A group of historical enthusiasts in Nakusp are hoping their love of the past has a future.
The Nakusp Medieval Society is holding its annual general meeting this coming weekend to attract new blood to the group.
“We have been dormant,” says Pam O’Neil, a founding member of the NMS. “The people we have involved now are burnt out.”
The society started about three years ago, when O’Neil and NMS President Daniel Abraham began talking about the possibilities while working at the Nakusp Youth Centre.
That talk resulted in the Society putting on a medieval fair, and with the help of the neighbouring chapters of the Society for Creative Anachronism, fairs were held in 2015 and 2016.
With craftspeople, jousting tournaments, knights in armour and period music, the events were a great success, says O’Neil. But even then there was strain between hard-core historical re-creationists, and more inclusive, just-for-fun participants.
“The SCA are used to being close-knit, not doing things so much for the public,” she says. “It was sort of difficult for us to have tickets and have just anybody come, they started to dislike the idea of people wandering in, they’re not used to the idea.”
“Whereas we wanted to create an environment where anyone could feel they could take part.”
The different visions, and the gigantic effort of putting on the fair, made the Society decide not to hold a festival in 2017. That started a downward spiral, says O’Neil. The Society has seen active membership drop from about 20 a year ago to about nine people at the last meeting, held in January.
“When we first started, we said ‘buy the membership and you can get these things at the fair,” she says. “Once there was no fair, people didn’t want to buy memberships.”
O’Neil says the upcoming AGM will see if there’s enough interest in holding a fair again this year, and if there are people willing to step up to take positions on the executive.
She says people who buy memberships will also be asked to vote on just what form the society will take — if it should adopt an even wider view on re-creating history.
“We may try to revamp, and become a historical re-creational group, where we can re-create any era — Victorian, Renaissance, or the 30s for example,” she says. Instead of strictly medieval, they could have a different theme every year.
“Or maybe we should just focus on one thing, like jousting,” she says. “That was a huge hit. People loved it. So maybe we focus on just one or two activities instead of spreading our energy over a whole range of events. Try to narrow it down.
“That’s what we’d like members to vote on at the AGM,” she says. “We just want to get people excited again.”
No matter what, O’Neil says the Society will still do some creative demonstrations next Canada Day, the way members did last year.
The AGM is being held at the Old Firehall from 7-10 p.m. on February 16th.