Ten Things to do at Your First Pennsic — or, really, any Pennsic

SATURDAY: Go to Opening Ceremonies

One of the cool things about the SCA is the pageantry.

Get up to the fort at about 7:30 p.m. Saturday and watch hundreds of people from the SCA’s 19 kingdoms march in, wearing their finest clothes, and listen as the kings and queens of the Known World announce which side they will fight for. (Drink water)

SUNDAY:  Check out some of the best Arts & Sciences displays in the SCA

When you think about “war,” you might not think about exquisitely handmade beads, breath-taking scrolls and dresses that look as though they should be in a museum, but you will find those and so many more things in the Great Hall from, 1 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. This exhibition of  what our artisans have to offer is one of the best things about Pennsic. It’s a great chance to ask people about there work and to find out how to get started yourself. (Drink water)

MONDAY: Go watch the field battle

There will be fighting going on all week, from one-on-one tournaments to the Field Battle at 10 a.m. Monday. This is the battle people talk about when they talk about Pennsic. Thousands of fighters in their full gear rushing at each other. Find a good vantage point, stand with some folks who seem to know what’s going on and take in one of the highlights of the two weeks of Pennsic. (Drink water)

TUESDAY: Go watch, help at or play in the Water Battle

Kids of all ages will be at the fort on the battlefield from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the decidedly non-period but absolutely wonderful annual Water Battle featuring squirt guns, water balloons and other ways to soak your opponent. (Drink water)

WEDNESDAY: Go shopping! Maybe you have already, but time is getting short, and Wednesday is “Midnight Madness, when the merchants are open very, very late. Smile and be kind to them. They have had a very long week. It will be a year until you get another chance for shopping like this. (Drink water)

WEDNESDAY: Yes, this is a double-dip. But you get the morning and part of the afternoon off. You may get busy shopping, but at some point get yourself down to the Performing Arts Pavilion. At 7 p.m. Cerian Cantwyr and friends (with friends like these . . . ) will be performing some of the funniest SCA songs you will ever here. There may even be a serious song or two in there. A 9 p.m., Heather Dale, in my book the pre-eminent SCA performer will take the stage. Heather puts on one of the best shows ever. She will make you laugh and think. She’ll also have friends along. (Drink water)

THURSDAY: Take some classes! Here’s hoping you got to classes already, but this would be a terrific day to check out some more. The all-day Artisans’ Row tents will feature Medieval Animals (well, information about animals in period), Book Arts and Lacemaking. If you liked Master Cerian the night before, he’s teaching “Writing Humorous Songs.” There are beginner classes in the game Go, belly dancing, engraving and psyanky, decorating eggshells with bright colors in the Ukrainian style. There is a “fool school” and a class on period feasts. Go. Learn. (Drink water)

FRIDAY: Besides packing, you should reconnect with folks you met and exchange contact information, thank people who helped you during the war and find time to help for an hour or two if you can. The final war point battle, the Bridge Battle, is at 10 a.m., and closing ceremonies will follow. (Drink water)

SATURDAY: Go see the Runestone. It’s at the top of Runestone Hill (convenient, that). If you are walking down the hill, with Midrealm Royal on your right, you will pass a small field with a copse of trees. The carved Runestone, runes on one side and the Roman alphabet on the other, has been there since Pennsic 10. It shows a dragon the Midrealm symbol) fighting with the Eastern Tyger. (If you are leaving site before this, then do it during the week.) (Drink water)

AS OFTEN AS YOU CAN: Volunteer! That’s what the SCA in general and Pennsic in particular, are all about. People pull together to make things happen. There is a huge need for volunteers in every area throughout the war. Some of the most popular are working troll or security, manning information point or disability point or the Pennsic University information booth. You can carry water on the battlefield, help tear down on Friday and to help at herald’s point, all you have to do is be able to color or to collate. You will meet cool people and learn a lot of things. (Drink water)

A LITTLE PENNSIC HISTORY: This is Pennsic 42. (It’s the 48th year of the SCA, which gives you an idea of how historic Pennsic is.)
The canonical legend of the start of the Pennsic War says King Cariadoc declared war on himself and the loser got Pittsburgh. Legends can be fun if not always true. You may, by the way, run into Cariadoc, who keeps an in-period camp called the “Enchanted Ground.”

The first Pennsic was held in 1972, at Newton’s Campground (now Shorehaven Campground) in Waterford, Pa., and it moved yearly until Pennsic VI landed here at Cooper’s Lake. There have been massive changes over the years. Find anyone who been at 30 or more, and you won’t be able to stop the stories.

Since Pennsic XXV (1996) yearly attendance has top 10,000. SCA members are not the only people who attend. There other historical re-enactment groups such as Markland and Acre, martial arts-based organizations, such as the Tuchux or Rome and many others. (Drink water)

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