Your-1st-Evnt-art - 7/15/12
"Going to your 1st Event " by Lady Alison Wodehalle.
This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.
While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
Going to your 1st Event
by Lady Alison Wodehalle
Events are what we do everything else for, choosing garb, learning fighting or other skills, so that we can go and pretend that we are in the Middle Ages for a day or a weekend. For some people an event is the first time they have contact with the SCA, for others they have attended several meetings and practices before ever going to an event. Neither way is more or less correct than the other.
Types of events
You will have more fun at your first event, if you do a little reading first. There are some things to know before you go to an event. The obvious first thing to consider is which type of event to go to. Most events have a theme, sometimes there will be more than one type of theme or activity available. Some are classroom or teaching events, and are called "scholas" or "collegiums". These can include a very wide variety of topics on any of the activities offered within the SCA. There are also events which are mostly geared to fighting, such as Southern Region Spring War Practice, or Crown Tourney. Some events are mostly about archery, or cooking, or costuming. And some are mostly ceremonial in nature, such as Coronation. Then there are the events that combine activities like Kingdom Crusades (which is a border war between the East and Atlantia) where fighting takes place alongside of classes, and is followed by the great court of Atlantia and the East. The event announcement will state the theme or the activities that are available at that event, and in the East Kingdom these are found in the kingdom newsletter, as well as on-line at the kingdom’s website.
Some events are designated as a Royal Progress, which is an event the King or the Queen, or both, will be attending. On the EK website, a royal progress is noted with a gold crown next to the event announcement. The events with the silver crown are ones which the "Heirs" (prince and princess) will be attending. Generally court occurs at these events and that usually means awards will be given out, perhaps someone you know will be a recipient (see the section on court). The things to be aware of are that it is likely to be a busier event that usual. If the Royals cross your path, it is polite to show deference and bow or curtsey, and they are addressed as "Your Majesty". There is no reason to be shy of attending a Royal Progress, the pomp and circumstance can make it great fun!
Special thoughts for Newcomers
While you are trying to decide which event, consider that if you have not yet met many people it may be somewhat boring to go to an event that does not have a schedule of activities. This is because at these events people gather in garb to work on small projects and chat with each other, and usually to enjoy some food. Since events are meant to attract attendees from throughout the kingdom, the hosting group will expect to see unfamiliar faces, they will not automatically know that you are new, and they may be busy with the chores of running the event. So people may not make a point of introducing themselves and helping you to get started. For some people being new is less difficult because they are comfortable approaching strangers to start a conversation, for many others it is not easy.
There some ways of dealing with getting to know people. The things that work best are going to practices and meetings beforehand so that you will know a few people before you arrive at the event. Choose an event that is primarily classes. By choosing an event that is a schola or collegium you will be able meet the people in your classes in a small group setting, you will learn more about the SCA, have a place to be, and something to do. Classes of any type are a good beginning event.. Also events featuring activities for which you have already been attending practices, would also make a good first event. Lastly, the best answer is to get involved!!! Offer assistance in the kitchen (just go to the door of the kitchen ask to be put to work), they can ALWAYS use more help, you will get to know some of the people, and they will welcome and respect your contribution. Introduce yourself as a newcomer and ask people what they are wearing, what they are working on, what the various badges they are wearing mean, etc. It is a good way to start a conversation, and you will learn more about the SCA.
Read the event announcement carefully. Look for all the details about the schedule, about what is allowed at this event such as pets or alcohol, and about the fee structure. Check the location carefully to make certain it is a place you can get to. When you decide on an event, read the section in the announcement on registering for it. Pre-registration is a good idea, particularly if there is a feast that you would like to attend, since many feasts sell out in advance. However, if you will not be attending the feast or if there isn’t one, it is usually OK to arrive that day and register at the gate. You will need to sign a waiver, for yourself and any minor children that are with you, unless you are member and have a blue card (which signifies that the SCA has a waiver on file for you). If you are not a member, you will be paying a surcharge along with your entry fee. Children owe this surcharge when the fee for children is the SAME as for adults, and the child is NOT a member. Most events will require a separate waiver be signed for each minor attending that event.
What to bring:
Directions to the event.
