Students relive renaissance at campus festival

Students dressed in vests, elaborate bodices and sometimes horns at the “Rutgers Renaissance Fair.” They sold sculpted wood pieces and plaster dragons. At the “Feast of the King’s Tax,” a dancer performed for an audience of authentically-clad participants.

The Busch Campus Center looked like it traveled back in time to the 1400s, with members taking part in sword fights. They wore elaborate medieval dresses and costumes. Students could learn how to make chain mail or listen to medieval stories. Scarlet Cross, an undergraduate organization at Rutgers that examines and re-enacts events from medieval history, organized the event.

Ilea Santiago, an officer of the organization, explained Scarlet Cross is a society that focuses on medieval history from 600 A.D. to 1600 A.D.

“We do research,” said Santiago, a School of Arts and Sciences junior. “We try to recreate craft, clothing, music, dance and food.”

Almost 30 members of Scarlet Cross gathered in the Busch Campus Center Saturday to watch and take part in these re-enactments. The goal of the re-enactments is to educate the public about medieval history.

Danielle Horr, secretary of Scarlet Cross, said more people are apt to learn from the members of organization.

“It’s much more fun to educate people when you are dressed in a costume than if you are in a suit talking in front of a classroom,” said Horr, a School of Arts and Sciences junior.

Most people think Scarlet Cross is a religious organization, Horr joked. The actual origins of the name comes from a group called Companions of the Cross, part of the Markland corporation, which helped found the Scarlet Cross. Markland aims to educate the public about medieval times.

Besides their annual “Renaissance Fair,” Scarlet Cross works with outreach programs and holds workshops to further educate the Rutgers community about medieval craft.

“You can learn to make handbags and chain mail, and can learn about heraldry,” Santiago said.

The “Renaissance Fair” was one event during Rutgers’ Geek Week, which celebrates all things geeky and disproves many stereotypes associated with being a geek. Scarlet Cross aims to educate students about the historical background that some of their favorite geek-related media are based on.

Geek culture is becoming more popular among teens and young adults. Shows and movies featuring medieval culture like “The Hobbit,” “The Lord of the Rings” franchise and “Game of Thrones” have had a huge cultural impact on society, making the “geek” association more acceptable.

When asked why young adults are drawn to geek culture, Santiago explained the term “geek” has gone from a derogatory term to one that should be embraced.

“Adults who were shamed for being a geek really allowed the next generation to be open about what they like and what they do,” she said.

Scarlet Cross is an organization where people who have an interest in medieval culture can join and not be judged for their interests. It is a safe, close-knit society. Horr described the club as one huge family.

“Even though it is an educational club, it doesn’t feel like school,” Horr said. “You’re having fun while you learn.”

Daniel Snyder-Vidmar, a School of Arts and Sciences junior, tagged along with a few friends at the fair.

“My favorite part of the fair would have to be either the banners or the face painting,” he said.

More importantly, students had fun doing what they love in a judgment-free community.

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