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Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope discusses the ins and outs of running a Kingdom event.

Perhaps you’ve seen the announcements. “The Kingdom Seneschal is looking for a bid for this Kingdom event to be held in Region [number].” Or even “The Kingdom Seneschal hasn’t received any bids for [xyz] Kingdom event and so is opening it to other regions.”

Why are so few people willing to bid on Kingdom events?

Are you an experienced autocrat but intimidated by the idea of running a Kingdom event?

Don’t be!

Here’s a guide to the different types of events run by or for the Kingdom, and what the autocrat’s responsibilities are. You may be surprised to find out how easy running a Kingdom event can be. Keep in mind that it’s perfectly fine for smaller shires to ask nearby groups to contribute staff members, or for multiple shires and baronies to collaborate on a bid. Bids generally go to the Kingdom Seneschal and the Crown, but check below for exceptions. There’s a form to fill out when submitting event bids, located on the Seneschal’s page of the Kingdom website  here. Bids are generally due about 6 months ahead of the event date, so plan ahead!

For more information about running a Kingdom event, read article VIII-100 of Kingdom Law, also available at the link above.

Note: for the purpose of this article, we’ll discuss both “official” Kingdom events and events that are not officially Kingdom events but are often thought of that way. Also, different autocrats may have different opinions on how events should be run. There’s no one right way, and this is not meant as an exhaustive article on how to run events in general.

Crown Tourney Tree

CROWN TOURNAMENT

Believe it or not, Crown Tourney is one of the simplest Kingdom events you can run. That’s because almost all of the activities are run by the Kingdom officers. Traditional dates are in October and May. It rotates among the regions so look for announcements when it’s your region’s turn, but if there are no bids from the desired region by a specified date, it may be thrown open to bids from groups in other regions.

Likely attendance: 150-250

Your responsibilities:

  • A site that can accommodate a tournament with four lists about 20-25 ft square each, plus surrounding pavilions. Call it a total of about 100’ x 100’ space, though you can also have a rectangle with four lists strung out longitudinally. Outdoors is ok, indoor options for fighting are nice but not required. It would be nice if there was an indoor space for non-fighters to escape to in case of inclement weather as well as for court, but some Crowns have been fought at campsites with just pavilions. Showers will make the fighters Very Happy, but they’re not required.
  • List ropes and posts. Check with the Crown in case they choose to bring the Kingdom list fence, but most royalty don’t have the cargo space for it.
  • Cooks to provide a sideboard. If you want to hold a feast too, that’s great, but it’s not required and the vast majority of attendees won’t stay for it. Expect everyone for lunch, but maybe 50-75 for a feast.
  • Space for court. This can be outdoors, but you run the risk of being rained out or, if the tourney runs long, losing the light.
  • Someone to handle reservations and troll.
  • Setup and cleanup crews.
  • Tables, chairs, and a canopy for the MOLs.

Optionally your responsibility, i.e., you could provide these but are not necessarily expected to do so unless requested by the incoming Royalty:

  • Someone to run an A&S display
  • Someone to organize children’s activities
  • Someone to run dancing
  • Musicians for processionals

NOT your responsibility:

  • Running the tourney. The Kingdom provides the MOLs, marshals, and heralds, though your local officers may wish to assist.
  • Any other activities. Our recent fall Crown was an exception because it was AEthelmearc’s 20th Anniversary, but generally, there are no other activities at Crown besides the tourney. People may ask to have A&S things, or the Kingdom Historian might want to put up a display, but even those aren’t typical.

Potential pitfalls:

  • If the weather is bad and you have no indoor fighting space, people will be cranky. At one Crown it rained so much the list field became a quagmire. There was even discussion of moving the remainder of the tourney to an indoor site 40 miles away (!) but eventually House Arindale offered its very large pavilion, and the last few rounds were fought inside the pavilion.
  • The lunch sideboard should be served on the tourney field, if possible, or in a building adjacent to the field. Make sure most or all of the offerings are finger food that fighters and their consorts can grab and dash without needing feast gear. As a courtesy, provide platters of food delivered directly to the Crown, MOLs, Marshals, and Heralds since they may not have time to leave their posts.
  • Appoint someone to take reservations for pavilions to be placed around the list field. Have them collect sizes and make a map so the pavilions don’t end up blocking access to the field or set up so close to the list that there’s no room for spectators.
Tindal Crowns Byron

Augustus Tindal crowns Byron as King of Æthelmearc. Photo by Master Fridrikr Tomasson.

CORONATION

Coronations are more work that Crowns, but still not a huge time investment compared to a local event. The focus is mostly on the two courts – the Last Court of the outgoing monarchs, usually in the morning, followed immediately by the Coronation ceremony, and then the First Court of the new monarchs, usually in the afternoon or evening. Depending on the incoming King and Queen’s desires, there could be other activities. Tournaments and A&S displays/competitions are typical, along with Kingdom History displays. Traditional dates are in April and September.

