LUMBERTON, MS (WDAM) - Underneath the pine trees outside Lumberton, hundreds of armor-clad men and women ran at full speed and clashed their swords and spears and shields into one another for several hours on Friday.
The contained chaos of this medieval battle was just one part of the final day of Gulf Wars XXIII where around 3,000 people took part in a week of historical reenactments in the forests of King's Arrow Ranch in the Hillsdale community.
Also known as a "War With No Enemies," the festival is one of five "major wars" organized by The Society for Creative Anachronism, an organization with approximately 30,000 members who stage similar events around the country in which people not only relive ancient combat, but also take part in other reenactments including blacksmithing, weaving, carpentry, cooking, calligraphy, brewing, and more.
For between $60 and $70 a day, members can set up a tent or other dwelling on the grounds and become immersed in daily activities ranging from equestrian events to dancing and archery. Non-members can still participate, but it costs an additional fee, and everyone who attends is expected to wear period-accurate attire. You won't get inside wearing modern clothes or costumes based on movies or other fiction.
Members are quick to point out that SCA events are not Renaissance festivals. You won't see anything mythological or fantastical at gatherings. Vendors don't sell trinkets or baubles but simple food and other necessities. The emphasis is on historical accuracy and education about the time period. As the SCA website explains, "we selectively recreate the culture, choosing elements of the culture that interest and attract us." So, if you go, expect to see blacksmiths creating armor, weavers creating clothes, and carpenters turning wood into longhouses as cooks in historically accurate garb use historically accurate outdoor kitchens to prepare historically accurate foods.
For most people though, the attraction is getting to know the many people who return year-after-year. Suzanne Sherman of Kansas, who calls herself Mistress Bridgett while on the campgrounds, said she's been attending SCA events for 30 years. She was introduced to the SCA when members held a demonstration at her high school. Since then, she says she was hooked. Her daughter, Cassie, known as Lady Izza, who is now 24, has grown up within the culture. Cassie said there was a thriving nightlife and social scene in addition to the other activities, and she plans to keep coming back to Lumberton and the other locations around the country where the society gathers.
Lisa and Brian Blair, both of Mobile, have been coming to Lumberton for 12 years now. On Friday, they were cooking leeks and potatoes within the massive tent city. Bryan calls himself Lord Oinogus McMaccineod, and Lisa calls herself Gwenhwyvar - but that's where the resemblance to cosplay or Renaissance Festival tomfoolery ends. Their main focus at Gulf Wars was to construct a historically accurate outdoor kitchen and prepare food for others. Their choice? Roman-era foods. They've won laurels, awards handed out at SCA events, for their efforts.
If this interests you, you can start preparing for next year. Gulf Wars 2014 will take place during spring break.
You can learn more at these websites. SCA: http://www.sca.org