Grown men dress up in medieval garb, pick up swords and attack each other in public parks. Really.

May 13, 2009

Sword fights and good manners
By Patrick McGee
Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Sunday, September 30, 2007

People all over Tarrant County are part of a medieval kingdom. Really.

During the day, Alan Rich oversees seven employees at his plumbing parts company in Fort Worth.

On Wednesday nights, he puts on about 50 pounds of medieval armor, takes up a sword and shield at Boys’ Ranch, a park in Bedford, and battles other men aspiring to become knights.

Rich is a member of Barony of Elfsea, which is part of the Kingdom of Anstorra, a kingdom that includes all of Texas and Oklahoma.

The barony and kingdom are part of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a worldwide organization of medieval enthusiasts who study — and try to re-create — the Middle Ages.

There are sword fights and archery, but also great chivalry and feudal hierarchy.

“It’s a little subculture, very similar to Civil War re-enactments,” Rich said. “We know we’re a little eccentric.”

Rich said he and his wife enjoyed the medieval-themed Scarborough Renaissance Festival in Waxahachie so much they would go in costume each year. One year, a tailor told them about the Society for Creative Anachronism, a group fit for a king that would allow him to develop his own medieval persona.

Glen Wilkerson, a Lockheed Martin employee who writes tech manuals in his day job, said he learned about the society at a Star Trek convention.

Sarah Darr said she learned about it when her uncle told her someone brought a knight’s helmet into his factory’s metal shop to be worked on.

Her former husband, a Dungeons and Dragons fan, wanted to go to an event.

“My response was you have got to be joking. Grown people who put on costumes and hit each other with sticks?” she said. “I more or less went along with him just so he would shut up, to be honest with you.”

She said her husband was just interested in the fighting, but she, unexpectedly, was enchanted by the pageantry, the ambience and the codes of honor and chivalry.

“I was just so hooked, and I’ve been playing ever since,” she said. “We just pretend a lot; it’s really a lot of fun.”

Darr said she even met her current husband in the society, and they had a Renaissance-style wedding.

As she spoke her daughter stood behind her, also in medieval garb, but with a live python as a necklace.

Darr said she has found the society to be fitting for family participation. The knights’ code of conduct even taught her son some manners, and he started opening doors for her.

Members admit — often proudly — that the whole thing might seem silly to some. But they don’t care; they enjoy it too much.

“It beats the hell out of a 12-pack and football on Sunday afternoon,” said Wilkerson, who has a collection of 40 swords. “These are my friends, and some of them are closer than family.”