What-s-Pensic-art - 11/13/11
"What is Pennsic?" by THLady Hrefna Ulfvarinnsdottir.
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.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
This article won the AEthelmearc Sylvan Quill for Best Article in the year 2009.
This article was first published in "The Apple Press", the newsletter for the Shire of Sylvan Glen, AEthelmearc.
What is Pennsic?
by: THLady Hrefna Ulfvarinnsdottir
The Great Pennsic War is an event held at Cooper’s Lake Campground in Slippery Rock, PA, but to call this grand spectacle “an event” is quite an understatement. Trying to explain Pennsic to someone who has never experienced it difficult because if you ask a hundred people what Pennsic is, you will likely get a hundred different answers. Explaining Pennsic to non-Scadians is even tougher.
Pennsic War is the single largest event in the Known World. It runs for two weeks in the summer and attracts on average 10,000 to 11,000 people. It is an annual Brigadoon with tents, a real community that takes over the campground and then disappears into the August sunshine. The Kingdom of Aethelmearc hosts this annual gathering of warriors who fight in the war between the mighty Kingdoms of the Midrealm (sometimes referred to as the Mid or Middle Kingdom) and the East. The motto of this event is “Annual enemies, eternal friends”. On the battlefield warriors fight to win, but once the battle is done, they are great friends. While war is the focus, there are plenty of peaceful and non-martial activities for those who do not wish to fight.
The first week of Pennsic, Peace Week, is quieter than the second week, which is often referred to as War Week. For that first week, the focus is on Land Grab, a system by which groups are assigned their camping spaces and the land grab agent (the person organizing your group’s camp) starts the process of setting up camp. This week offers the chance to catch up with old friends, shop the merchants early, and to take classes at Pennsic University. Attendance is lower for this first week as most people who can’t stay for two weeks, will opt to come for War Week when the fighting begins.
The opening ceremony for War Week is a sight unparalleled anywhere in the Known World. The Kingdom of Aethelmearc leads the pageant followed by the Kingdoms of the Midrealm and the East and then by each kingdom in turn. The banners, the spiffy clothes, the music and the singing are glorious to behold. Once Their Majesties of the Known World have settled onto the stage, Aethelmearc invites the Midrealm and the East to state their grievances and then each kingdom declares which side it will fight for. With their new allies firmly entrenched, Their Majesties of the Midrealm and the East break the War Arrow and hostilities commence.
Throughout War Week, a variety of battles and martial activities will be fought. The winners of these competitions are given points. Whoever has the most points at the end of the week is the winner. Activities will include heavy fighting, youth fighting, archery, fencing, and thrown weapons. Combat archery and siege weapons can also be found.
There is a bridge battle, a woods battle, and even a children’s battle where the young ones storm the castle to save Santa Claus. Yes, Pennsic has a castle, which is a permanent fixture at the campground.
For those who do not fight, Pennsic University will continue to offer classes during War Week. This fine institution of learning is staffed by volunteer teachers who want to share their knowledge and skills. Pennsic U. offers over 1,000 classes every year. Shopping will be in full swing for the second week and there is no better place to fill your Scadian shopping list. Midnight Madness takes place on Wednesday, offering extended shopping hours, great sales, and an abundance of street performers. The Performing Arts tent offers concerts, entertainers, dancers, and performers all through Pennsic. Coxcomb Academy gives its students the chance to learn and practice performing arts and then appear on stage as part of their variety show. There are hundreds of meetings, socials, gatherings, royal courts, baronial courts, and parties of all varieties throughout the two weeks. Volunteer opportunities abound as well, so pitch in somewhere for a couple of hours and help make Pennsic great.
Whew! There sure is a lot to keep up with at this event, but not to worry. The Pennsic Independent, the official Pennsic War newspaper will set up shop the second week to help you follow the War action and other breaking news. If you want to send a postcard home, stop by the Pennsic Post Office, which will open for War Week as well. They even have a special cancellation stamp designed just for this event each year. Wondering how you’ll get around in this place? Take the bus or the dragon wagon. Yes, Pennsic has its own public transportation system. Look for the bus stop signs throughout the campground. The dragon wagon departs from the battlefield. Weather is always something to keep an eye as it can change quickly. Temperatures during the day can approach 100 degrees or more then plummet at night. Staying hydrated and protecting yourself from the sun are priorities. Bring extra blankets for the cold nights and something to pass the time when stuck in your tent due to rain.
Be sure to keep track of the Pennsic site book you will be given at Troll. This book is filled with useful and necessary information such as camp rules, Pennsic University class schedules, battle schedules, and your map of the campground. For your first Pennsic, make an effort to go watch at least one battle, even if fighting isn’t your thing. Few other events offer you the chance to watch thousands of fighters take to the field. Opening and closing ceremonies are also well worth your time. Don’t be afraid to ask question, and don’t worry if you just can’t fit in everything you want to do. There’s only 50 weeks of vacation left before next year.
Copyright 2009 by Tammy Pritt. <ravenstyx at yahoo.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, I would appreciate 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.