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Pen-1st-Time-art - 11/2/15


"Pennsic for First Timers" by The Honorable Christophe of Grey.


NOTE: See also the files: BPThingie-art, Eatng-Pennsic-art, Fire-Book-art, New-2-Pennsic-msg, P-history-msg, P-Sanitation-art, Pennsic-101-art, Pennsic-Prep-art, What-s-Pensic-art, Pennsic-water-msg.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



You can find more of this author's work on his website at:



Pennsic for First Timers

by The Honorable Christophe of Grey


Pennsic War is the largest SCA event and is held in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania during the last week of July through the first week of August.  The event has drawn up to 15,000 people in past years.  This article is for people who are attending Pennsic for the first time.




     First most important point, - GUARD YOUR MEDALLION!  You may want to make a sturdier rope/chain to hang it from.  You will be checked every time you leave site, cross the road between the store/barn and battlefield, when you return from off site, everywhere.  No medallion, no entry.

     Some folks like to bring crayons to color their medallions with.




     Don't try to do it all in the first few days.  Pennsic is two weeks long and there is plenty of time.

     Check the sandwich boards and herald's point daily for schedule changes.

     Running to the store (off site) is a 30 – 60 minute trip so plan accordingly.

     Pennsylvania is a package store for alcohol. 

     Make at least one trip up the hill behind the fort.  Great view of Pennsic!

     They sell Hershey's hand dipped ice cream and chocolate milk in the store.  Pace yourself!

     The food you can buy is generally pretty good and a good variety, but it is expensive.

     Get around to as much as you can.

     During the second week when the busses/shuttles are running ride around on one down by the lake.  Lots of really cool encampments there.  Bring your camera.

     For the brave at heart and those not modest, there is a period swimming hole (clothing optional) down past the lake.

     Coming into the Pennsic site you will cross a one-lane bridge.  Cross carefully!

     It is very likely that when you come in you will have to stage before going through troll.  Have something to do while waiting.

     When you go through troll you will need ID, i.e. driver's license and your vehicle plate number.  If you have money due, you must pay here.

     As an Ansteorran King once said at Gulf Wars closing ceremonies, "If you have not made at least one new friend this whole war, you have totally missed its point!"

     You'll be walking a lot.  If you don't walk a lot now, start.  That way you won't spend the entire 2 weeks tired with sore feet.

     Ask for directions when you get lost.

     Assume you will get lost.

     Have fun getting lost.

     Have fun.

     A 5 minute run to the camp store takes at least 3 hours.  Between the friends you run into, the "OHHHHH!!!  Pretty, I'll just be a sec", and "OMG!!!  I've never seen THAT before!" it will take longer.  Add more time if you go in a group.

     Ice is available at the store and from urchins touring the camps.  Pay ahead.

     The Pennsic Independent is the Pennsic newspaper and has all the goings on and news.  Worth the price.

     You can buy a picture of the whole layout at the Pennsic post office near the store.

     The camp store has been recently in last few years, remodeled, expanded and updated.  You can buy fresh veggies and all sorts of goodies.

     You can send letters and post cards from the Pennsic post office and get the Pennsic postal cancellation on it.

     Pennsic is so large and Pennsylvania law mandates that Pennsic have it's own post office and emergency services.

     Classes are listed on-line weeks before the war.  Scan for interest but know they may change come war.

     Look for the notice boards and listen to the heralds for events.

     If you like pageantry, opening ceremonies are fun to watch.

     The Tea Room near the barn is a nice place to relax in the evening.  Service isn't real fast and the prices are moderate.  But a nice relaxing, gathering place.




     First and foremost, good shoes.  You WILL be walking a lot!

     Pennsic has a dress code called Pennsic Casual.  Modern GOOD shoes count as Pennsic Casual.

     It's Pennsic.  You will see things you may think, and possibly are not, legal in the mundane world.  But it's Pennsic.  For the best view visit Pennsic TV.  That would be the grassy area along the walk between the store side and the food court side.  30 minutes here provides a lifetime of "views".

     Have a water bottle carrier of some sort.  Pennsylvania is hot during the summer and you need to drink lots of water.

     Consider rubber footwear for the rainy days.  It can become near bottomless muck.

