Ohhh never say role playing to an SCA person! LOL!! Or compare them with Ren Folk. Very different groups. RenFaires also have fantasy stuff like elves, fairies etc. That stuff is never allowed at SCA events.
It is a lot of fun especially camping out. In the evening you can go to any campfire and there will be bards telling stories or dancing or eating or a lot of drinking.
They keep the 'period' camping separate from the mundane camping so that you can walk about the pavilions and yurts and get a feeling of really being back there. Of course there are modern things around the events but they try to keep it as period as possible and still be fun.
They even have what is called 'Gold Key' for visitors so they can dress up in tunics/medieval clothes and wander about the event. Otherwise it's very frowned on for the public to just come walking in regular clothes. That's another thing that makes it different from a RenFaire.
I haven't done much the last couple of years but am looking forward to getting back into it this fall.
The fall season is the feasting season. But I tell you eating authentic medieval food can give you a bad case of the poopies!