Kris Kinder is a notable SCA event out here in the Kansas City area that is almost as period an event as you can get: shopping. While I am peripherally aware that there were secret-squirrel meetings for guilds and orders and peerages and court and other SCAdian-y stuff going on behind the scenes; from a layman’s perspective Kris Kinder’s just a big flea-market.
Sure, in period people gathered for court and for tournaments and for ceremonial events, but people love buying things and I can’t imagine that’s a modern concept. If the Sears catalog from the 1920s and 30s is any indication, people were keen to buy even when the country was struggling through a depression so nasty they called it great with a capital D.
I had been to a Kris Kinder years ago, and it was at a different location. I like this location better, from what I can remember of the other one. I remember not finding much of anything there last time, or at least nothing that really appealed to me. As is typical with large markets there’s a lot of people who just sell… stuff. And they go wherever they can, with whatever tenuous veneer they can manage to fit in, so they can sell more of there stuff. Renaissance Festivals are like this too, though the worst are things like “Irish Fest” and other themed-events in public parks where there’s no living history / reenactment / reconstructionist culture involved in the organization of the event at all.
But this event is put on by the SCA, so it’s really not that bad. Well timed too. I’m certain the early December time-slot was intentionally picked for prime holiday-gift spending. There were diamonds in the rough for me, despite being particular. I think what makes it so difficult for me to find things that really interest me at events like this is because I do what all the living history folks say to do: pick a narrow time frame, region, culture, and social class when developing an impression. It’s good advice, as it’s easier to keep your appearance cohesive and concurrent with itself that way. It also means that events like Kris Kinder, which sells everything from the Viking and early Anglo-Saxon time frame to Elizabethan; trying to find stuff in authentic materials and constructions specifically for an English gentleman of 1396-1420 precludes most of available wares at the event.
But it was still fun! For all the vendors jilted by my pickiness, there are lots and lots of people in SCA and outside of it who want and need the things they sell, so it’s important to have access to them at events like this. Also, I jump on any excuse I can find to dress up in my garb and strut around.
Got to eat a turkey leg, no more authentic at a SCA event than a Renaissance Festival; but just as delicious. I don’t make it out to Guild practice as often as I should, or want to, so it’s nice to hang out with my Guild family. Plus, even if the pickings are small, window shopping is a fun pastime and lots of the stuff at Kris Kinder was fun to look at, even if just to look at. Being a large market type event there is also merchandise that isn’t necessarily historically related at all. A woman there was selling blown glass bead pendants in geeky themes.
And, though pickings were slim, there were pickings! I got myself a belt pouch to replace the one I’ve been wearing. My primary mission at Kris Kinder was to find a replacement that was affordable, looked good, and could be worn with a rondel dagger. My dream pouch, which I’m saving up for, is this Purse, but I paid about half as much for this little gem below.
Having a simple, unadorned pouch will serve me well both as a stop gap and as a “rough and tumble” pouch. I have a post that I haven’t finished just yet explaining my thoughts in length on the subject of settling vs. making “for now” purchases, but the basic idea is that the pouch I have been using isn’t authentic for the outfit I wear, nor does it have the cut and design to be worn the way I want (in front of my dagger.) Replacing it with something that, in form and function, is more authentic even if it isn’t exactly 100% what I want is worth setting my Goubitz Purse saving’s budget back $40. Also, I can wear this pouch in situations that would be hazardous to a finely made item, which mirrors one of the virtues of the Lord of Battles belt that I reviewed.
I also found a stunning little brooch that fit right into my jewelry budget (if you told my 19 year old self I’d have a jewelry budget in 10 years he’d laugh at you) from North Star Armory, who make some very sharp looking jewelry, clasps, and reproduction accessories. I remember seeing his stuff at Lillies years and years back, and liking it.
As for this beauty, I’m going to see if I can manage to get it on my felt bycocket, though that hat has been shrunk and stretched so many times over the last few years that it is fairly inelastic now and barely fits my head. I’m not confident I can get enough material through to get over the brooch pin. Maybe I’ll pick up a replacement blank and put the brooch on as part of shaping it. Maybe I’ll just wear it on my hood’s mantle. However I wear it, I’m very excited I have it. The likelihood that I’d buy something like this without handling it first, such as off an website, is low, which is why Kris Kinder type events are so important.
Because of my lackluster experience at my previous Kris Kinder, I went mostly for the social experience. I am glad to report that this year changed my mind about the event. I can see why lots of people commute seemingly foolishly long distances to attend; going so far as spending the weekend with friends or in hotels just to be able to go. My hat’s off to them, as I’m not sure I would do the same just for the shopping (though, I suppose, it would be different if I were invested in the meetings that were going on). My only big cautionary point is that, besides shopping, there isn’t really much to do. And while I realize that’s kind of the point, it made taking a kid somewhat difficult, since there’s no structured events to occupy them.
So kids get bored, and misbehave, or invent ways to entertain themselves. To whoever was inconvenienced by my daughter demanding the password to the sales floor, my apologies: I stopped it as quickly as I noticed she was doing it. Eventually a group of kids fed up with watching their parents ogle over knick knacks and baubles formed a little gang in the hallway. As is typical with children, when they coalesce in groups it generally results in a lot of nonsensical running around and yelling. Someone provided them a sheet and some chairs, so there was a fort for a while. It wasn’t a total disaster. As is, I’m thankful it’s close enough to be convenient for me. We came late and left early, and even that was almost too much for my kiddo. I can’t imagine how stir crazy the weekender’s progeny were.
I would like to extend my thanks and congratulations to Sir Gustav Jameson and Allison of Forgotten Sea for putting on a successful event. Special commendation to Her Excellency Almedha of Anglesey who coordinated the merchants; as much as I want more die-hard authentic merchants I can’t deny that the event as a whole had a very decent blend of bar setters / stuff people will buy / stuff people can afford with minimal schlock. To the staff who held the gates, collected the cash, filed the paperwork, set up tables, cleaned up the site when we all left: your work is noticed and appreciated, even if I wasn’t there to tell you that directly. Your labors may not be seen, but they’re not forgotten nor are they taken for granted. An equal level of thanks goes out to the vendors who came down to participate, for who a shopping event would be far less interesting without. Finally, I want to thank the weather for being cold so that I had an excuse to wear a cloak without dying of heat-stroke.
If you didn’t go this year, don’t miss it December 9th, 2017.
Thank you to everyone who worked to make Kris Kinder a success:
Lady Caitilin ingen Aengusa
Lady Ki no Kotori
Mistress Svana Lutusdottir
Her Ladyship Emma
Riddari Snorri Bjornsson
ACount Agamemnon Platylithodae
Lord Finán mac Crimthainn
Mistress Aidan Cocrinn
Dutchess Ariel of Glastonbury Tor
Mistress Brialen Ulfsdottir Vikings
Lord Hugo van Harlo of the Magnificent Hat
Lady Katherine d’Arles
Mistress Maren þorskabítr
His lordship Alric Upplendingr