Knights in the Park: SCA Brings Medieval Fun to Portland

Photos Courtesy of Jesse Bifulco

The Harvest Moon Shoot kicked off on Saturday, September 19, at Hebron Pines Golf Course in Hebron, Maine, with a bright bevy of colorful flags and costumes. The Society for Creative Anachronisms hosted this medieval-themed day of activities and competitions in Hebron for the public. Admission was free, and volunteers at the gate offered historically-accurate clothes to borrow for the day. Among the events offered were fencing, archery, ax and knife throwing, and weaving. 

The Society for Creative Anachronism is an organization of hobbyists who study history and strive to keep old traditions alive in today’s forgetful world. It’s a large operation with over 30,000 members and is classified as a 501(c)3 nonprofit educational organization. The SCA operates all over North America, as well as in several other countries.

I spoke to Matt Wickenheiser, the Local Chapter President. “We put on our medieval garb, our medieval gear, and we try to recreate a slice of life in the middle ages,” he told me in a showcase of the community. I asked him how participation was changing ever since the pandemic, which caused many shifts in hobbies and lifestyles. His answer was optimistic.

“There’s definitely been more interest. I think people are taking interest in things that they can learn and do on their own or with some help. I think maybe people have slowed things down a little bit, and are maybe trying to unplug, and this is a great activity for that.”

One thing I noticed from my time at the Harvest Moon was how enthusiastic everyone was. Every event had eager participation from the crowd. With the number of ways available to participate, there’s a lot to learn and a lot to do. Even just for a curious spectator, there’s enough entertainment to fill up a good evening. The main events were tournaments in fencing, ax throwing, and archery. Some brought their own handmade gear while others used SCA equipment.

“There’s multiple hobbies you can pick up within the SCA… it’s a great community for people who just have an enthusiasm for learning new stuff.” Matt said. “There’s so many different rabbit holes you can go down, and there are so many people who are very happy to show you the way and share their explanations with you,” He elaborated on the variety of subjects available.

The folks practicing heavy combat– a percussive sport that uses fully protective armor– let me take a few swings at them to prove the strength of their armor and shields. Try as I might, I couldn’t get any of them to budge. They practice every Tuesday night, along with the fencers, at the Sullivan Recreation and Fitness Complex at the University of Southern Maine. Practice is welcome to newcomers. The sword fighters offer loaner gear for beginners, and the club is completely free, except for the $7 admission that USM charges.

The SCA hosts events all throughout the year. Upcoming events are posted to their website. Their next big tournament, the Crown Tourney, will be held in the Portland Sports Complex and will invite the best sword fighters in the region to participate in a grand show.

Questions and inquiries can be sent to info@malagentia.eastkingdom.org.

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