The Kitsap Medieval Faire and the people behind it are gearing up for the faire’s 35th year. Presented by the Kingdom of An Tir, part of the global nonprofit Society for Creative Anachronism, the faire will feature a living village of artists, scientists, craftsmen and warriors. It’s designed to educate and entice visitors to travel through time to learn about the historical wonders of everyday life, and the bloody work of war. This is the first in a series about the Kingdom of An Tir.
BREMERTON — The Kitsap Medieval Faire is not your traditional renaissance fair. It’s a historical and educational demonstration of arts, crafts, sciences and fighting from history, ranging from 600 B.C. to the 1600s A.D., put on by the local Society for Creative Anachronism Kingdom, An Tir.
“The medieval demo is … our annual demonstration to the public,” said Brandy Hutchinson, also known in the SCA as Andromacha of Lesbos. “It is going to feature all aspects of the SCA. It’s going to feature war fighting, there will probably be a little bit of tournament combat. There’ll also be arts and sciences. Basically, this is what we do, and please come join us. Please come join our hobby and have fun.”
This year’s Medieval Faire will be June 2-4 at 8707 SW Sentinel Peak Way, Bremerton. For more information about the faire or the group behind it, visit www.kitsapmedievalfaire.org and www.dragonslaire.org/events/junefaire.php.
“First and foremost, it’s a public demonstration,” said Amber Boutet, who works in public relations for the Kingdom of An Tir. “As a demonstration, we try to show everything that would appeal to the general public, to bring you kind of toward the SCA. So for example, we have a living village. A living village has artisans making textiles, making paper, there’s culinary artists there. We also have potters, everything. And they’re full of information and they’re there to show and demonstrate their arts and their crafts.”
And, of course, the fighting. This is the first year the Kitsap Medieval Faire will showcase war fighting skills. They will also have live-steel ballista demonstrations, which involves shooting live steel out of a siege weapon that looks sort of like a gigantic crossbow.
The SCA is a global nonprofit “dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe,” according to the website, www.sca.org.
“We study craft and we study skills and we make garb/clothing. We do all sorts of different things,” said David Clough, known in the SCA as Baron Conchobar Mac Eoin of An Tir.
When people join the SCA, they adopt a sort of persona — like Clough’s Mac Eoin — who would fit into whatever time period they want.
“We’ve got people who are B.C. Celts,” Clough said. “I go to about the fifth century, my persona is Roman. We’ve got Vikings and 14th century French nobility … all sorts of things.”
Clough said not everybody creates a persona easily or quickly. He joined the SCA in 1990, but only nailed down his persona in the last five or six years.
Together, they form a kingdom. They fight one on one, or melee battles, including war scenes that could have around 1,500 people on the field at a single time.
“We get to be somebody extraordinary,” said Boutet, who doesn’t currently have a “nailed down” persona, as “it’s starting anew,” Boutet said. “And being someone extraordinary is, when you’re having a day when you’re sitting in an office, then you get to go out and, well, battle, it’s kind of amazing. I think that’s the huge appeal about the SCA. That, and no matter where you go, there is somebody.”
Boutet said that because the SCA is global, “there isn’t anywhere that you can really go that you can’t find somebody.” When she moved to California, the first thing she did was look for a local chapter, and was immediately welcomed into that kingdom.
“You instantly have friends,” she said. “You instantly are a part of something. You say, ‘This is all the knowledge I have.’ ‘OK, this is all the knowledge I have.’ It’s just a huge exchange of minds.”
Boutet grew up surrounded by the SCA, and officially joined 20 years ago.
“One of the greatest things is, anybody can join,” she said. “Absolutely any age, from very young to obviously some of our more mature gentlemen. It’s really just having fun. It really is.
“So if you’re interested in something, obviously fighting is a huge appeal in this area. Archery. If you’re not one of the fighting sorts, we have every sort of arts and sciences you can think of. Everybody has a niche, everybody has a place, and having that place is really important.
“I think people easily fall into the romance and the fantasy … making something and creating and being somebody.”
Hutchinson said the appeal of SCA, beyond the fighting, which really drew her in, is the education.
“You start getting into some of the artistry, figuring out, ‘How would they have dome something back then? How can we make it work right now?’ ” Hutchinson said. “I think the love of history is the biggest draw for everybody, and being a part of this community.”
And you don’t have to be an expert before joining. You can learn everything — from how to make clothes, how to write your name in period-appropriate calligraphy, how to shoot a bow and arrow or fight with a rapier — after you join.
Clough said, “You can come into it completely uninformed about any of this, and you can learn and go whichever direction you want to go.”
But being a member isn’t necessary to participate.
“Being a member basically gives you a couple of things: it makes sure that your waiver is on file,” Clough said. “We do risky things like throwing weapons, archery, horseback riding … We do the combat, both rapier and heavy weapons.”
Members also pay a lower entry fee to the big SCA events.
(This is the first in a series about the Kingdom of An Tir. To learn more, visit www.antir.sca.org.)
Michelle Beahm is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.