do you think (now Master) Clewin and (now Mistress) Fredeburg entered, “made with all authentic materials and processes”? They entered their newborn baby! With documentation. I can not confirm first hand how detailed, though, that you’d have to ask them.
Table of beautiful Fabric Construction entries at the 2019 Ice Dragon Pent.
Ice Dragon Pentathlon is for young (very young…) and old, for the beginner and the accomplished; even for the competing as well as the artisan more interested in display. The Pent organizers always arrange for a dedicated Display area. They also gladly make room for the infamous Misfit Table, brain child of Master Thorpe, for those projects that didn’t quite do what they were supposed to do. Now, if only we could enter a Misfit Experiment as a 5th Pent project… wouldn’t that make for an intriguing entry!
Are you thinking of entering the Passing of the Ice Dragon Arts & Sciences Pentathlon? And perhaps in any of the following categories: Beverages, Culinary Arts, Curiosa or Performance Arts? Then you should be aware that these entries are handled a wee bit different as before the Plague, and now have their own deadline, too!
Beverages category: German Roggenbier or rye beer, entered in the Passing of the Ice Dragon, AS 51
As the Beverages, Culinary Arts and Curiosa categories have special preparation needs, especially this year, entrants are required to contact the Pent Coordinator before registering to make sure their entry can be processed. The Pent Coordinator is preparing a ‘double’ event – so to speak – to be prepared for the preferred in-person even but also to have a virtual option as a back up.
Assuming the event is in person, then judging will be on site. You would come in, register, and drop off / set up entries – business as usual. Similarly, Performance entries will be scheduled for the theater and times will be assigned when you sign in.
But, if we are not in person, then the Pent Coordinator will make every attempt to make connections between entrants and judges / judge groups to get materials from the entrants to the judges. This system worked adequately well last year, both at the Pent as well as with Kingdom Champs – but this will only work well with enough warning to make arrangements. For the Performing Arts, we’ll set up zoom performance venues (which seems so easy now, right?).
A double Culinary Arts entry: leavening or yeast cakes, and the Pompeii bread made with them, by Cristina inghean Ghriogair at the Passing of the Ice Dragon Pent AS52
We are all looking forward in anticipation to seeing what the artisans of our Sylvan Kingdom will share with us at this second year of the Plague Pent! I’ve already heard rumors of full pent entries in development… and will cross my fingers for an in-person event as I really want to peruse the tables and see the wondrous entries in 4K…uh, I meant, 3D – obviously!
As announced at ÆLive last Saturday, Their Sylvan Majesties King Maynard von dem Steine and Queen Liadain ni Dheirdre Chaohamnaigh are pleased to let it be known to all that They are looking forward to choosing Their Arts & Sciences Champions at the Virtual Kingdom Arts & Sciences Championship to be concluded on Saturday December 5th.
We are still ironing out some details, but we wanted to announce the Tourney and its concept now so that you can get your act and entry together in time. While some things may still change a bit, the event will be organized as follows. The Kingdom A&S Championship will be held entirely virtual, much along the lines of the Virtual Queen’s Prize Tourney that we ran in the Spring. We will create an online entry form, where you will upload some basic information, your documentation and a few photographs.
This being Kingdom Championship, we require written documentation, however don’t let that deter you from entering. The judging itself will be face to face over zoom during private sessions between each entrant and their judges. Judging will be as close as possible to the normal judging at the traditional A&S Championships: two sessions with two judges of about 30-45 minutes for each entrant.
Judging will be performed with the help of a rubric that will be shared with entrants and judges ahead of time. The scores will be tallied once all judging is completed and relayed to Their Majesties who will choose Their Champions. Right now, we are planning to spread out the judging during the week prior to December 5th so that we can coordinate suitable time slots for the entrants and judges with a limited number of zoom rooms. We plan to have part of the presentations public, so that the populous can also chat with the entrants and admire their entries over zoom. In addition, we will share all entries publicly on the Kingdom Office of Arts and Sciences website and create a public forum to leave comments, just as we did for the Virtual Queen’s Prize Tourney. Unfortunately, at this point, again due to the nature of virtual judging, and the practicality and legality of shipping foodstuffs and alcohol, anything that needs to be sniffed, tasted, or quaffed for proper judging is unfortunately not eligible. Don’t get us wrong – we really would not mind having consumables shipped to us in this time of need! But we don’t want you to break the law either. That being said, we totally encourage and accept research-paper entries in these areas. However, if we do still come up with a way to make it work, you will be the first to know.
