Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Event Report: Scotchtoberfest (2001)

Wolfgang of Ardchreag

Turnout for Scotchtoberfest this year was quite impressive.  Ardchreag was strongly represented by about 20 good ladies and gents.  Everyone was decked out and garbed to the nines, with more winter clothing in evidence than at Crown.  Which was understandable, given the weather.  Even our youngest neophyte, Joshua, had special garb made for him.  He may be slightly more than a month old, but already he has the makings of a fine herald.  Or, at the very least, the lung capacity for it.
            Divided into two main chambers, one of which I understand is able to become a patio by rolling up a few of the walls, Ardchreag occupied two long tables quickly, near the merchant area.  The heavy fighting and fencing occupied a good portion of the other half.  Since there was not a Crown available to be won that day, the heavy fighting was not nearly as intense to watch as at Crown Tourney.  And a lot less frightening to consider myself a part of.
            This was the first time I was able to see SCA fencing, and I am very glad now I chose not to pursue that form of combat.  It looks much too glamorous, with more finesse required.  Definitely not a slugfest.  There is something reassuring about the solidity of a shield and rattan sword, however, and the instant gratification granted a fighter by feeling a good hit is much more appealing to yours truly.  The battling continued all day, underlining the other happenings with the thwacks of sword on shield or armor, and that unique smell that can only be found at an SCA tournament that is indoors.
            Not all the fighting occurred on the field, however.  There were games aplenty, and more than enough people willing to partake.  Tablut boards, nine by nine and larger, chessboards, backgammon, and even a few hands of cards. 
            Ardchreag was blessed with a lunch that dwarfed most Feasts.  The table groaned under stew, loaves of bread, apples, pears, cheese, hot and cold apple cider, roast beef, pumpkin pie, and dessert squares.  No-one left the table hungry, and the happily impressed noises I heard between the multitude of gulps and chomps confirmed that lunch was a success.  Thanks to Michaela, Janice, Jen, and Randy for providing.
            Unfortunately, after lunch we heard the terrible news that Mahault and Berend were both simultaneously struck with a plague-like illness at work that only a long drive into the wilderness around Kitchener while dressed in period garb would cure.  Apparently the diagnosis was correct, for I could see no sign of their symptoms as they joined in the festivities.
            The beginners tablut tournament that occupied the afternoon was a dramatic display of military and strategic intellect, honed to razor sharpness by the desire to win.  Once the dust had settled, two mighty gladiators remained, poised opposite each other.  Back and forth they fought, each move carefully calculated well in advance, each piece won an uphill battle.  Eventually, however, as in all competitions, a winner must prevail.  It was no different this day.  Reluctantly, the second-place player was forced to admit defeat at the hands of a noble gamesmith by the name of Andri.  Though there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth at the loss, the second-place player rose above his mournful supporters, and extended his hand, a noble warrior even in defeat.
            At 5 of the clock, the order was given to clear out.  Ardchreag had agreed not to stay for the feast that was provided, especially since most of our bellies had already been stretched by such a massive lunch, and so we retired to the fighting area to wait.  An impromptu dance session broke out, located in the space that had been occupied by the heavy fighting not moments earlier.  There was something entirely mesmerizing about watching a circle of women, and one unlucky man who only put up token resistance, of course, sway to the beat of drumming and voice lifted in song.  They certainly deserved the applause they received.
            A local tavern keeper, Sir John of the Donkey, had agreed, perhaps somewhat foolishly, to offer us a place at his tables.  The journey to his humble tavern was fraught with adventure.  Firstly, our elected caravan leaders, Colyne and Thorfinna, demonstrated for the benefit of our newest members why Ardchreag’s motto is “Don’t follow me, I’m lost too.”  Fortunately, the rest of us had our maps, and after regrouping in a random parking lot, our destination was reached.
            Mid-journey, Ardchreag’s handmade banner had decided it did not like to travel on top of Thorfinna’s wagon.  It chose to take it’s chances  in the ditch by the side of the road, perhaps in search of glory so it could impress some of the other banners that had been secretly calling it names.  It’s plans were dashed, however, when Thorfinna and Stephen “Toddsbro” Scrymgeour returned and stole it away before it could get its bearings and disappear into the woods.
            Dinner with a post-event Ardchreag is an experience best learned about first hand.  A rowdy bunch even when subdued, we certainly competed with the music for who was louder.  But then the music did not have bits of food to throw, methods of giving the finger to debate, and a certain newly-elected event reporter with limited facial expressions to mock.

            As the evening wore to a close and we all retired at the wee small hours of 9:30, I thought back over the events of the day.  Above and beyond their passion for all things medieval, the SCA really is a social group, and at its heart is friend spending time with friend.  This was well-represented at Scotchtoberfest.

No comments:

Post a Comment