COLUMBIA, S.C. – En garde! Swordfest is coming! And there’s little time left to draw your cold blade. It will be here on Saturday, Feb. 10!
If you don’t know what SwordFest is, you need to look into hearing aids – how could you have missed the schwinging, swooshing and clanging? It’s the biggest, loudest Saturday program at the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum each year. So be warned: An army of strangely dressed, sword-swinging characters are on the march, and will soon descend on the city with serious fun on their minds.
Joe Long, curator of education at the museum, says final preparations are nearly complete, and most of the “big draws” are returning. Here’s the schedule as it now stands:
9:55 a.m. – The action opens with the formation of a Sword Arch by members of the Columbia High Junior ROTC.
10:00 – Welcome and introduction.
10:15 – McAuley Broadsword Youth Demonstration Team: South Carolina’s own historic style, as practiced by 19th century militia.
10:30 – Carolina Historical Fencing: CHF recreates the fighting techniques of past centuries with a variety of blades!
11:00 – Iaido, the Art of Sword-Drawing. Dan Bernardo of WellWithin Martial Arts will demonstrate a traditional Japanese sword art with a live cutting demonstration with a samurai sword.
11:30 – Columbia Fencing Club: the fast-moving modern sport of fencing, as seen in Olympic competitions, also thrives locally! See how the champions train!
12:15 p.m. – Swords of the Jedi. The Aiken Saber Club will put on a display of a recreational form of swordplay, inspired by the Star Wars universe. This includes demonstrations of choreographed lightsaber dueling.
1:00 – Cavalry Saber Historian Neil Rose will demonstrate how Wade Hampton’s cavalry employed the saber at Gettysburg.
1:30 – Pirates! Theatrical dueling in the classic style, by members of the Charles Towne Few!
2:00 – Palmetto Knights Steel Combat Team: armored knights and their fighting techniques.
All sorts of associated items will be on display. Oh, and don’t forget – the museum itself has a huge array of swords, from those used in combat in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, to a 400-year-old samurai sword captured by an American soldier at Iwo Jima! During this event, you can check out the museum for free.
Come on and have some real, educational fun!
About the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum
Founded in 1896, the South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum is an accredited museum focusing on South Carolina’s distinguished martial tradition through the Revolutionary War, Mexican War, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, Vietnam, the War on Terror, and other American conflicts. It serves as the state’s military history museum by collecting, preserving, and exhibiting South Carolina’s military heritage from the colonial era to the present, and by providing superior educational experiences and programming. It recently opened a major new exhibit, “A War With No Front Lines: South Carolina and the Vietnam War, 1965-1973." The museum is located at 301 Gervais St. in Columbia, sharing the Columbia Mills building with the State Museum. For more information, go to https://crr.sc.gov/.
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