Two armor-clad warriors step into the circle hoisting their heavy steel swords above their waist as they move clockwise and focus on their opponent.
Without warning, one lunges forward striking his opponent on the shoulder with his sword – scoring the first point of the tournament competition and sending his supporters into a frenzy as he takes one step closer to making it to the championships.
Sound like something out of medieval times? That’s because it is. And on Saturday, April 2, at Northgate Park at Northgate Drive and Hoyt Lane curious residents and serious history buffs will get the chance to see scenes like that played out in their entirety – compliments of the Barony of Fettburg and their annual Fettburg Championship.
And make no mistake about it – the combative arts are always the biggest draw.
“I was driving by a park and saw these guys playing with swords and I stopped to see what was going on,” said Autocrat Lord Titus Antonius Thurinus – also known as Michael Neel. “That was 10 years ago and I’ve loved it ever since.”
As the autocrat, Neel is in charge of the organization of the annual event, and must choreograph and outline everything from the scientific research classes to the period-specific food available for sale to help raise money for the group.
Even with chain mail, and the thick armor that the combatants wear, Neel says that the shots taken from the heavy swords are far from a slap on the wrist.
“We wear 16-gauge steel helmets because anything less than that would equal a concussion,” he said. “There are other parts of the body that we have to protect as well, such as knees and elbows, and all of that is carried out in an inspection prior to the event.
“We’re anticipating roughly 50 people to participate in the event as members of the Barony, with a dozen of those being combatants.”
The Barony of Fettburg is just one of hundreds of chapters of the Society of Creative Anachronism – a living history group that aims to study and recreate many of the European Medieval cultures prior to the 17th century. As of 2008, the group had 32,000 members worldwide. Members research and re-create a “persona” and attend events which may feature armored tournaments, archery competitions, arts and sciences collegiums (workshops), culinary competitions, equestrian activities, dance, coronations, investitures, feasts, meetings, and more.
The Barony of Fettburg is the chapter of the SCA that covers Stockton, Manteca, Modesto and surrounding areas.
The championship tournament of the Great Barony of Fettburg will involve both Heavy and Rapier fighters competing for the title of champion and the tournament prize.
Additionally, there will be several classes and demonstrations in the Arts and Sciences presented. Duchess Mari Alexander will give a class, on basic garb and research, Viscountess Syele von der Rosen will be teaching an introductory bardic class and Viscount Roric Skogan will be teaching on the combative arts. Other artisans also will be present.
Admission to the event is $4 for members and $9 for non-members, with the event opening to the public at 9 a.m. For additional information about the Barony of Fettburg or to find a link to the website of the Society of Creative Anachronism, visit www.fettburg.org.