State College

Old World Festival offers new sights at Boal Mansion

Dennis Greenaway, left, shows Nathan Elliott and Tiernan Elliott a crossbow during the Old World Festival Sunday at the Boal Mansion.
Dennis Greenaway, left, shows Nathan Elliott and Tiernan Elliott a crossbow during the Old World Festival Sunday at the Boal Mansion. psheehan@centredaily.com

The dress code not withstanding, it’s good to be king.

Timothy Taylor, of Lewisburg, was clad from head to toe in medieval garb, the kind of outfit that is difficult to pull off in public unless it is worn with confidence or a large wooden club.

That last one is actually part of the uniform, what could be considered “business casual” in the Shire of Nithgaard, a small region in a much larger kingdom that comprises all of West Virginia and parts of western Pennsylvania and New York — which in turn is really just a smaller subsidiary of a worldwide organization known as the Society for Creative Anachronism Inc.

If you’re confused, don’t be. All that you really need to know is that the members of The SCA at Penn State really enjoy researching and recreating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe.

If it existed during medieval times we re-imagine it and recreate it as it should have and could have been.

Elena De La Palma

“If it existed during medieval times we re-imagine it and recreate it as it should have and could have been,” Elena De La Palma, chatelaine of the Shire of Nithgaard, said.

The group members have previously lent their skills to the Boalsburg Memorial Day celebration and the State College Area High School renaissance fair. On Sunday morning, they were spread across the lawn of the Boal Mansion, both their garb and their clubs on full display in honor of the museum’s Old World Festival.

De La Palma had stitched together the gown she was wearing herself, a product of painstaking research as much as it was thread or fabric. The crowds filtering in and out of the grounds seemed to appreciate the attention to detail

“You can learn about history without having to sift through a textbook,” De La Palma said

Just a few feet away, Taylor, or Timothy of Arindale as he’s know around these circles, was engaged in a fierce armored combat demonstration with one of his cohorts.

What we do can sometimes get brutish and thuggish.

Timothy Taylor

His was a prelude to the impending fencing demonstration, a more graceful and balletic variation on armed combat, which in spirit resembles a bare-knuckle brawl with strategy.

“What we do can sometimes get brutish and thuggish,” Taylor said.

It does pay dividends in recruiting drives, though. While Taylor is quick to stress all of the different skillsets that members of his organization can learn — brewing, blacksmithing, weaving — nothing quite captures the imagination like two grown men beating on one another with clubs and shields.

“That’s how we draw most of our members in because that’s the showy aspect of it,” Taylor said.

Still, there’s more to it then that, though. Taylor said that when he trains newcomers in the art of combat, the single biggest obstacle they have to overcome is their own enthusiasm.

A wild club is no match for skill and muscle memory

His skills with a club have recently taken him all the way to the top of the kingdom. Taylor competed against upwards of 30 different opponents for the right to wear the crown.

Taylor’s new responsibilities are pretty straightforward.

“Your job is to make sure everybody has a good time,” Taylor said.

Frank Ready: 814-231-4620, @fjready

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