We got in from Pennsic last night - hot, tired, sticky, stinky, sunburned, and sore. We had a great time.
Here's a brief (but photo-intense) introduction to Pennsic, for those who don't know what I'm talking about:
The Pennsic War is the largest annual gathering of members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, held every summer at Cooper's Lake Campground in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. Two of the Society's 19 kingdoms - the East and the Middle, fight against each other, and there's a whole collection of other activities.
This was Pennsic 37. This hill overlooks the main battlefield, which is across a road from the campground that's home to 10,000+ people for two weeks.
I haven't been since Pennsic 28, so returning was loads of fun.
Much of Pennsic was still the same - it was as if I'd left a week ago and come back. But there were a few changes, including this very welcome one - the addition of a produce stand. Now it's possible to buy fresh, local, organic fruits and vegetables, instead of living on camp food all week.
"Camping" may not quite be the right word for what we do. It's more like building a tent city. There's no hiking - you pull your car (or truck, or trailer) up to the campsite, set up your tent, add all your furniture, and move in. It's amazing what people do for their temporary homes.
Aaron's friends camp especially comfortably.
But they have a lovely front gate for their camp.
People actually come by to take pictures of the couches, and point out the people lounging to their children as if they're looking at zoo animals. They're really missing out if they don't head around to the front.
There's a sort of "town" - the merchant and food court area - where the camping gets especially elaborate.
And some of the merchants go all out to help create the medieval experience. That's authentic underwear hanging on the line - although it was there all week, so I suspect it was more decorative than functional.
Public entertainment is one thing that makes Pennsic really cool. There's always somebody doing something neat someplace. One afternoon I came across this really cool band in the food court:
And then I found out the drummer is one of Aaron's friends. The group is Teribus, and they've just released an great new album called "How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bombard."
The battles are the most notable feature of Pennsic - it's a war, after all. Nearly every day offers more opportunities to hit people than you can shake a stick at.
The field battle is SCA combat at its most impressive - hundreds or even thousands of people on a side, coming together in one giant banging on each other mess.
Although some days the weather was even more intimidating than the fighters. Pennsic doesn't shut down for rain.
Sometimes getting wet is part of the fun. Those who are too young to hit their friends get to go after their parents and other grown-ups in the children's water battle.
Then there's the pageantry. The Society has 19 kingdoms, all over the world, and most of them send representatives to Pennsic.
The whole thing kicks off with an elaborate ceremony where the Eastern and Midrealm kings agree to start a war - usually.
Monarchs tend to travel in elaborate processions, accompanied by attendants, musicians, and guards.
There are other processions, too. This is the annual Fool's Parade.
And this is a fertility ritual. Yes, they're carrying what it looks like they're carrying.
So that's Pennsic in a nutshell. We spent yesterday taking everything down and driving home, and we'll spend today cleaning everything up. Tomorrow, I'll show off what I did at Pennsic.