Laurels vs. Pelicans returns this year to Southern Region War on Saturday, June 28th. Wondering what this is and how it came to be? The Gazette asked the person who started it, Mistress Catrin o’r Rhyd For. (Mistress Catrin is also a Gazette editor.)
Where did the idea for Laurels vs. Pelicans come from?
This is a little embarrassing, but I was talking to people at the EK Rapier Champions event in Quintavia two years ago. Surrounded by combat, we speculated that people would probably pay to see the Laurels and Pelicans hit each other. The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was probably true. So I asked the Laurels and Pelicans who were present if they would sign up to do this as a fundraiser, and they said yes. Then it was just a question of how to raise money doing it.
How is the money raised?
The participants get weapons based on how much money people donate in their name. A dagger is $25; sword is $50; two sword/sword & shield is $75; and specialty weapon is $100. The specialty weapons were Mistress Aife’s idea. She has a piece about brain balls, so she thought people might donate money to see her throw foam brains. The other peers liked it and invented their own specialty weapons.
Some peers offer incentives to donate, like Mistress Aife gave away autographed brain balls. This year Baroness Sabine is offering to play entrance music for a peer on her rauschpfeife in return for a donation. The pieces can be period or modern, so someone can enter to the Imperial Death March if a $20 donation is made to make it happen. A Betting Man’s Guide has been sold both years also.
So this isn’t a period activity?
Yes and no. There are parallels I can draw to civic and religious theatricals events in period – not plays but other theatrical activities. We are creating improvised entertainment that takes a lighthearted approach to one of our most formal and structured activities. There are lots of examples of this in period – the Feast of Fools and early mummings to name just two. In spirit I think this has a period feel uniquely adapted to the circumstances of the SCA. Literally is it period – no and the weapons certainly are not.
What is your favorite part?
How willing the peers are to be outlandish to entertain the crowd. I’m not sure how the fighting nickname idea happened, but people have created names worthy of WWF wrestling like the Killigrapher, the Kountess of Kaos and Mistress of Mayhem. The same goes for the specialty weapons. We’ve had to create boffer weapons like a sheep, spoon, broom, quill pen and clipboard.
How much of the money goes to the Pennsic war chest?
All money raised goes to the Pennsic War chest, since Baron Fergus MacRae of Carolingia is again sponsoring the event and covers the costs. In addition, we’re grateful to have him do it again because it means he’ll come announce the bouts, and he has a style that is also reminiscent of WWF wrestling.
Has it changed at all?
Absolutely. This is constantly evolving. The first year we had three melees, with best two out of three taking it. Last year the weather at Panteria meant we couldn’t do LvP – or almost any other activity – outdoors. People needed something to do and the peers didn’t want to cancel, so we turned it into one-on-one bouts that would fit in the dining hall. They turned out to be incredibly fun for the audience. This year we’re doing both melees and single combat. Peers can sign up to do only one or both – their choice.
Also, we initially said no chivalry could take part, but Sir Geoffrey Fitz Galen offered to use the Perm of Death, which was a wig on a flail. We changed our minds, and what he did with that flail was memorable and almost scandalous. The next year Syr Cedric of Thanet fought using the Drop Spindle of Fate with his arm around his wife, who was wielding the Distaff of Doom. Now we ask that chivalry who enter try for a specialty weapon – and are delighted that they are willing to use their fighting skills in this unconventional way to help the kingdom!
How can a Pelican or Laurel sign up?
Peers who would like to participate should contact Lord Fergus Redmead or me (Mistress Catrin o’r Rhyd For). Peers can sign up for single combat and/or melee. Single combat entrants can sign up as Laurel/Pelican pairs or be matched with a peer.
How can other people help?
Some peers have had supporters offer incentives to donors who support them. Or you can support you’re your favorite peer – or one who hasn’t reached their specialty weapon yet.
Where can people find out more information or donate?
There is information on the website now, and we’ll start posting the names of the participating peers at the end of the month. Check back because participants can be added up until two weeks before the event.
Photos by Lord Hugh Tauerner, Mistress Brita Mairi Svensdottir and Baroness Cateline la Broderesse