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Huzzah! Inaugural Medieval Festival a Resounding Success    

April 6, 2018


Dr. Katherine Echol's Arthurian Lit class poses with two armor-clad Society for Creative Anachronisms (SCA) members.

By Patrick Temperilli, Academic Affairs

The quad at the heart of Texas A&M University at Galveston’s campus had large tents, banners, knights, lords, ladies and plenty of curious students.

Dr. Katherine Echols teaches her Arthurian Literature class every spring, but this year has been different. This year TAMUG hosted its first ever Medieval Festival.

Organized by Dr. Echol’s students and sponsored by the Department of Liberal Studies, what started as a joke at the beginning of the semester came to fruition with plenty of hard work and help.

The idea started when Dr. Echols spoke with her student, Aidan Halter, last semester about jousting.  Aidan’s mom Jennifer is heavily involved in the Society for Creative Anachronisms (SCA), an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th century Europe. After speaking with her son, Jennifer reached out to Dr. Echols in regards to a class visit and demonstration.

“The class brainstormed,” said Dr. Echols, “and I started sending emails and making phone calls.”

Jennifer Halter’s visit with the class got things rolling, which was easy being that many of the SCA volunteers are Aggies themselves. Thus, the medieval event was underway, with hopes that a TAMUG SCA organization would follow.

Students enjoyed the sights, sounds and smells of the Middle Ages including a blacksmith, displays of medieval combat, calligraphy, bookmaking and photo booths, medieval wheel-of-fortune and food.  Chartwells even joined in the fun by providing some delicious wassail, a traditional medieval beverage of mulled cider.

Dr. Echols’ students displayed the results of their respective research projects, which covered a host of topics, from the evolution of shipbuilding, medieval maritime navigation, heraldry, the concept of magic, historical beekeeping and writing manuscripts.

Marissa Brameyer, a marine biology student, adapted historical recipes in order to create a medieval vegan cookbook and brought homemade vegan strawberry tarts that were a hit with passersby.

Danielle Thompson, a maritime administration student, focused on the workings of medieval apprenticeships, while Jack Sharp, a member of TAMUG’s Men’s Organization, focused on the concept of chivalry.

Richard Dally, a member of the TAMUG Archaeology Research Group, manned a booth where students could play medieval wheel of fortune or buy handmade bracelets to help raise funds for the organization, which has ambitions to build an archaeology minor on campus.

“This is a wonderful group of motivated students,” said Dr. Echols.  “If a festival is the way to engage students with history, literature and the Middle Ages, then I’m happy play host. We need more cultural events on this campus.”

There are definitive plans to bring a chapter of the SCA to TAMUG, as has already been done in College Station.  Interested students such as Russell Cole received newsletters and filled out forms to get the process started, and Dr. Echols has already begun looking at securing the funding to grow the Medieval Festival into a regular campus event every spring.

 “I would love to see this grow to the point that we could invite local school children,” she said. 

It’s safe to say that there’s a desire on campus for such events.  The weather was great, the atmosphere was festive and the pot of wassail never ran dry.

TAMUG students Danielle Thompson and Marissa Brameyer setting up research posters. Two SCA members engage in heavy combat.

Richard Dally of the TAMUG Archaeology Research Group speaking with a potential member. A student learning a medieval weaving technique.

Editors Notes:
Photo 1: TAMUG students Danielle Thompson and Marissa Brameyer setting up research posters.  Photo 2: Two SCA members engage in heavy combat.  Photo 3: Richard Dally of the TAMUG Archaeology Research Group speaking with a potential member.  Photo 4: A student learning a medieval weaving technique.

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A special thanks is due to the SCA for helping make the first TAMUG Medieval Festival a fantastic and successful experience for all involved.

Note: If you are interested in being a part of the Clear Lake/Galveston area SCA, please contact Jennifer Halter at baroness@loch-soilleir.ansteorra.org. For those in the Houston area, please contact Sara Mast at 281-257-5438.  For further information on the SCA, please visit www.sca.org.

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Media contact:
Patrick Temperilli, Academic Affairs
temperilli@tamug.edu, 409.740.4783


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