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As Tace mentioned, nothing says you have to play with the group closest to you.  When people have several close groups they may play with all of them or mainly with the one that most fits their interests in the SCA. Some groups are mainly fighters, others have more of a service or A&S interest.  If, as seems might be the case, there are really no close groups near you, you might find some useful tidbits in this Florilegium file in the SCA-INC section:
sprd-out-grps-msg (12K) 5/ 3/10 Handling SCA groups spread over a large area
http://www.florilegium.org/files/SCA-INC/sprd-out-grps-msg.html

If there are some other folks interested in the SCA in your area, you might wish to consider forming your own household and at least car pooling to other nearby events. Personally, unless you have substantially more folks than the minimum to form a canton, I would not do so. Playing musical chairs just to keep the minimum number of officer positions filled will burn you out. This is possibly what happened to the previous Dubuque group. I've seen it happen more than once.

As a 25+ year SCAdian and one interested in SCA Sociology, I would love to hear Tace's comments on the differences between Northshield and Calontir. For others, see the Florilegium SCA SOCIOLOGY section. :-)

I think, now that the kingdom newsletters are available electronically (to all paid members?), it is much easier to keep up with what events are going on in your area, even if they aren't in your kingdom. In my case, in the middle of Ansteorra, the closest kingdom border is 5 hours away. :-)

Borrow some SCA armor and see if you like hitting, and getting hit in it, before you spend a lot of money buying or making armor. You might also see if you can pick up some armor used. Maybe not what you really want, but it will give you a chance to try different styles and see what you really like before spending hundreds (or more) dollars on armor. And yes, there is a COMBAT section in the Florilegium. :-)

It's too late for you to fight at this years Pennsic, but you are so close, you might want to see if you can make it next year, even if you are just attending and not fighting there. (Wish I could go this year, but for medical reasons, I can't. :-( )

Stefan

On Jul 15, 2013, at 4:12 PM, Tace of Foxele <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Jeffrey,
> 
> Culture is something you really have to experience for yourself.  I've lived in three different kingdoms and visited a few others, and found Calontir unique in the openness and friendliness. One thing about Dubuque is that it is very easy to visit different kingdoms--Madison is in Northshield, or you can visit the group in the Quad Cities (Dark River) which is in the Midrealm. Both are an easy drive from Dubuque.
> 
> --Tace
> 
> 
> On Mon, Jul 15, 2013 at 3:06 AM, <Franz Johann Gottskrieger> <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Funny thing: you don't need your own gear to fight. Many places will have loaner gear for people just starting. I authorized twice in borrowed gear, and fought Pennsic in a set cobbled together by several people from their extra bits.
> 
> Franz
> 
> 
> 
> On Jul 14, 2013, at 11:40 PM, jeffery vitale <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 
> > mite try for the cross and compass event.. mite depends on if i can get gear together etc.

--------
THLord Stefan li Rous    Barony of Bryn Gwlad    Kingdom of Ansteorra
   Mark S. Harris           Austin, Texas          [log in to unmask]
http://www.linkedin.com/in/marksharris
**** See Stefan's Florilegium files at:  http://www.florilegium.org ****