Gryphon's Festival: "Some Serious Fun"

Conte Fernando Vigil on the Kingdom of Calontir reports on a "great little event." Gryphon's Festival was held October 15, 2005 at the Busch Wildlife Conservation Area Archery Range in St. Charles, Missouri.

Fernando writes:

Did you miss Gryphon's Festival this weekend? Then you missed a great little event.

The folks of the group formerly known as Gryphon's Keep (soon to have a new non-conflicting name) went all out to provide a fantastic day jam packed with activities.

Within 30 minutes of the site opening archers were already taking the line shooting on a very nice archery range. Three separate shoots (each shot twice) comprised the group's archery champion shoot which was open to everyone. By having all these shot simultaneously, archers could pick whichever shoot had the shortest line so even with 20 or so archers we got a lot of shooting in quickly. Since the range had wooden walls on both sides, an earth berm behind the targets, and extremely short ground cover, there was really no down time for lost arrows. This help keep the mornings pace up nicely. My favorite shoot was from the top of a platform some 12-15' in the air, shooting down at some ruffian's attempting to make off with our beer.

Armor inspection was starting just about as the official champions shoots ended so I hurried to the fighting field which was right beside the archery range. As I armored up the bar-room games had begun nearby - notably the drunk tossing. As the throws reached 25', serious harm could have befallen our unwitting drunk - but fortunately no drunks were harmed in the making of this game as they had a haybale dressed in pants and tunic to fill in.

Following this they had a beer mug sliding competition, where a bartender's accuracy sliding a mug down the wooden bar was tested. Unlike the drunk tossing game, here the name of the game was finesse - not brute strength, and I'm sad to say many of us would have wasted a lot of beer off the end of the bar had we been real bartenders.

Their next game involved running a slalom like course around the tables in the "bar" while holding 6 pitchers of 'beer". Complicating matters were a pair of folks with extra long arms (built like boffer weapons with hands on the end.) trying to "grab" a beer as the server passed. The idea was to complete the course having spilled as little of the "beer' as possible. Of course as the day passed the game got even more exciting as the course got slick with spilled liquid, the drunks started "grabbing" for the servers, and the servers managed to throw entire pitchers of water... er... "beer" on the drunks.

While the games were fun enough, they were made still more fun because of how many people participated, and how the large crowd of spectators all gathered around cheering, laughing, and occasionally heckling.

The fighting started while the games were still going on, but since they were right next to each other (as in fact were all the days activities much to my appreciation) it was easy to participate in both activities. After a period of pick ups, the official fighting started with a number of rounds of the group's variant of Mordain's Rings.

Mordain's Rings (developed by Viscount Mordain of Ealdormere) is played in a series of three concentric rings. The fighters begin in the center ring, and as they die (or accidentally cross the line) they must go to the next ring out and continue. The first rounds of the game were fought single sword, and much mayhem ensued - including a number of untimely double kills. Once other weapon systems were added to the mix, fighters got to use the additional tactic of "helping" their friends "accidentally" step across the line and out of the inner rings. With the right group of people this game can be a terrific amount of fun - and we definitely had the right people.

After a few more pick up melees, we moved to the bar for a series of bar-room brawls. The bar-room was lined with wooden rails, and was furnished with a heavy wooden bar, three tables (made of Styrofoam and cardboard), and several heavy cardboard benched (basically 4" long boxes). Atop the bar was a (foam) beer keg on a stand, and (foam) beer mugs could be found on the tables. The fighters were armed with a variety of weapons ranging from the beer mugs to a bung hammer, from a large round wine bottle, to a candle and candlestick.

At the lay-on much mayhem ensued. Like in the earlier games, the many spectators watched the battles adding cheers and jeers into the mix. Fighters were hit over the head with tables, benches were thrown, the beer keg became a prime target. By the second round, the drunk from the drunk tossing, was launched into the barroom and became an added weapon/shield/agent-of-chaos. Over the course of the series of fights: I hid under the bar; Sir Valdemar and a few others danced upon the bar; Sigfried and I carried our drunken hay-man on a singing tour of the bar (How dry I am, of course); and Sigfried played the passed out drunk "sleeping" his way through one battle till disturbed by the last couple survivors and lurching to his feet and into the fray. After 3? 4? 5? (like any good night in a bar the number grows hazy) of these melees we played beer keg keep-away, and in another battle the town constables showed up to make us pay our tabs and we had to fight our way past them out of the bar which of course (in classic bar-room brawl movie mode).prompted His Excellency Duncan and I to grab a table between us and run right at the line of constables. Unlike in the movies, however, the constable used his sword to club the good guy (me, of course) to the ground in a heap.

The fighting wound up with enough time to relax for a while before the feast. I lay in the cool grass chatting and enjoying the perfect weather the group was blessed with. As we had to be out of the park by sundown, the feast was held early, but no one seemed to mind - especially since the feast was included free in the $5 site fee. The group had a large period pavilion (perhaps 20' x 50') for the feast hall, with a dozen hand made wooden tables to feast upon. A couple more tables of feasters sat in the permanent shelter some 15-20 feet away.

Now frankly I did not really expect a huge feast. With paying for the site, and the port-a-johns, I was not sure how much money was left to pay for the food out of the small $5 site fee. But there was a ton of food - good food. They started with an apple compote, and a fresh baked-on-site-and-still-warm soda bread with garlic butter. The bread was spectacular. I ate as much of it as I could convince our table to spare even after our server brought more. Then I prowled the length of the hall begging more from the slow to eat tables. This was followed by a salad, a been dish (6 or 7 kinds of beans with bacon, ground beef, and more in a sort of baked beanish feel), 2 different stews (one broth based one tomato based) with carrots, beef and potatoes, chicken and dumpling, and a couple different flavors of cobbler for desert - and I'm likely missing something. No one could possibly have gone home hungry.

During the feast they presented the many prizes for the days activities. Each winner received a etched glass beer mug with a Gryphon's head upon it, and a wooden plaque with a Blackfox style illustration and text indicating the event, and what activity it commemorated.

The night wound up with a post revel at Lord Wayne of the Heights home, where merriment, and the event's bardic competition ensued. It was a light hearted mood, and the first bardic competition I have ever seen won by a heckler (Galen) by popular acclaim.

Overall this small group put on one hell of an event - if you missed it, I can promise you, "You missed some serious fun."

Fernando