he temperature Saturday approached 90 degrees, an unusually high temperature at Petrack Park, but sweaty knights clad in armor with heavy steel plates and leather still did battle on the grounds of Petrack Park.
They did take one little deviation from the medieval theme, drinking out of plastic water bottles to stay hydrated.
Last weekend, the park became part of the Barony of Starkhafn, part of the Kingdom of Caid, which encompasses Southern Nevada, Southern California and Hawaii as over 100 members of the Society of Creative Anachronisms held their 32nd annual encampment. The kingdom stretches from Fresno, Calif. south to the Mexican border and includes Las Vegas. Members last weekend arrived from as far away as Pennsylvania and Washington state.
The battles were fought with rattan instead of swords for safety, the person who suffers the blow can call the bout. In another roped-off area duels with rapier fencing weapons with covered tips were held. They began with the proclamation, “for the honor and glory of Starkhafn.” The participants are called by their medieval names, or if they don’t know their names, they’re referred to as m’lord or m’lady.
“It doesn’t require membership to participate in any of this stuff, it just requires membership to be an officer,” said Tom Kulkoski of Ridgecrest, Calif., who goes by the medieval name Thomas Blackkeep. “Because you develop a medieval persona you have a medieval name you pick. You register that with the organization.”
“We don’t do horses because of the laws in many states regarding cruelty to animals,” he said.
Though they do battle with rattan wood covered with duct tape they weigh the same as a medieval weapon and Kulkoski said “it’s full force blows. So it hurts if you get hit.”
Battles are fought for a specific honor of the day, such as who will be the next king or queen reigning for six months, the queen’s champion or baronial champion. A blow must be hard enough and placed properly to count as a fatal blow. Fighters are bound by honor to rate and count the blows, but marshals on the field regulate safety.
There are three peerages in the barony, Kulkoski said. Only the most experienced, armored combat fighters become knights, chosen by the crown, they must also be exemplary in chivalry, courtesy and honor, with a knowledge of dancing, gamesmanship and general medieval studies. Members who achieve a high standard in a particular art or craft are awarded the Order of the Laurel. Kulkoski said he belongs to the Order of the Pelican, awarded to individuals whose service to the society has been extensive and exemplary.
The Kingdom of Caid holds roughly 85 events per year. Kulkoski said 35 are kingdom events, where kingdom business is conducted, like last weekend. There is a king and queen.
Dave Parks, aka Michel Philippe de Sarcey, formerly lived in Pahrump, until he gave up the drive to work in Las Vegas after too many engine failures. Parks said he attends about 30 different events per year.
“I’ve done this for 47 years. When I was young, what attracted me about it was the fighting,” Parks said. “The more time I’m into it, the more I like the arts and crafts of the Middle Ages.”
He said it’s different figuring out how to make things yourself instead of going to Walmart. Members make their own clothes.
The Society for Creative Anachronism is a nonprofit, tax-exempt, educational organization dedicated to the research and re-creation of medieval and Renaissance culture, the arts, sciences, combat, speech, dress and courtly manners in all areas of everyday life, from noble to peasant. It requires historical research into clothing, weaponry, armor, food and music. Some have interests in calligraphy and manuscript illumination, others archery, jewelry making, poetry, cooking or brewing.
The SCA grew from a backyard tournament in 1966 to an international network of over 40,000 members organized into 19 kingdoms spanning North America, one kingdom in Europe and another kingdom in Australia and New Zealand. The group doesn’t reach out to publicize their annual gathering in Pahrump, which are not performances for the general public as they are in other parts of the country.
The organization does use the Internet. Information on the SCA is available at www.sca.org. Information on the Kingdom of Caid is available at www.sca-caid.org.