We want to emphasize that we totally love to see partial projects! It doesn’t have to be a completely finished entry to be eligible. As usual, you may also enter up to three related objects as a single entry. Prior entry in another competition or display does not disqualify you from entering, we love to see continued progress on existing projects. Finally, given the virtual nature of the competition, we encourage everyone to go overboard with progress and final pictures or get creative with a short video. Show us your project from every angle as if we have it in our hands!
Their Sylvan Majesties and the Kingdom Office of Arts & Sciences are very much looking forward to seeing what our Kingdom has to offer! Keep an eye out on this channel for further information!
Yours in service, Hrólfr and Elska á Fjárfelli (KMoAS) Robert of Ferness (A&S Webminister)
By Elska á Fjárfelli of the Dominion of Myrkfaelinn
Contrary to popular believe, it was not beer that was the most common drink of the middle ages: it was plain and simple water. Dependable sources of clean, fresh water – whether it be a running creek, a spring, or a well – would be incorporated into villages and towns as easy access to fresh water makes life better in so many ways. By the 13th century, when urbanization was invented and towns started to expand into cities, early industrialization began to endanger the local fresh water supply. Medieval cities dealt with this in several ways: ordinances dictated where, for instance, tanners and dyers could operate, i.e. down stream, reserving the fresh upstream water for the city’s domestic use. And fines would be issued for contaminating water meant for household, and brewing, consumption.
Water for brewing would be gathered from surface water like spring or creek water, rainwater, well water and by the Renaissance even from conduit water, as mentioned in A Profitable Instruction (1579): “wash [the honey comb] diligently with Conduit or fair Spring water, that you may so have the Mulse or hony water.” Monasteries and towns often had their own well water, and sometimes city neighbors chipped in to finance a private well in their district. Of course, such a well would be forbidden for use by outsiders upon penalty of a fine. Larger cities would build water-supply infrastructure to ensure the populace access to clean water. For instance, the city council of London began construction on the ‘Great Conduit’ in 1236 which brought water from a large fresh spring at Tyburn to the cisterns in Cheapside, and from there fed local cisterns all over London. Small barrels of water would be offered for sale, and while the medieval populace was aware that boiling water before use was a good idea – food poisoning has a quick learning curve – they were less aware of the connection between spoiled water and waterborne diseases.
In 15th century Netherlands, many brewing procedures were also subjected to ordinances, including the ingredients used for brewing beer, the proportions of said ingredients, transport within and without the city, payments of taxation – and keeping the water in the city canals clean. A brewers’ ordinance from 1407, for instance, contains a warning for Zeeland skippers not to dump salt water (either from leakage, or used as ballast) in the canals within city limits. Dutch city brewers often found surface water not suitable for brewing, either from pollution from surrounding craftsmen, especially the textile industry – and from the creeping in of salt from North Sea ocean water into the fresh ground-water supply. Brewers would use water barges to gather clean fresh water, either from local lakes or from the coastal dunes (dune sand acts as a filter). The water barges would deliver straight to the brewery via the city canals, and the clean fresh water would be scooped out of the hold onto a wood gutter designed to transport the water from the quay straight into the brewery building.
An interesting story, uncovered in the city archives of Dordrecht, the Netherlands, follows an allegation of selling undrinkable beer by Brewery De Sleutel (The Key) – a medieval brewery actively producing beer up until the corporation Heineken bought it out and stopped production in 1968.
On August 14th 1577, the head brewer Baernt Lambertsz. and his apprentice Aernt Aerntsz. were called up to the Dordrecht city court to make a statement under oath they used the grain, hops, and malt for the brew of August 1st from the same storage successful brews had been made before. Another apprentice Jan Adriaensz. van der Dussen witnessed that he gathered all the water for the brew from the well himself, as was his custom. The brewers did note that the brew on the coolships had a peculiar scent that they had never smelled before either in the brewery or anywhere they had brewed before. The city officials took the case serious and four days later, on August 18th, other witnesses were heard. The tapper Jan Jansz. remembered his conversation with carpenter Adriaen Lauwen about the quality of the surface water in the Nieuwe Haven, for which Lauwen blamed the dyer. Four beer carriers (beer transport has its own guild) witnessed they had had to return Sleutel beer from several taverns due to being undrinkable. At the request of the innkeeper they tasted the beer and remarked they’d never tasted something so peculiar. Then other beer carriers also tasted the peculiar beer and agreed that they understood why the tappers of the taverns had returned the beer, as no customer would drink of it.
