(By Jamie Henneman/Chewelah Independent)
Tournament of Inland Empire afforded opportunities for history buffs and romantics…
Dust kicks up in a dry field as the archers ready their equipment while a Jack Russell terrier scans the grounds for bits of leftover food. A craftsman encourages visitors to pound out a ring made of copper or to try on his homemade suit of chain mail armor.
There is a traveling bard, a woman spinning wool and an arena prepped for the next jousting tournament. These are some of the many attractions visitors to the Tournament of the Inland Empire were able to enjoy at medieval games event held in Clayton last weekend.
The gathering was hosted by the Spokane Epona Equestrian Club and is one of many that will occur during the summer months throughout the country as enthusiasts of the medieval and renaissance period join with their clubs and associations to re-create historic scenes. Along with wearing period clothing, participants also train in the sport and art of the time, learning skills like sword fighting and archery along with candlemaking and metal working.
Donald Anderson, a member of the Spokane Adrian Empire Club, said he became interested in being part of the Adrian Empire after he was asked to participate in a “shoot the knight” game at a local Renaissance fair.
“In the game, you get to shoot a man dressed up in armor with an arrow that has a tennis ball on the end. I shot the knight and then had the chance to be the knight. When they armored me up I was thinking ‘this is kind of fun,’” said Anderson.
Anderson said the Adrian Empire works to recreate the period from 500 to 1600 A.D. He said some recent interest can be credited to TV series that have popularized the period like “Game of Thrones” or “Vikings.”
“It’s fun to find out about the old ways, to find out what it’s really like,” he said.
Another participant, known as Weezel, said he has learned a lot about the period from the Society for Creative Anachronism. He makes period jewelry and other items that he sells at the events and also participates in some of the sports. His armor, including large shields and chain mail armor, are home made—a combination of creativity and recycling that join metal shields with old garden hoses split and attached around the rims for padding.
The enthusiasm of the participants and their dedication to immersing themselves in a historic environment can be moving as they connect with another era.
Sansapelle, a self-styled traveling bard, learns old ballads that she played on her lute guitar. She teared up while singing a love ballad, moved by the song’s message. She laughs, dabbing her eyes, “Sorry, this happens sometimes.”
In all, the event afforded opportunities for history buffs and romantics, reviving a unique festival setting worth visiting. For more information, go to www.sca.org, www.adrianempire.org or following the Epona Equestrian Club’s Facebook page.