PORT GAMBLE — Members of the Kingdom of An Tir converged upon the hills of the former mill town, changing it from a quiet community to an elegant and chivalrous step back in time last weekend.
The alteration was embraced with open arms.
The Society for Creative Anachronism’s Kingdom of An Tir, a region consisting of Washington, Idaho, Oregon, British Columbia and Alberta, Canada, was in full force as the 21st Medieval Faire got underway in Port Gamble.
Members of the public or “Mundanians,” as they are referred to by the SCA, were invited to dress, eat, fight and learn about a period of time that upheld a code of behavior respect and honor. The greetings, “milady,” “milord,” or “my good merchant,” were frequent.
A harp player on the hillside near the faire entrance greeted festival-goers and SCA members as those dressed for the times, past or present, entered the medieval environment.
Even those who were not SCA members could dress up to be a part of the time period by borrowing clothes from The Gold Key, which allowed women to sport dresses with sweeping fabrics and men to don boots, tights and doublets.
Erika Laine of Issaquah brought her friend Kti Goodspeed to the faire — both were making an attempt to dress for the occasion. Laine, who’s associated with the society through her mother, was helping fix up Goodspeed with the appropriate attire.
“It’s just a lot of fun to dress up. It’s fun to see everybody and participate,” Laine said as she tightened a leather belt around the waist of a pink paisley dress that Goodspeed borrowed from the Gold Key booth. “It’s fun to watch the battles. It’s fun to walk around in garb.”
Over in the youth combative eric, or fighting ring, youngsters tried their hand at the art of honorable fighting.
“If you get hit in the arm, you lose your arm. If you get hit in the knee, you lose your knee,” referee Dana Sheppard explained to the three Hampton brothers of Silverdale who were about ready to take each other on.
“Lay on!” she cried out as the three small boys started to lightly strike each other with the PVC pipes padded with foam. Seven-year-old Mattie struck his brother, Caleb, 5, on the arm, knocking him “dead.” But little Wyatt, 4, gave Mattie a jab in the chest and he fell over in a dramatic sweep. Wyatt celebrated the victory.
In the merchants area, clothing, henna art and jewelry were abundant as members and non-members got into the atmosphere through the regalia.
Misty Newman of Seattle was trying on a purple and gold dress at Eden Black’s venue of SDL Designs.
“I’m trying to figure out what styles and sizes would work,” Newman said before buying anything. Newman pointed out that the Port Gamble faire was just the beginning of a summer of SCA events for her.
Black was sharing a booth with The Stag and The Griffin owner Rita Townley, who designs menswear. Both women design and make clothes representing medieval and renaissance time periods and explained how men were better dressed then than any other fashion period in time.
A guy who comes into the booth dressed in a T-shirt, jeans and long hair pulled back can be magically transformed, Townley said.
“Put him in a doublet, tights and long hair and woman just follow them,” Townley added as all the ladies around her giggled in agreement.
Townley also explained how the fashion of the time, which had lines that accentuate the waist, extra ruffles on the shoulders and silk shirts, all created an optical illusion that gives the male body a more regal state.
“This is one of the few venues that we encourage men to wear tights,” she remarked.
Matt Henson, His Lordship Mateusz z Plocka, was demonstrating woodworking and bowyering in the arts and sciences area. Throughout the day, he was often busy talking to society members and non-members about his work, explaining how his tools weren’t much different from tools from the 1500s.
“There are no cell phones here — it’s a little more relaxed,” Henson said of why he likes attending such gatherings. “And learning about crafts and skills that aren’t taught in our education system. I love to talk about what I know and share the knowledge.”
But his favorite part of SCA
events is when he can actually feel the essence of the MiddleAges that is recreated.
“Early in the morning on the second day,” Henson explained. “Because as you see the tents down here and fluttering banners and cook smells rising up from various areas and you think you’ve stepped back in time.”