Unfortunately no more information exists on this case; no witness accounts of the accused dyer nor of penalties. The account illustrates industrial pollution is nothing new and protecting our waterways is an age-old practice.
In the middle Ages, alcoholic drinks were not consumed because water was thought to be unsafe, as is often thought now; beer was consumed because it was seen as more nutritious. Not only were the brews often much weaker than their modern equivalents, but they also provided much needed calories to manual laborers, as well as being thirst-quenching and rehydrating in hot and sweaty weather. Ale and beer were a major part in keeping the laborers going, much like our modern Gatorade! Drinking water was seen as part of the four humors, blood, yellow bile, black bile and phlegm, and keeping those in balance achieved good health. [image four humors] Drinking too much water was seen as just as unhealthy as drinking to much of its counter part, a brewed beverage, and a brew often was diluted with water to keep the humors in balance, and to avoid unseemly intoxication. As beer and wine was more expensive, its consumption therefore gave status. If you could afford it, you drank beer.
The Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands – the Barony of bridges… We have so many bridges in our great lands that connect our populace. We have many little villages with vast cultural diversity. There is another saying in our lands. Some people have never ever left their village because they will not cross a bridge. This was NOT the case when it came to a recent demonstration at the Carnegie Science Center for a Science After Dark Over 21 Event.
The Carnegie Science Center of Pittsburgh, PA (photo courtesy of the Center’s Press Photos)
One of our residents reached out to our Chatelaine with the option to be involved in an evening demo that wanted to showcase what Pittsburgh had to offer in regards to all things medieval. There was a small little catch to this offer – it was only 20 days away! That is really not a lot of days to figure out the details for an event and a venue that you have not been in before. I accepted the challenge when asked to organize the demo. I figured – alright – I can get enough people and display items to man a table at this event. I should be able to do this no problem.
First step: Meet with the main coordinator for the details. He is with the local HEMA branch and found out that he was trying to pull everyone in that he could – he wanted armored combat, role playing, Ren Faire, SCA, and anyone else that we could think of to fill the Science Center. I only had one question at the end of the meeting – How much can I bring? His answer – Bring it all! And we did!
The Display even included a ballista! (Photo courtesy of Baron Friderich Swartzwalder)
Step Two: Put the call out for volunteers. Talk it up at the event we had that weekend. Spread the word! At that event I had both merchants commit to the demo! I had several people say, “put me on the list.” I made a Facebook event and started using the Barony’s social media outlets. I went to the Barony’s business meeting to make sure everyone was aware of the demo.
Step three: Be humbled by the overwhelming out-pouring of interest. One post – one email – one message – over and over people wanted to be there and bring “all of the things.” People that I did not know – people that did not know me – offered to work together. Not only was this within our Barony, it was with neighboring lands – up to four hours away! There were a total of 111 people representing the SCA at this event! Working with other local interest groups was amazing. Although we had similar interests and cross over with our members, working together for events was not that common. We worked on building those bridges. We want to keep the bridges strong.
The bonds were growing – but there were many logistical questions to be answered. Who was going to be doing what? Where would be the best places for everyone to be at the Science Center? Did everyone have what they were going to need? We shared resources – we shared ideas – we worked together even up to the last few hours figuring out where a new interest group could fit in. There was no competition for space or times. We made it work. I personally had not worked with the Science Center before. A few of the other interest groups had – and they took us right into the fold. We were just all one giant family working together to put on a great event.
The day of the event was glorious! Every person from every group united to engage the 1500 people in attendance – more than the venue had ever provided before. We hung banners – we shared radios – we shared dollies and helped everyone that needed help. The attendees were provided with so many options, confronted with choices such as, “Do I fight or do I talk about swords? Do I talk about A&S classes or thrown weapons?” I saw people moving from area to area talking to guests. There may have been 12 different groups at the event – but we melded into one. We shared our passion and our talents to guests that now have been given the tools to build the bridge from their village to ours.
As Banners of Scarlet rang out from all four floors at the end of the evening, I couldn’t have been more proud of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands, of Æthelmearc, and of the SCA. We crossed and built new bridges – we strengthened new and old bonds – we united as one voice. We are Æthelmearc!
Article written and submitted to the Gazette by Lady Zianna.
(The Photographs used in the slideshow were taken by Baron Friderich Swartzwalder, Luceta di Cosimo and Lady Isabel Johnston.)