SCA Events for the Complete Beginner:

Going to your first event!

There's an upcoming event which interests you and you want to go and check it out! Attending one of the Society's events is the best method to experience first-hand what the SCA is all about. The following paragraphs will provide you with some general information concerning the types of events which abound, how to prepare for one, what to bring, and what to do once you arrive.

Where do I find information on events?

Local SCA chapters hosting official SCA events are required to prepare event flyers. Event flyers are published in the Kingdom newsletter (the Acorn) and quite often, local newsletters. If you do not have a copy of the Acorn, you can access the 
Kingdom Event Calendar.  If all else fails, ask a member of your local chapter if they will share a copy of their newsletter with you.

Event flyers contain information specific to each event including the name of the event, date, time the site opens and closes, site fees, the name and address of the person who is accepting reservations for the event, directions to the site, an overview of the days activities, site restrictions (if any), and a point of contact if you need additional information.

It is strongly recommended that you make a reservation in advance; especially if you plan on attending the feast. If you find out about the event after it is too late to mail in a reservation, call the autocrat or reservationist before you leave for the event to ensure that there is feast space available. If not, you may still attend the event, but you may not be able to eat at the feast. Also, you may want to ask to be placed on a waiting list for feast. Sometimes, people who have made advanced reservations are unable to attend the event. However, it is recommended that you bring your own food for dinner or be prepared to eat at a local restaurant as there is no guarantee that you will be reached on the waiting list.

Types of Events

One-Day Events:

One-day events take place on a single day, usually Saturday. There is no camping on site and activities run from mid-morning to dark. Once you arrive on site, you MUST check in at “Troll”, sign waivers (if you aren’t already a member or if there will be equestrian activities), pay any appropriate fees (unless you have pre-registered), pick up a site token (if they are available at the event), get directions on where to park, where to find Gold Key for loaner garb (if you and your family need it), and information on when, where, and what activities will be going on that day. Then wander about and enjoy the event! =D

Weekend Events:

Weekend events are the most common type of event. Attending these events normally requires ample preparation and driving some distance to a campground. These events usually start on Friday afternoon and continue through Sunday. Upon arrival, everyone must check in at the TROLL BOOTH, pay any appropriate site fees (if not pre-reserved), and obtain any information concerning camping areas and times of any planned activities. Next you will set up your encampment in the allotted camping areas.

The weekend events vary in type. Although a large proportion are tournament events where armoured combatants battle to become champion of the List, there are also Arts & Sciences competitions or displays for entering period crafts and projects, as well as Collegiums which offer courses on various SCA subjects. You will be responsible for your own food and drink for breakfast and lunch. Many events offer an evening FEAST for a nominal fee. While some members drive off-site to eat at local restaurants, many plan ahead and purchase food as a group and share in the preparation and cleanup. Wine and beer are acceptable drink if you are of legal drinking age and where permissible. Some sites are considered dry and do not permit the use of alcohol. Check the event flyer and note if the site is wet or dry.

Throughout the day there are often a number of games, competitions and other activities in which you can participate. These may include archery, chess, heraldic workshops, and arts or sciences classes. The event schedule located at the Troll Booth often lists which activities are planned, as well as when and where they will occur. These are but a few of the ways to meet and make many new friends. As most weekend events are annually sponsored, someone can usually inform you in advance what the event is like or how to drive there, good information to know!

War Events:

Events where we all get together, camp, and playfully ‘go to war’ with other baronies or kingdoms are the longest and most immersing events in the SCA. Wars will either last an entire week (6-7days), or in the case of “Pennsic” will last for 2 weeks, and are just like weekend events procedure wise, just longer in the length of time. A lot more preparation and planning go into attending War Events – please don’t hesitate to ask for help and suggestions from your fellow SCAdians!

Other SCA Events:

The above events are considered “official events” as they are sponsored by active groups, placed on the Kingdom Calendar, and listed in our Kingdom's monthly newsletter: “The Acorn”. Other, less formal, get-togethers also occur; and although these cannot be considered "events" per se, they still provide a glimpse of Society interaction and are worth mentioning:

Fighters & Archery/Thrown Weapons Practices:
Local members gather regularly to train in SCA combat styles, practice archery and throwing weapons at designated locations – and socialize!
Proper fighting gear and approved weaponry should be brought, loner gear can be available upon request, but you don’t have to show up in garb if you don’t want to.

Activities Nights:
These types of gatherings are normally held at a local park, meeting hall, or member's house and are less structured than the Events mentioned above. Typically held on Thursday Nights in the Barony of Marinus, here you can get together with fellow SCAdians to learn medieval crafts (beading, calligraphy, sewing, for example), take classes (marshalling, dancing, SCA etiquette, etc.), and socialize.  Some of these are in garb and others are not, if you’re not sure feel free to ask!

MOOT:
Once a month, the Barony all comes together to discuss important things going on, finances, baronial projects, plans for future events, bids to host events, new laws, vote, and go over other topics.

