Although medieval knights never fought for a kingdom in Santee, and no historical record exists of Celtic bagpipers ever intimidating an invisible enemy on Magnolia Avenue, the medieval festival held at the barn on Feb. 18 had both pipers and warriors as well as Madrigal singers, a catapult, archery and a kids station where young maidens could decorate a sword and pint-sized pages could design their own crown.
Upon arriving at the historic Edgemoor Barn in Santee, members of the public heard the event before entering as the harmonized sounds of the Santee Community Chorus singing renaissance madrigals in harmony carried outside the entrance while singer Bob Inot welcomed people to the festival.
Once inside, children could stop by the kids area to arm themselves with homemade swords, some bejeweled with rhinestones and others colored in red ‘blood’ drawn from crayon. Any child wishing to be royalty for the day could assemble a crown to wear around the event.
Members of Chivalry Today, an educational outreach company which utilizes chivalric ideals to explore history, literature and philosophy explained their armor, weapon styles and fighting techniques to attendees.
Program Advisor and Teaching Artist April Apperson-Farrell explained where combatants could be hit, as well as which areas were most vulnerable.
“Notice, the palms of the hands are not armored,” Apperson-Farrell explained to a group of children, including one who audibly whispered “that’s a girl” as she pointed out the female fighter.
A table laid out with chainmail coifs, a bascinet, a hauberk and gauntlets drew little hands wanting to touch the shiny armor.
“This kind is flat and this one is round,” Elijah Miller observed, running his fingers over the different types of maille. “I think the flat one might be better because the round one could get pushed into your body,” Elijah said, and asked the Chivalry Today representative if he could pick up the helmet.
Farther on, 7 Celtic Nations bagpiper Jean Höeger played a quick round of Danny Boy as a means to tune up her instrument.
“All the components are individually tuned, the pipes and chanter are all tuned separately and then we have to be in tune with each other,” Höeger said before laughing and accusing her husband Kurt Höeger of being the one out of tune.
Well past the barn, a catapult was set up for kids and adults to observe, as well as an archery station where attendees could take a shot at the target set up out of range of attendees.
While medieval history lived on outside the barn, the displays inside were all dedicated to the history of the property and its significance to Santee. The Edgemoor Barn in Santee is just 110 years old, but has already served as part of a family farm, a public farm for impoverished residents, a geriatric hospital, and is now home to the Santee Historical Society.
Each area of the barn was set up to show a different use for the barn— where the hospital stall contained an antique metal gurney, original ether machine and display of retired nursing outfits, other stalls held antique farming equipment and featured photographs of how families once utilized the community farm.
SHS Secretary Arli Wolfson also gave a quick tour through the barn, noting the thick walls which were originally built to contain bulls and pointing out where additional milking barns once stood, as well as where the county once maintained the hospital where medievalists now entertained attendees.
Wolfson said she considered the festival a success as it had “much better attendance” than last year and several people asking how they could get involved with future events.
“Several people have said they want to help grow the event, including that really nice group of pirates,” she said, gesturing to a group of attendees who turned up garbed as pirates.