RICHMOND — Two men wearing suits of armor, swords in hand, faced each other in a roped-off ring on the waterfront before beginning the clash.

The battle only last around a minute or two, but the crowd gathering around the ring Saturday morning still cheered on the clangs of the steel on steel as the medieval re-enactors demonstrated what a fight to the death would have looked like several centuries ago. The goal of the fight, as well as the other demonstrations by the medieval re-enactment group, was to educate. But that doesn’t mean the swordsmen don’t try or that wearing 85 pounds of steel is an easy task.

“The blows are still real,” said Andrew Jefferson, one of the fighters. “Some of them do not feel good.”

The sword fight was part of the Richmond Days’ Renaissance theme. Jefferson, a martial arts teacher who lives in Manchester, New Hampshire, came as part of his Renaissance fair comedy act, The Corr Thieves, but he also participates in sword battles.

The primary group at the waterfront event, the Brotherhood of the Arrow and Sword, does medieval re-enactments at Renaissance fairs around New England.

Brian Caton, of Lebanon, who fought Jefferson in the ring Saturday morning, is one of the leaders of the group. He said members of the Brotherhood were previously in other medieval re-enactment groups, but they recently formed their own group to focus more on the educational aspect of Renaissance fairs.

Caton, 43, said he started going to Renaissance fairs more than 15 years ago as a merchant, selling medieval and fantasy-themed goods to attendees. He now practices European martial arts and sword fighting at fairs with the group.

Like the other members of the Brotherhood, Caton has a day job. In his case, he is a radiological teacher for the Department of Defense at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. A couple of other members of the group are high school teachers.

The Brotherhood of the Arrow and Sword had six members at the Richmond event, but the group has around a dozen members total, Caton said. Many of the members are involved with the New Hampshire Renaissance Faire, and the group is exploring the possibility of starting a Renaissance fair in southern Maine, he said. Currently, there aren’t any Renaissance fairs in the state, Caton said.

Jefferson, 36, said he’s been performing the comedy act, which started as a Web series, at Renaissance fairs for about five years. A self-described nerd, Jefferson said he wanted to be part of anything with swords and jousting. But the fairs, where attendees and participants dress up in period clothing, also provide an escape from reality for him and others, he said.

“When you go to a Renaissance fair, you’re in the play amongst all the actors and the plot. It’s more interactive” than a play, Jefferson said. “So it’s a really good escape, I think, for people, maybe people who don’t always fit in other places. They fit in, they’re more welcomed in the Renaissance fair.”

Jefferson’s comedy act partner, Jesse Bolin, also of Manchester, New Hampshire, said the New England Renaissance fair community is a tight-knit group.

“We’re all sort of social outcasts in our own ways, which is fine,” Bolin said. “We’re all nerds. We love it. We found our niche and we do it.”

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

[email protected]

Twitter: @pdkoenig


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