Where Do Knights, Goblins and Elves go to play? The park.

Each Sunday at noon, a group of combatants take over Nashville’s Elmington Park and battles until sundown. These fighters are part of a combat group called Dur Demarion.

Dur Demarion's master archer Brian Parton (Kurn) aims at his next target. *Photo by Etta Petersen
Dur Demarion’s master archer Brian Parton aims at his next target. *Photo by Etta Petersen

Dur Demarion is a faction within the national fighting organization Belegarth. Belgarth shouldn’t be confused with LARPing: Though both involve fighting and roleplaying, LARPing involves the use of magic and spells during battle, while Belegarth does not.

Left to right: Charlie Nelson - Tandaar; Keith Cameron - Blixxx
Charlie Nelson (left) and Keith Cameron (right) clash on the field. *Photo by Etta Petersen

Yvonne Agostinho, who also goes by her character name Ora, is Dur Demarion’s lore master, or historian. She got her daughter involved with the organization as soon as she was born.

“The instant she was released from the hospital, I asked my husband, ‘Want to go to the field?’ Agostinho said. “We showed her off.”

Zack Jordan swipes his adversary. *Photo by Etta Petersen
Zack Jordan swipes his adversary. *Photo by Etta Petersen

Despite the serious atmosphere on the battlefield, the sidelines are filled with children and spectators enjoying the scene. The fighters welcome anyone interested, whether it’s just to chat or swing a sword.

“You should definitely come out and learn.” said Maylon Hill, who has been involved with Dur Demarion for 16 years. On the field, Hill plays a Belegarthian Knight named Zwolf.

Derek Brown (left) and Maylon Hill (right) charge the field!
Derek Brown (left) and Maylon Hill (right) charge the field! *Photo by Etta Petersen

“It’s a great outlet.” said Hill. “It’s the best stress relief I’ve ever had.”

Dur Demarion welcomes all ages to come out and join the battle.

“It’s great for young people.” Agostinho said. “They aren’t sitting inside rolling dice at a table. They’re outside getting fresh air.”

John Rogers retires to the sidelines after battle. *Photo by Etta Petersen
John Rogers retires to the sidelines after battle. *Photo by Etta Petersen

Because Dur Demarion is such a unique organization, it can be met with some confusion.

“We get a bad rep from people who don’t understand.” Agostinho said. “They just see a bunch of people hitting each other with sticks.”

Left to right: Brian Partin - Kurn; Michael Briley - Kato; Keith Cameron - Blixxx
Left to right: Brian Partin (left) and Michael Briley  (middle) face each other in battle while Keith Cameron closes in. *Photo by Etta Petersen

If someone is interested in understanding Dur Demarion’s fighting techniques, they are welcome to come out to the park on Sundays to try out the gear.

“We have tons of loaner equipment,” said Nathan Larkin, a three-year fighter who also goes by his character name Vander. “As long as you swing a weapon once, you’ll want to come back.”

And one need not worry about safety on the field. Each piece of equipment involved with Dur Demarion has specific guidelines it must meet before someone is allowed to use it on the battleground.

“It doesn’t matter how pretty your sword is,” Larkin said, “I’m not going to let you hit me with something that’s not safe.”

Ian Nichols shows off his gear.
Ian Nichols shows off his gear. *Photo by Etta Petersen

It’s also recommended that those interested wait to invest in equipment for their character, as clothing and weapons can run anywhere from $20 to $100.

“When I buy personal-made stuff, I have to consider it a dress outfit.” Larkin said.

Belegarth meets at Elmington Park Sundays at noon, and it fights until dark. The organization is free, and all are welcome, whether it be to watch, talk, or de-stress by smacking someone with a sword.

Left to right: Caroline Garrett - Civetta; Gee Rad - G-Rad; Brian Partin - Kurn; Corey Villasana - Phoenix
Left to right: Caroline Garrett; Gee Rad; Brian Partin; Corey Villasana. Caroline Garrett owes her life to Dur Demarion. A fellow fighter helped her escape an abusive relationship. *Photo by Etta Petersen

The group’s one requirement: Come with an open mind.

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