VALPARAISO | A sliver of life in the Middle Ages arrived Saturday.
The Shire of Greyhope of the Region of Constellation of the Middle Kingdom — also known as the Northwest Indiana chapter of the Society of Creative Anachronism, or SCA — hosted a Medieval Festival at the Valparaiso Public Library.
Although the group has about 30,000 members worldwide, the 50-member local chapter aims to acquaint Northwest Indiana residents with the lifestyle of the Middle Ages and Renaissance. Group members demonstrate armored combat, music, dance, blacksmithing and crafts.
The group demonstrated games and armored combat and displayed fighting equipment such as crossbows, swords called "rapiers," fencing masks, helmets, shields and gauntlets.
"This is how we get the word out," said Dave Gamble, an SCA member from Valparaiso. "It's mainly public education. Not many people have these kinds of items, so we like to show them what they are and what we do. We like to give people a taste of the Middle Ages."
For fun, each member chooses a persona from the era as well as a name they go by in the group.
"We pick a time we like and re-create a person from that time," said Gamble, whose persona is Victor, a Romanian warrior from 1450.
Gamble and Jonathan Burnham, of Merrillville, demonstrated armored combat, and Bob Howton, of South Haven, and Dale Dreessen, of Cedar Lake, led children in a game of medieval tug-of-war.
To protect himself from injuries, Burnham sported a 25-pound riveted "hauberk," worn over a riding tunic, and a metal gorget, like a collar, around his neck. Burnham portrayed an 11th century Norman, a transplanted Viking who lived in northern France.
"I liked sword-fighting," said Burnham, who joined the SCA in the late 1990s. "Since I've joined I've gotten much more interested in the period and researching my persona."
Jody Howton, whose persona is Kiliana of Greyhope, explained the use of heavy metal fighting gauntlets to Sophie Deland and Bethany Blaga-Crofton, both of Valparaiso.
"They could also use them if the kids disobey," Deland said jokingly as nephew Joshua Crofton, 3, and Gabriel Crofton, 1½, examined replicas of arrows.
Gamble, like many SCA members, joined the organization when he was in college after seeing a demonstration at Purdue similar to the one Saturday.
"I said, 'Wow, I've always wanted to do that,'" Gamble said. "So here I am."
Gamble said he also gets to live a dream and hang out on the weekends with folks who share his interests.
"It's the childhood fantasy of being a knight," Gamble said. "There's also the camaraderie. I've make lots of good friends in the SCA."