Many people that I know in the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) only go to local events. For some it is a choice based completely on finances, the quality of their car, and the amount of time that they can get off from work. But for others it is just a lack of interest.
The kingdom that I currently live in, Atenveldt, is my third kingdom. I started my SCA journey in the East, lived in the West for many years, and only later moved to Atenveldt. My collection of “great wars” includes Pennsic War in PA, Great Western War in CA, Gulf War in MS, and Estrella War in AZ. And I have been to many “second tier” events such as Battlemore and Potrero War.
I sometimes hear the statement, “Why should I bother to go that far? I can have just as much fun closer to home.” Well, there is no doubt about having fun close to home. Fun is generally an important part of the reason that we play this game in the first place. But going to a great war can really change your perspective on the game.
I had only been playing in the SCA for about six months when my husband and I packed up and drove 14 hours to go to Pennsic with our local group. Fourteen hours. And that is nothing compared to our friends from Canada who drive 24 hours to attend Pennsic. And people wonder why I have a low tolerance for folks who refuse to drive an extra hour to attend an event …
The first year that we attended Pennsic we only went for one of the two weeks, but it was AMAZING! There were more classes than I had ever imagined, including classes on Rapier and Heavy Fighting techniques, the basics of making your own archery equipment, costuming, and a zillion different crafts techniques. And that brings up another issue, if the war is longer you can settle in, and still have LOTS of time to do a bunch of different things – fighting AND Arts and Sciences, Rapier AND Archery. Why choose, when you can do it all?!?!
The battles at Pennsic were monumental, with entire groups in matching armor and tabards. The bands of Celtic fighters, marching to the field singing with small herds of women and children banging drums behind them. The Japanese units in full Samurai armor, and the Roman legions, complete with helms, armor and shields.
In short, it was amazing, exciting, and inspiring. Even more important, it made me realize just how many legitimate games there are available to be played within the Society. Dramatically different levels of costuming, fighting, archery… you name it. European Dance performed to a live band. Middle Eastern Dance performed to a live band, with stringed and wind instruments, not just a drummer.
It is all out there for our enjoyment, but sometimes we need to leave our own backyards in order to truly experience it. In the western US there is West Antir War, Great Western War and Estrella War. In the eastern US there is Pennsic War, Lilies War, and Gulf Wars. And once you have been to one great war, go to another in a different part of the US. Dare to step outside your own local area- you might be amazed at what you discover!