Just when you thought it was safe to go out without your sword and shield, SwordFest is back, yet again, at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum.
Come on out – admission is free. SwordFest 2023 starts at 10 a.m. and runs until at least 3 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 11.
The peace of our city will again be disturbed by clanging and swishing of every kind imaginable – and for the sixth time! And if you’ve been to SwordFest before, you know this isn’t your average historical uprising of swordfighters. It’s more like every kind of bladed weaponry all coming at you at once. But without harmful intent, of course.
This year, the annual event will feature the following, and more:
The Roman IX Legion will be there, with each legionnaire of the re-enactment group wielding his own gladius or spatha.
Iaido, the Japanese art of sword-drawing, will be demonstrated, thanks to Dan Bernardo of WellWithin in Columbia.
You’ll be able to see how Wade Hampton’s 19th-century South Carolina cavalrymen used their sabers.
And fiction – science fiction – will mix with history, when the Aiken Saber Club demonstrates how it was hypothetically done a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away – with lightsabers.
The Aikido group will show you how Japanese swordsmen can be disarmed – which might come in handy someday.
Gentlemen in shining armor will appear, known as the Palmetto Knights Steel Combat Team.
And something new: practitioners of Kendo, a fast-moving modern sport practiced in protective gear with bamboo swords.
And of course, as always, kids will have the chance to practice their own techniques – with safe “swords” made of foam, of course.
You’ll also be able to see the real, historical thing, by checking out the swords in the museum’s extensive collection.
And more, as we said – the schedule is still growing as the event approaches. And it’s all free!
So is admission to the museum itself – which makes this a prime opportunity to visit our major new exhibit, “A War With No Front Lines: South Carolina and the Vietnam War, 1965-1973.” It fills the 2,500-square-foot Cistern gallery with artifacts and stories brought back by veterans from our state. Whether you’ve seen it before or not, it’s worth coming to learn more about your neighbors’ experiences in that faraway, bitter conflict.