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Renaissance group asks for permission to use Funkstown park

Local Amtgard chapter to stage an event so town officials can get a sense of what they do

March 21, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

FUNKSTOWN — A “family renaissance sporting group” that stages sword battles using plastic pipe wrapped in foam has asked the Funkstown Town Council if it could use the community’s park on Sundays for its practices.

The Sunday practices usually involve approximately 10 to 30 people, Noah Holweck, treasurer and board member for the local Amtgard chapter, told town officials at a council meeting Monday night.

The group is “dedicated to the recreation of the Sword and Sorcery genre as well as educational aspects of both Medieval and Ancient cultures,” according to AmtgardInc.com.

The group has been using the Hamilton Park area in Hagerstown, near a Haven Road radio station, but the terrain is too flat and ordinary, group members said.

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The group has asked to use the portion of Funkstown Community Park where the Battle of Funkstown re-enactment is held because that terrain has a hill and woods.

Town officials expressed concern about the group using that part of the park every Sunday and also about liability issues, although Amtgard members said their group has liability insurance.

Councilman John Phillips III said a commitment to let the group use the park every Sunday was too much because people use the park on Sundays, and there are often walkers in that area.

The group agreed to stage an event at 1 p.m. on April 15 at Funkstown Community Park so town officials could get a sense of what they do. The group is expecting slightly more participation than normal for that event, said Vincent Toscano, an Amtgard past president and board member.

That also will give town officials a chance to hear feedback from the community about the proposed use of the park, Mayor Paul N. Crampton Jr. said.

When asked by Councilman Richard Gaver, group officials affirmed that the swordplay in which its members participate is similar to what was portrayed in the movie, “Role Models.”

Amtgard is an international organization with the local chapter having nonprofit status, member Don Steinke said. The group has done charity work for a variety of organizations, he said.

In addition to swordplay, the group offers arts-and-crafts activities for “noncombatant” members, Steinke said.

The group would work around town events such as the re-enactment or possibly participate in some way during such events, members said.

Crampton said town officials would need to decide if they would charge the group a fee because out-of-town residents are charged a fee to use park pavilions.

Holweck said they were not interested in using the pavilions or playgrounds.

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