Likely attendance: 150-300 depending on location and the popularity of the incoming monarchs.

Your responsibilities:

  • A large site, preferably with a pretty or grand hall for court. Medieval-style churches with big sanctuaries are great for this. School auditoriums can work but basketball hoops aren’t great for ambiance so you might need to put more time and resources into decorating the hall if its aesthetics are lacking. At the recent Coronation of Gareth and Juliana, the Shire of Ballachlagan put up banners, wall hangings, and faux stone sheets to improve the looks of the gym where court was held.
  • If the royalty want to hold a tournament (or two, or more), then you need indoor or outdoor space for the lists. Especially at spring Coronations, when the weather is more likely to be an issue, an indoor fighting option is desirable.
  • Cooks to provide a sideboard and a feast. While it’s likely that fewer than half of the attendees will stay for the feast, it should be a somewhat grand feast with multiple removes.
  • Someone to handle reservations and troll.
  • Setup and cleanup crews.
  • Tables, chairs, and a canopy for the MOLs if there are martial activities.
  • Space for any other activities the Crown requests.

Optionally your responsibility, i.e., you could provide these but are not necessarily expected to do so unless requested by the incoming Royalty:

  • Someone to run an A&S display/competition
  • Someone to organize children’s activities
  • Someone to run dancing
  • Musicians for processionals
  • Marshals and MOLs for tourneys – you may be asked to provide these, but it’s more likely the Earl Marshal or the Kingdom marshals in charge of various areas, along with the Kingdom MOL, will handle them

NOT your responsibility:

  • Heralds for court, though your local herald may wish to participate as a second.

Potential pitfalls:

  • Incoming royalty usually want their Coronation close to home, so groups nearest them are likely to be preferred.
  • The incoming royalty choose their Coronation site soon after winning Crown, which means you have a very brief window in which to assemble a bid.
  • Make sure to provide separate royalty rooms for the outgoing and incoming monarchs. One won’t be big enough to accommodate all of them and their retinues. Unlike other events with both the Crown and Heirs in attendance, the Prince and Princess will have a significant entourage and need space to sign scrolls just like the King and Queen.
  • If possible, find a site with multiple rooms. A hall that has nothing but one big room will make it difficult to run multiple activities, hard to walk around, and noisy to the point of overwhelming for some people.
  • Attendance can be highly variable for multiple reasons. Make sure your lunch cooks have a menu that can stretch and a backup plan for getting more food if more people than expected show up.

20171028_163602

KINGDOM ARTS & SCIENCES CHAMPS

Another relatively easy event to run, this requires only indoor space and tables for the artisans to display their entries. The artisans bring their entries and documentation and sit with them during the day while the judges rotate through the entrants and discuss their entries face-to-face. A “wet” site is preferred to allow for brewing entries. This event is often on the smaller side so the site doesn’t need to be huge. Contact the Kingdom Minister of Arts & Sciences for more information. Traditional dates are in the spring and fall.

Likely attendance: 75-125 depending on location.

Your responsibility:

  • A large room or multiple rooms with plenty of tables and chairs. Expect 15-30 entrants. The Kingdom A&S Minister also needs a table for registration and scoring.
  • A lunch sideboard. A feast is nice not but required.
  • Space for court. This could be a separate hall in the site or the same room as the competition, but with the tables put away.
  • Someone to handle reservations and troll.
  • Setup and cleanup crews
  • Tables, chairs, and a canopy for the MOLs if there are martial activities.

Optionally your responsibility:

  • If you have the ability to host martial activities as well as the A&S competition, that’s nice, but not required or expected. Remember that the focus should stay on the A&S entries.
  • Children’s activities.
  • Outdoor space for A&S activities that might be dangerous or dirty; e.g. metalcasting, forging, dying, etc.

NOT your responsibility:

  • Judges, scoresheets, etc. are all provided by the Kingdom A&S Minister.
  • Herald for court, though your local herald may wish to assist

Potential pitfalls:

  • The A&S Champs event is relatively new in the Kingdom rotation, so the format and needs could change in the future.

AEcademy header

ÆTHELMEARC ÆCADEMY

The Æthelmearc Æcademy can seem like a daunting event to run because it has so much going on, but it’s another one that is run almost entirely by the Kingdom. The Chancellor of the Æcademy solicits teachers and schedules the classes, and then monitors the classes during the day. You can learn more at the Æcademy website. Traditional dates are in the late spring and late fall. It rotates among the regions so look for announcements when it’s your region’s turn, but if there are no bids from the desired region by a specified date, it may be thrown open to bids from groups in other regions.