Demos:
There is one other common SCA event, called a “Demo”, short for demonstration. These events are normally educational demonstrations performed for schools or other outside interest groups such as the Scouts, or make people aware of the SCA and recruit them if they are interested. Demonstrations of armored or rapier combat, dancing, or other period activities might be performed or displayed. We help promote the Society by answering questions about who we are and lend a period atmosphere with our clothing, crafts, and armor.

What to bring to Events:

Now that you are familiar with some of our events, let's move on to how you might prepare for attending one. Remember, it is not necessary to go out and purchase a lot of equipment prior to your first event. Some items may be borrowed from other members or your local Chatelaine.

The Basics:

·         One set of period clothes, called “garb".

·         Feast gear if you are attending feast: period style plate, bowl, goblet or cup, & utensils (if you don’t have any, let us know and we can get you a loaner set for the event!)

·         Items for a period hobby or craft

·         Fighters: bring armor, weapons, bows, arrows, throwing weapons, atlatl (NOTE: not all events have marshal activities, be sure to check the event flyer prior to attending)

·         A chair, pillow or blanket to sit on (canvas-backed director's chairs are recommended; avoid using modern-looking chairs. If you don't have anything else to sit on, cover your modern-looking chair with a blanket or a cloak)

·         A pavilion or day shade to protect you from the sun & inclement weather, and to put your items, chairs, weapons, etc.

·         Sunscreen, water, drinks, snacks, or food items, and coolers (Feast is served on Saturday evening and you are responsible for feeding and hydrating yourself before then. Rarely, some events will have food merchants available where you can purchase edibles, check the event flyer for details. You could also bring camping stoves, utensils, and cook your own food on site, or drive to a local eatery off site. Some sites allow fire pits where you can cook over a fire.) Please, remember to put your drinks in a period mug, goblet, tankard, or cup and stow your cooler out of sight or cover them up with a cloth to maintain authenticity.

·         If you bring pets, make sure to bring a leash, toys, water and food to keep them comfortable. (Please check the event flyers to verify pets are allowed on site and any documentation if they are a service animal or not, also!)

If Camping:

·         Bring your tent, canopy, pillow(s), sleeping bag or air mattress, sheets and/or blankets as determined by the weather and your personal tastes for comfort. (As for the facilities, some event sites lack adequate chambers and Lords and Ladies alike may share the same facilities. Courtesy is ALWAYS practiced! Before entering showers or restrooms, one should knock on closed doors and ask, "Be there anyone within?" With a little time and experience you will learn to adapt as we have.)

 *        Bring your toiletries: towels, soap, etc. Although toilet paper is usually provided, it isn't such a bad idea to bring along a             roll of your own.

·         Medicine, Band-Aids, basic first-aid kit, and bug spray or citronella candles are equally good ideas.

·         Flashlights or candle lantern is ESSENTIAL as many sites have no outdoor lighting (avoid using Coleman-type lanterns)

·         Any other supplies which will the event and your experience more comfortable

How a Weekend Event goes down from beginning to end:


Getting to the Site Friday:

It's probably a safe bet that you will be driving to an area that you've never been to before and probably in the middle of the night as well. If you are unable to secure a ride or follow someone else who's going, make sure you have one or two good maps of the area, reliable GPS, and some detailed instructions on how to find the site. Check the event flyer for a map and directions. As you near the event site there will usually be several SCA signs at all the turn-off areas indicating direction to the campground.

Now, assuming everything went well, you will eventually find yourself at the event site. Congratulations! You're about to get your first real experience of life in the Current Middle Ages. As mentioned earlier, the first thing to do upon arrival is to check in at the Troll Booth. If you haven't pre-registered (prepaid), you will pay your entrance fee. The registration table should include a list of the planned activities and their start times. If you wish to participate in any of the listed activities, place your name on the appropriate sign-up sheet. There is no limit to the number of activities you can enter, but avoid signing up for activities which begin at the same time. The Troll Booth attendants will advise you where the camping and parking areas are. Be courteous when setting up your camp; a minimal amount of noise will be appreciated by those already asleep!

You're here, now what?

The following narrative is one possible example of what you might encounter if you were to attend a Tournament. As Tourneys represent an often recurring theme as events go, it was chosen as the model for this narrative. While Lists and Wars are predominant themes, many events focus on non-martial activities such as Collegiums and Arts & Sciences Competitions. Naturally, their format will vary somewhat from the following presentation. However, even Tournaments include a wide variety of activities for those whose interests lie outside the realm of armed combat.

Saturday Morning

The Herald's call will be heard early in the morning announcing the first of the day's planned activities. These will typically include armor Inspection. Now is the time to put on some garb and eat some breakfast. While you're up and about, be sure to check the event schedule for the times and locations of the day's many activities. Also, be sure to register for any contest, games, or classes in which you plan to participate. Following inspection, the armed combat will generally be the next activity. You will hear the Herald's announcement proclaiming haste for all fighters to complete inspection. Inspection requires all entrants to be fully Armour and equipped to allow the Marshal(s) an opportunity to review everyone's gear prior to the list or battle. If you're not fighting, you can go out to the field and view the impending combat. Additional ways to spend your time might include checking out the merchant's displays, attend or enter one of the other contests being held, or circulate and make new friends. When lunch time comes around (it's whenever you're hungry), activities tend to slow down. Grab your feast gear and enjoy lunch. Following your meal you can resume watching or entering any of the ongoing activities: games, dancing, lessons on period topics/subjects, etc. Towards the end of the day you will want to begin preparations for court and feast by changing into your court garb.

