Medieval buffs will swarm Fort Knox this weekend

Two men engage in a fencing match last year at the annual medieval tournament at Fort Knox in Prospect.
Abigail Curtis | BDN
Two men engage in a fencing match last year at the annual medieval tournament at Fort Knox in Prospect.
Posted Sept. 08, 2011, at 6:21 p.m.
Men demonstrate the use of a balista siege weapon outside Fort Knox in Prospect last year.
Abigail Curtis | BDN
Men demonstrate the use of a balista siege weapon outside Fort Knox in Prospect last year.

PROSPECT, Maine — This Saturday, visitors to Fort Knox will head at least 400 years back in time during the 10th annual Fort Knox Medieval Tournament.

Organizers expect that activities such as rapier duels, live music and a fashion show will draw more than 1,000 participants and onlookers to the popular event. It’s held as a partnership between the local chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism and the Friends of Fort Knox.

Monique Bouchard, known in the society as Lady Analeda Falconbridge, is the event’s chatelaine. She said Tuesday that the chance to hold the tournament at the fort provides an unforgettable ambiance.

“There are really beautiful locations for all different kinds of SCA events, but I really feel that Fort Knox, while not a medieval thing in and of itself, really provides a castlelike atmosphere,” she said. “It’s a great privilege and a great joy for us to have the event in that space.”

She said the tournament is one of the largest events held in Maine by the society and is traditionally the highest-attended single-day event held at the fort all year.

People of all ages come to enjoy activities, arts and other offerings from a period extending roughly from 1100 to 1600.

“We re-create western Europe and any of the societies and cultures that western Europe came into contact with,” Bouchard said. “People find it engaging and enlivening.”

The Society for Creative Anachronism is an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts, skills and traditions of pre-17th century Europe, according to its website.

It was begun in 1966 by a group of friends who were history buffs and students in Berkeley, Calif.

“People joke that the SCA cherry-picks the Middle Ages and indeed we do,” Bouchard said. “We pick the parts with gender equality and no plague.”

Some other events, movements and activities included in the chosen time period are the Renaissance, the blossoming of science, the rise of monastic culture and the beginning of western European exploration of the world, she said.

The tournament has grown over the decade it has been held at Fort Knox. Last year about 120 members from all over the state put on demonstrations and helped with activities, while 1,300 people attended.

This year, organizers are hoping to spark a sense of rivalry as two factions compete for the honors in duels and melees.

“Everything is very participatory. People should come. They should touch things. They should ask questions,” she said.

And when they leave the fort’s gray ramparts behind, Bouchard hopes that visitors will carry something special home.

“I would hope that people would take away a greater sense of the beauty and wonder of a time period that is often misunderstood and misrepresented,” she said. “And also that is inspired by the values …[like] the importance of chivalry, of personal nobility and honor. The idea that chivalry, honor and nobility are still highly valued in this day and age is a really good lesson to pass on.”

The Fort Knox Medieval Tournament will be held 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, at Fort Knox in Prospect. Although the event is free and open to the public, participants must pay the regular fort admission fees of $3 for ages 12 and up and $1 for ages 5-11. Admission is free for children under 4 and seniors over 65.

For more information, visit www. fortknox.maineguide.com.

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