People have many ways to escape reality. For Nick Hughes and Clancy Fairchild of the Society for Creative Anachronism, revisiting the past is a great way to do just that.
The SCA is an organization with more than 30,000 members in countries all over the world. Dressing in the clothing of the Middle Ages and renaissance, its members study medieval history and attend medieval reenactment events which include tournaments courts, feasts and workshops.
Starting in Berkeley, California in the 1960s, the SCA began as a medieval-themed birthday party.
Hughes, who goes by Ivailo Alexandrov in the SCA, is a squire to a knight in the SCA and has been a member since the mid-90s.
“I was riding my bicycle past the park and noticed that (people) were fighting in medieval armor,” Hughes said.
Hughes had been very interested in medieval history since he was “old enough to read a book,” so he stopped to talk to them and became a member.
Fairchild, or Sir Clancy Fairchild of Ulster, as he is known in the SCA, first became aware of the organization around the same time as Hughes. Fairchild was active duty in the Air Force at the time and a golden glove boxer. As Fairchild was fighting younger men that had more free time to train, he stopped boxing.
“I still had that desire, that gap to fill,” Fairchild said. Fairchild’s then-wife introduced him to the SCA. Fairchild liked it but was too busy to get seriously involved until the early 2000s. Fairchild is a knight in the organization and a knight’s marshal, seeing to the safety of SCA members in the area.
The SCA has 20 “kingdoms” around the world. Fairchild spent 11 years in Europe, his kingdom there called Drachenwald, which contains SCA members in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Hughes and Fairchild are members of the Kingdom of the Outlands, which covers New Mexico, Colorado, and parts of Nebraska and Wyoming, including Cheyenne.
“The SCA is always looking for new members,” Fairchild said . Members can be as involved as they want to in the organization, wearing clothing ranging from long T-shirts and jeans to hand sewn medieval clothing, depending on their level of comfort and “whatever makes them happy,” Fairchild said.
SCA activities most notably include “heavy fighting,” in which members wear armor and fight. They use rattan for their weapons, a bamboo-like material. Fairchild said that this does normally result in some bruising, but there are strict safety regulations for the weapons, armor and the fights themselves to ensure that members are not injured.
“I like to call it full-contact paintball,” Fairchild said.
Other activities and commodities at SCA events include courts with medieval inspired entertainment, merchants, feasts, design contests and workshops in which members can learn how to create medieval objects, food and many other things. Members can choose to participate and help with any activity they wish, whether they want to participate in the fights or simply enjoy the food, there is something for everyone. More information can be found at sca.org.