At Court, the list Champion(s) and winners of the day's contests will be called up before the Crown or Coronet. Additional presentations, proclamations and Society/Kingdom business will be addressed. Note that all who appear before Their Royal Presence use the appropriate forms of reverence: the bow & curtsy.

Following Court, feast will commence. Depending on the site, it may be held outdoors or inside a hall. In preparation for the meal, set out your table, chair, ground cloth or carpet if the setting is to be outdoors. Next, set out your plate, bowl, mug or goblet, and eating utensils. Remember to maintain the atmosphere by using metal, wood, or ceramic for your feast gear items. Optional luxuries might include a tablecloth, matching cloth napkins, a salt cellar, candle and candle holders. Feast is yet another opportunity to meet and make many new friends. While food is served, beverages are sometimes not. Come prepared. Water, iced tea, soft drinks are all common beverages. Beer, wine and mead are probably the most common alcoholic beverages consumed. CHECK TO MAKE SURE YOU CHECK TO SEE IF THE SITE IS WET OR DRY PRIOR TO BRINGING ALCOHOL! (A "Dry Site" means that no alcohol is permitted at all, a "Wet Site" means that alcohol is permitted) This information is normally contained in the event flyer. In addition, YOU MUST BE OF LEGAL DRINKING AGE TO CONSUME ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES! Remember to disguise the look of modern bottles and cans by drinking from your mug or goblet. You will find that a large sturdy wicker basket or canvas tote bag is extremely useful for storing and carrying your feast gear. It should be large enough to carry a duplicate set of plates, bowls, utensils, drinking vessels and any of your other dining needs. Why an extra set? What better way to meet that lord or lady you've admired? Invite them to dine with you. Following Court and Feast you will find people engaged in various activities. Some will be playing musical instruments, some singing or performing at bardic circles, some dancing or playing period games, while others will be sitting in small groups conversing. Join in any one of these activities, and when you are ready, call it a day.

Sunday Morning:

Again you may hear the herald’s voice announcing any of the days planned events. If you are attending any of these, it is time to put on your garb and enjoy some breakfast. If not, you might begin packing and taking down your encampment. Once you’ve finished loading all your gear, remember to completely clean up your campsite. Soon the time will come to say good-bye to your new friends and make promises to meet at the next event.

Suggested Event Packing List:

Note that many of these things aren’t necessary for day trips or other events. Temper this list against your own good judgment.

For the Car:

·         Event Flyer

·         Road Atlas/ Printed Directions/ GPS

·         Flashlight (s)

·         Change (quarters for pay phone and/or tolls)

·         Cellular Phone/ Tablet

·         Snacks/Drinks

·         1st Aid Kit & medications (if applicable)

·         Sunglasses

·         Garb & mundane clothing for the ride home

·         Camping Items, Chairs & Supplies

Car Loading Guide: First to Unload/Last to Pack (Weekend Events):

·         Ground Cloth

·         Tent

·         Stakes/Poles/Hammer/Maul

·         Chairs/other furniture or bulky items

·         Floor Rug(s)

·         Bedroll/Air Mattress (Air Pump)

·         Sheets/Blankets (seasonal)

·         Pillow

·         Clothing (Garb & Mundane)

·         Toiletries: INCLUDING SUNSCREEN!

Items to Have Readily Available on Saturday Morning of Weekend Events:

·         Chair/Stool (covers for same?)

·         Folding Table (covers for same?)

·         Arms/Armor/Archery equipment

·         Snacks & Drinks

·         SCA approved weaponry

·         Children's toys (if necessary)

·         Inclement weather gear/blankets (in case the weather turns or it gets cold)

·         Day Shade (not necessary in all cases but they make for nice hangout places)

·         Medicines/First Aid Kit/Sunscreen

·         Embroidery

·         Weaving Projects

·         Camera

Feast Gear:

·         Wicker Basket/Canvas Tote

·         Plate, Bowl, Goblet, Utensils

·         Candles, Holders & Matches

·         Corkscrew

·         Large Plastic Bags/ cleaning wipes (trashcans will be available but sinks to immediately clean dishes may not be)

Food, Storage, & Cooking Items:

·         Ice Chest

·         Fruits

·         Lunch Meats

·         Cheese

·         Condiments

·         Soft Drinks, Juice, Gatorade/Powerade

·         Beer/Mead (If Permitted - Check Event Flyer & site restrictions!!)

·         Bread, Crackers, Chips

·         Water!!!

·         Coleman Stove

·         BBQ Pit, Hibachi (If Permitted - check with Autocrat concerning open flame restrictions)

·         Pots, Pans, Cooking Utensils

·         Cleanup items: Dish Soap, Scouring Pads, Towels