     Bring lots of clothes.  Plan on getting no more than two days wear out of an outfit.  You may be able to get more, but plan for it.

     If you want to attend classes, you have to sign up for most the day before.

     Bring a camera.

     Carry a small flashlight if you go down around the lake at night.  Some areas down there can be very dark and confusing.

     If you go down the main road past the merchants at the top of Runestone Hill, behind the barn, and stay left you come to a T at the bottom.  Going right is the quiet side of the lake (takes you past Trimaris Royal).  Going left takes you around to the noisy side of the lake – party central!

     Bring your own toilet paper.  Not all the porta castles stay stocked.

     Use the hand sanitizer or bring your own.  Sick at Pennsic is not fun!

     Get on a food plan with the group you re camping with.

     Never leave camp without food and water.  You need the water, and you're always hungry at war because you're walking everywhere.

     Tennis shoes are period at Pennsic!

     Bring shoes that don't lace that you can slip into at night for your porta castle run.  Nothing is worse than trying to get out of bed, needing to go NOW and trying to find your shoes!

     Take care of your feet.

     Beer is not water, nor is alcohol but it sure is good.

     Wear a hat.

     Every year I buy myself a large plastic dish pan (one of the squarish plastic ones).  This isn't for dishes – it's for my feet!  Fill with water when you drain your cooler, add a little mint foot soak (optional) and you will be the most popular person in your camp!  It's a slice of heaven and good for your feet.

     Bring sunscreen if you typically use sunscreen.

     Beware the plague.  Good hygiene makes a happy war!

     Washing machines are available in the dance barn/new store.




     Guard your money in a hiding place.  Don't carry all your money with you all the time.

     Lots of money.  The vendors here are more than you have ever seen and they ALL have goodies you want.

     There is an ATM at the camp store.  It typically gets swamped in the second week.

     Have a bag to carry stuff in, i.e. while shopping, going to and fro.

     Midnight madness is during the second week.  Some prices are great, some not so.  Shop carefully.




     Know who your landocrat is and work with them.

     Tie your tent down securely.  Pennsic can be windy.  If you are camping on the Serengeti the winds can be fierce.  Tie your tent down in expectation.

     Be very careful of flames in tents, i.e. candles.  This is a tent/canvas village.  One tent on fire could wipe out the entire site!

     It is generally a good idea to have an over tunic for running to the porta castle during the wee hours of the night or coming and going to the showers.

     A solution to the late night porta castle need is a plastic bucket, i.e. Homer bucket with large plastic bags each with a one cup scoop of kitty liter in it, stacked in the bucket.  That is fill one bag, stretch it over the top of the bucket.  Put more bags in like manner.  Late night privy in your own tent.  In the morning discreetly discard the bags.

     Real showers can be had at the bath house by the store, half way down Runestone Hill and near the old Atlantian Royal lands.  Many camps will also setup their own showers.  My suggestion for showers is take yours at mid-day.  You will have hot water, not have to stand in line, and be out of the way of the heavies after their daily battle.

     Bring shower shoes if you use a common shower.

     Carry your own soap in a plastic soap box.  Carry your other shower goodies in a basket or bag.

     Rubbermaid trunks (or something like them) are your friend.  Put everything in there that you don't want to get damp.  Just in case.

     A river may run through your tent or where your tent is pitched may turn into a temporary swamp.




It will rain.  Not an option here.  Plan for it.

     The $1 ponchos while not, period, work well for staying dry if caught out.

     Be sure to watch some of the field battles.  At Pennsic you can get really close to the action, more so than at other wars or events.  It's exhilarating to be that close to a field with about 2000 people hacking and bashing each other while ballista bolts fly through the air and the combat archers snipe about!

     Typically every evening there is good entertainment in the entertainment tents near where the classes are held.  Well worth keeping tabs on who's playing and when.

     In recent years I have learned what great fun attending haflas is.  Very relaxing and just plain fun.  These are always held in private camps but the camp is open the night they do the hafla.

If you leave on the last weekend like most folks, realize there will be a long waiting line to get out of the site.  It's just part of the Pennsic experience.


Copyright 2014 by John Atkins. <cogworks at triad.rr.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited.  Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, please place a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
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Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org