MONROE — Moving silently through the parking lot of the Evergreen State Fairgrounds on Sunday afternoon, a figure in a dark, floor-length hooded cloak slipped into one of the buildings used for rodeo shows and 4-H competitions during the fair.
Tucked inside the large pavilion was a whole other world.
A couple hundred women in long, embroidered gowns and men in coarse shirts strapped with wide, leather belts were talking to each other, walking between crafts stands. Some sported mantles, others, with quivers on their backs, wore leather hats with fir trim.
In one corner, a metalsmith leaned over his forge, his face dark with soot from the furnace.
History buffs and Renaissance lovers from all over the Northwest flocked to the fairgrounds this weekend for an annual medieval fair organized by an international Middle Ages research group called Society for Creative Anachronism.
Anachronism means a person or thing that is chronologically out of place.
“We create the Middle Ages in modern day,” said Mike McGuffin, who came down for the weekend from Saskatoon, Canada. “If you like history, it’s 10 times more interesting to live it.”
A self-proclaimed history nerd, McGuffin said he learned many valuable skills since he got involved in the group, from cooking to making crafts.
Members of the society have a hands-on approach to history, according to the group’s Web site. They get together to play medieval games, wear the clothes and explore the arts and culture of the time.
The group’s interest encompasses Western Europe up to 17th century, with an emphasis on the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
“While we re-create history, we create our own history while we do it,” said Shane Deseranno of Snohomish.
Deseranno, who works for Microsoft, said he enjoys spending time away from his busy world. “It gets people away from technology.”
At the club’s meetings, Deseranno, 32, is known as Englishman Piers the Deaf.
Most members create for themselves a medieval persona from a specific time and place. Not a lot of people even know each other’s real names, Deseranno said.
Miranda Blum of Monroe portrayed a 10th century Norman woman. “I’m interested in Viking and French culture,” she said.
The high school senior joined the club last month as a page, which means she helps out at events, learning from other members.
“I’ve always been interested in history, and this looked like it would be enjoyable,” Blum said.
Blum wore a dark-rose loose-sleeve dress she made herself. “I used a little bit of cranberry juice last night to darken it,” she said.
The teen plans to attend a college in Oregon and study creative writing.
Homework, the debate club and honor society keep Blum busy, and the chance to inhabit the Middle Ages for a while is a welcome break.
“It’s different enough from the outside world that things that are normally on my mind get pushed to the back some,” she said.
While Blum’s parents decided not to get involved with the group, Deseranno said his wife and two young kids got hooked.
“It gets us to be together. There are no excuses,” he said.
Reporter Katya Yefimova: 425-339-3452 or firstname.lastname@example.org.