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Medieval times relived at Renaissance Festival

June 11, 2006|by ALICIA NOTARIANNI

HAGERSTOWN

Chivalry is not dead. Well, at least not in the "knightly men-at-arms" sense.

In fact, dozens of trained men competed for martial valor Saturday at City Park using rattan swords and armor, while others wielded hatchets, spears and rapiers.

The men were among the more than 400 re-enactors who participated in the Western Maryland chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism's 17th annual Renaissance Festival on the grounds surrounding the Jonathan Hager House and Museum.

Heather White, president of the Western Maryland chapter, Barony of Highland Foorde, said participants wore outfits portraying people ranging from A.D. 500 to the early 1600s, and exhibited traditions in areas spanning fighting, arts and sciences, and cooking. The festival was open to the public.

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"We set out to educate ourselves, as well as others, regarding medieval pursuits," White said. "We have fun doing what we do, and we love sharing it with other people."

Onlookers meandered about the grounds, observing demonstrations of weaving, bead-making, metal sculpting, belly dancing, combat archery, fencing and more.

Lisa Connor of Frederick, Md., took her niece, Shannon Green, 2, and nephews, Chris and Hunter Island, 10 and 6, to the event. Besides watching demonstrations, Chris and Hunter Island, of Hagerstown, said they liked shopping at the merchants. Chris bought a resin dragon, while Hunter chose a toy viking costume, which he promptly put on.

Michael Baer, 16, his brother, Matt Baer, 17, and their friend, Andrew Smith, 17, all of Hagerstown, attended the event. Smith said his mother told him about the festival and predicted he would like it.

"We like the fighting," Michael Baer said.

After watching archery and hatchet-throwing demonstrations, the three headed off to take in a heavy combat melee.

Melody Kidwell, 35, of Gassaway, W.Va., went to the festival with her three children, Paige, 13, Devon, 8, and Cody, 7. While the boys were most interested in the fighting events, Melody and Paige Kidwell were drawn elsewhere.

"The outfits are so interesting," Paige said. "And the dancing is really cool, too."

Paige and her mother also were intrigued by the weaving demonstrations.

"People don't weave like this very often anymore," Melody Kidwell said. "It's so neat to see how they do it."

Ester Eliasdotter, who lives in Iceland and has participated in Renaissance fairs there, happened to be visiting the Washington County area and decided to go to the festival. Eliasdotter said the festival was very different from those in Iceland.

"Our aim is for extreme authenticity. Here, things are more mixed together, and at first, I thought, 'This outfit does not go with that period,'" Eliasdotter said. "But it's larger and more family-oriented here. It's great fun."

White, president of Barony of Highland Foorde, said many of the reenactors planned to camp on the grounds overnight.

"We'll have a Bardic circle with singing, storytelling, drumming, maybe some dancing around the campfire," White said. "It's just a nice time had by all."

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