Quite a weekend. A real Viking weekend, in the sense that a real Viking weekend consists of unloading a heavy boat, dragging it and carrying all its cargo over a Russian portage, and then loading it all up again. I’ll stipulate that the real Vikings were stronger than me and worked harder, but it was a pretty grueling time for an old man who lives by the keyboard.
The Viking Age Club and Society was invited to set up an encampment at the Isanti County Fair in Cambridge, Minnesota (not to be confused with Cambridge, England, which had its own Viking problems a thousand years ago). The local Sons of Norway lodge, known as Rumelva (Rum River) Lodge, invited us to come, bring our Viking boat, and set up for the public. They paid good money for our presence, and provided generous help in getting us set up and torn down.
They also wanted Viking fights. As it turned out, only one of the young fighters was available that weekend. Which meant that, as it takes two to tango, an old fighter had to step into the gap. And that old fighter was me.
I can’t complain about the results. I won most of my matches, against a young man recently out of the military. Of course it helped that I was wearing full armor for the first set – helmet, gambeson, mail shirt, and fighting gloves. (Omitted the mail the second time around.) And he had only helmet and gloves.
But it was hot. And humid. Adrenaline took me through the fights, but afterward I was fairly well drained – literally. I’d brought a good supply of water, and I drank it all up. Added some salt too. Even begged some potato chips off the nice ladies at the food stand. And I took a little nap in the Viking bed we had in one of the tents in between bouts.
I’m too old and fat for that kind of nonsense.
On the other hand, if I’d died on the field of honor, I’d be revered by every reenactor in the world. So there’s that. No downside, really.
I sold a fair number of books. Not great, but it could have been worse. Traffic was kind of disappointing – the lodge people said they’d been promised advertising that never happened. More than one person happened by and was surprised to learn there were Vikings there at all.
Still, it was a stimulating weekend, one I won’t soon forget. I hope the Rumelva Lodge people don’t regret their investment in us. I’ll do it again next year if we’re invited.
But I hope younger men will do the fighting.