Tim Fuerstenberg and Garfield Matson dressed in medieval clothing and occupied a tent filled with painted benches, replicas of old coins, scrolls, chainmail and other items. Children and adults filtered through, learning about the old days.
The two reenactors also made sure it was fun for everyone. Fuerstenberg, from St. Cloud, said the best part was helping the children make their own chainmail. Chainmail is formed by spinning a thick metal wire onto a rod and cutting it into small rings. The rings are then linked together in a pattern forming a protective shirt used for battle.
"You see the kids get all excited," he said.
The tent, one of several, located at the Runestone Museum June 28-29 and was an invitation to take part in History Live! at Fort Alexandria. Other activities that museum goers could partake in were seeing impersonators such as Teddy Roosevelt, Civil War soldiers, pioneers, fur traders and more. Butter making was available for viewing, as well as fire starting demonstrations, music making, wool spinning and more.
Fuerstenberg doesn't consider himself a scholar. He doesn't have a bachelor's degree in history like Matson. However, he said he takes part in historical role playing because he enjoys learning and doing things.
The two are part of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a non-profit living history group focused on studying and recreating mainly Medieval European cultures, pre-17th century.
Their specific chapter is based in St. Cloud. Matson, from Stillwater, joined the group because he had an interest in history and wanted to combat barbaric Norwegian stereotypes that he'd heard for years, some of which he'd heard from his father. Matson is Norwegian.
Fuerstenberg and Matson agreed they're not good actors. "We're not putting on a show," Fuerstenberg said. He said what they're doing is mainly teaching.
The reenactors at History Live! are volunteers who have a love for learning something new.
"It's something you don't normally see," Fuerstenberg said. He enjoys picking a name, picking a culture and jumping into a persona.
Matson said the only challenge he came across at History Live! was tackling the sun. "I don't handle heat very well anymore."
Maria Waggoner came to History Live! with her two children, ages 7 and 10. The family is from Alexandria and was driving by the museum when they saw the event going on.
"It's something to do; they just really wanted to go," she said.
Waggoner and her children watched the Ojibwe life and fire steel demonstrations. The reenactor had a piece of dry tinder, a natural fiber. She showed the group how to add friction to get the tinder to smoke, and then had the viewers blow on it until the fiber caught fire.
Waggoner said the fire demonstration and looking at arrowheads were some of the most educational experiences. The best part was "getting an appreciation for history and how we can do things in a different way."