Your responsibilities:

  • A site with multiple rooms for classes. Some Æcademies have had as many as a dozen classes running at a time, though 8-10 is a more typical number.
  • Outdoor space for War College classes, which can include any of the martial activities, but especially fighting and fencing. Pavilions or canopies in case of inclement weather are a good idea. Some of the martial classes might also want tables and chairs. Work with the Dean of the War College to determine what is needed.
  • A site booklet with a map of the rooms, and clear labeling of the classroom doors by number or letter so people can find them easily.
  • A lunch sideboard. Work with the Chancellor of the Æcademy to determine whether there will be a specifically-timed lunch break or an all-day sideboard.
  • Ideally, at least one classroom should have a sink or easy access to a bathroom or janitor’s closet for cleanup after messy arts like painting, woodblock printing, cooking, etc.
  • Space for court.
  • Someone to handle reservations and troll.
  • Setup and cleanup crews

Optionally your responsibility:

  • A feast is nice not but required.
  • If there’s room in the kitchen, or the site has more than one kitchen, making kitchen space available for cooking classes is always appreciated.

NOT your responsibility:

  • Soliciting teachers and scheduling the classes. These are all done by the Chancellor.
  • Heralds for court, though your local herald may wish to assist.

Potential pitfalls:

  • Attendance can be quite variable, and there’s no easy way to tell how many people to cook lunch for, though the Chancellor will probably be able to give you an estimate based on past Æcademy sessions. Your cooks should have a backup plan for getting more food if attendance is higher than expected.
  • If there is no designated lunch break, it’s important to keep food flowing to the sideboard on a constant basis as people will be grabbing something to eat between one class and the next. Attendees will be grumpy if the sideboard is bare in the 5 minutes they have to get lunch. Finger food is ideal since they may be taking the food to with them to the classrooms. If a particular classroom should NOT have food in it, make sure that’s clearly posted.
  • If all the martial activities are outdoors and the weather is bad, then people will be unhappy. Indoor space for fighting/fencing is highly desirable.

court

12th NIGHT

12th Night is probably the most challenging Kingdom-level event to host. Other than food and court, it has no built-in activities that are run by officers, though you can call on Kingdom officers for help. It can be boring if the group autocratting it doesn’t arrange for fun pursuits. It also carries the most risk because it’s held in the dead of winter, so a snowstorm can reduce expected attendance significantly, potentially causing the event to lose money – but the Kingdom will usually cover losses as long as you stuck to your planned budget. Traditional date is the first weekend in January. It rotates among the regions so look for announcements when it’s your region’s turn, but if there are no bids from the desired region by a specified date, it may be thrown open to bids from groups in other regions.

Likely attendance: 150-300 depending on location and weather.

Your responsibilities:

  • A large site, preferably with a pretty or grand hall for court. Medieval-style churches with big sanctuaries are great for this.
  • Cooks to provide a sideboard and a feast. This event typically has the highest percentage of attendees staying for the feast. It should be a grand one with multiple removes.
  • Someone to handle reservations and troll.
  • Setup and cleanup crews.
  • Space for any other activities the Crown requests.

Optionally your responsibility:

  • Games of various sorts, including board games, but also silly ones like a pillow fight tourney or a scavenger hunt/quest. An excellent resource for period games (some of them physical games that can be done indoors or outdoors, as well as board games) is the book Medieval Games by Master Salamallah the Corpulent of the East Kingdom.
  • Lord and Lady of Misrule. This is a very medieval custom where a cake has two tokens baked into it, and then pieces are distributed to the populace. The people who find the tokens become the lord and/or lady of misrule (gender not necessarily being relevant). You may need to discuss with the Crown whether they are willing to be temporarily displaced by the Lord and Lady of Misrule for court or the feast. It helps to have someone with a good sense of humor prearranged as an advisor to the Misrule couple, to suggest benign but amusing edicts they can make (all of the chivalry present are required to perform a dance, certain people are requested to come up with a skit or musical performance on short notice, new silly titles are bestowed on individuals, etc.).
  • Classes. If your site has enough small rooms, you might consider soliciting teachers for short classes. The Kingdom A&S Minister can help with this.
  • Competitions, like bardic, cookie baking, or A&S. You could also have an A&S Display. Sometimes the Crown holds Their Kingdom Bard competition at 12th Night, in which case all you need is a performance area as They will do the judging.
  • A display of Kingdom History. Contact the Kingdom Historian.
  • Fundraisers for the Kingdom, like a silent auction for which you solicit goods from artisans.
  • Rooms for meetings if the Crown or Orders request them.

NOT your responsibility:

  • Heralds for court, though your local herald may wish to participate as a second.

Potential pitfalls:

  • Try to find a site with multiple rooms. A hall that has nothing but one big room will make it difficult to run multiple activities, hard to walk around, and noisy to the point of overwhelming for some people.
  • If possible, have your cooks hold off on buying/making most of the food until the last few days before the event. Keep an eye on the weather and adjust quantities of food up or down depending on what travel conditions will be.