Identification (photo ID)
SCA Membership cards
Garb (you can dress before leaving home, or use the changing room when you arrive)
Cloak, if you will not be leaving until the evening
Pouch or basket, or some means of carrying your "stuff"
Possibly a pen/pencil and a tablet
Money, in case you owe fees at the gate, or you would like to shop at the merchants, or to pay small fees at classes such as for handouts, or kits (the teachers are volunteers also, no one is covering the cost of supplies for them).
Something to occupy yourself if you have downtime.
On board, off board, and dayboard
These terms can be confusing and you will see these words as part of the fee schedule on the event announcements. The term "board" is old terminology in which a table laden with food was referred to as a "board" or sometimes as a "groaning board" if the amounts of food are great. This comes from the style of table often used in the Middle Ages, in which a board over two fancy "sawhorses" served as the table. This allowed them to completely dismantle and move the table when the meal was over to allow for dancing and other merriments.
In the SCA, "on board" means that you will be staying for feast and paying the fee for feast. "Off board" of course means the opposite, you will not be sharing feast. Both of those terms refer primarily to the evening meal. Dayboard is the mid-day meal or sometimes more like hearty snacks. Usually dayboard is included in the site fee. Whether or not a dayboard is provided will be in the event announcement, as well as whether it is included in the site fee.
So you have decided to attend feast and see what happens there. You need to prepare a little in advance. First, you need "feast gear" since it is not generally supplied by the event. It was normal for travelers in the Middle Ages to carry with them their own knife, spoon, and possibly trencher (like a plate). We follow that custom for many reasons. It looks more period to have a variety of feast gear on the table. It is a LOT of work to put on a feast, and that saves the staff (who also paid to attend the event) from sorting out, cleaning, and making sure they have enough plates, knives, etc to go around. What you need are the basics to set a place at the table, and many people bring more than the basics. Do not invest much money at first, gather basics, then slowly decide on what or how to upgrade. Here is a list to help you choose things that you might want to bring.
mug for water or juice
glass for wine (or ceramic cup that would not break easily)
knife, spoon, and fork (forks were not used until very late period through much of Europe)
matches or lighter
table cloth or placemat
basket or bag to carry it all in
extra bowl for "slop" (leftovers to clear off your plate between courses)
serving spoon so that neither you nor your table mates need to put into the community dish, forks and spoons you have been eating from.
paper towels to clean up with
large plastic bag to place dirty dishes in to take home to clean
Consider bringing something you enjoy drinking. There are usually pitchers of something to drink available but it may not be to your taste.
If it is not a "dry site", then you may also bring wine, or mead, etc. with you to have for dinner, within the limits of the mundane laws.
When you arrive at the event, ask about the "seating chart." It is often available at the gate as you troll in. This chart will be a layout of the tables as they will be set for the feast. There will be spaces for individuals to sign up for where they want to sit. If this is your first feast, feel free to ask for help finding good table mates. Most tables at SCA feasts seat 8-10 people, and so most likely you will have company at your table. Sometimes the seating chart is not available until later in the day, but they will be able to tell you that at Troll. Sign up early to make sure your party is able to sit together.
Most feasts have 3-4 courses, lasting 2-3 hours. The food usually is served on a large platter to the whole table, which is then passed to each person until everyone has a chance to have a portion. At first take a small amount. You may not like the dish, in which case you do not want to have to throw a lot away, and if you do like the dish, opportunities for second servings can be taken after everyone has had a first serving. Because there are so many courses, it is assumed that individual portions will be small, and if you eat a lot during the first course you will not be able to enjoy the remaining courses. Sometimes the host provides entertainment during the feast, between removes.
If you or anyone attending with you has any food allergies, forward the allergy concerns to the head cook when you pre-register for the event and for feast. Most event announcements will have a notation about who to contact for information related to feast. At the event, you can ask to see a list of ingredients. The list should be available at most events. Sometimes a harried head cook may not have had the time to write it down in advance. Feel free to ask to speak with the cooks and explain what your allergy is, and ask if any of those ingredients will be in the feast.
When this article was written, Lady Alison was the East Kingdom Chatelaine.
Copyright 2012 by Alison Choyce. <Greenfaere at gmail.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.