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Hagerstown Renaissance festival an educational experience

June 14, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

HAGERSTOWN -- To be clear, it's not a Renaissance fair. It's an educational experience.

The Society for Creative Anachronism's Barony of Highland Foorde held its annual public gathering in Hagerstown Saturday on the grounds of the Jonathan Hager House.

Although the event features tunics, surcoats and minstrels by the dozens, it differs from Renaissance fairs in that many of its participants have spent years researching their craft or skill.

"It's not about entertaining, it's about educating," said Sherri Fabic, who helped put on this year's event.

The Society for Creative Anachronism is a worldwide group with different kingdoms, or "baronies," across the country.

The Barony of Highland Foorde covers Washington, Frederick, Allegany and Garrett counties.

It puts on public events in all four counties and has hosted the event in Hagerstown for 15 years, Fabic said.

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During Saturday's event, volunteers sold crafts, played music and staged melees or one-on-one battles with as many authentic medieval or Renaissance tools as possible.

"All of this is researched. Most of it is hand-done," said Fabic as she walked through the row of merchants.

Ken Koll, known in society circles as "Lord Valdis of Gotland," has been in the society for 15 years.

On Saturday, he was selling carved horns, antlers and woodworks.

"There's a lot of research that can be done. A lot," said Koll as he opened a box full of archaeological books.

Koll said the challenge of doing authentic work has become easier with the popularity of Internet groups because he can share information with like-minded people on the other side of the world.

"When I started doing woodcarvings, I was copying from 2-by-2 encyclopedia pictures," Koll said.

Sherri Fabic's husband, Greg, who is known as "Gius Tascius," has spent 20 years in the society.

He helped Saturday with the Highland Foorde Melees, a re-enactment featuring battles with rapiers, broadswords and other assault weapons.

While the battles can result in bruises, Greg Fabic said some of the weapons used bend more than authentic materials.

"As far as safety, we've been rated by insurance groups as somewhere between football and basketball," Greg Fabic said.

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