[NR] Society for Compulsive Alcoholics?

willowjonbardc at juno.com willowjonbardc at juno.com
Wed Feb 20 17:00:03 PST 2013

An event without alcohol<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
By Duchess Willow de Wisp
So your site is dry. All is not lost you would be surprised by the number of people who do not, cannot or are under age and should not drink.  In fact an event where there are things going on that are more exciting than watching everyone get drunk would be welcomed by some of us. 
The first thing you need to do is to expand your event so it is more than just a bear pit tourney, art contest and a feast. This has gotten a little boring. If you are going to make your event interesting enough to overcome being dry you need to add some zest to it. This is good advice for anyone doing an event that doesn’t have “Tradition!” on its side. 
The bear pit tourney or the multi-field tourney may be what your local fighters want. You know the “all we want is more fighting” concept.  It sounds good, but it doesn’t attract the really good fighter or the up and coming fighters. 
Warlord and Protectorate were at one time large tourneys with over an hundred fighters and hundreds of people at the events.  They started out as small event but they had several things they used to do that made people want to come to them.  
First was Magic and the second was beauty. No matter what people say the feeling of the medieval world and the show that makes the Magic or “the Dream” is the thing that most of us came into the SCA for.  Persona is the art of being a Medieval person and that is something we can fall into if we are in a medieval setting. 
Many, many of our gentlemen are just that gentlemen and really like being watched by the ladies and the ladies like being flirted with. The problem no one is sure of doing this properly and so they avoid it.  We need a place that showcases these behaviors so squires can show their courtly side and knights can see it. 
Talk to the knights and see what they need to further their squires. Do not be disappointed if you get blank looks. Tell them your problem and ask them if they would be willing to sponsor a list at your event and ask them an open ended question as what they would like to see. 
Fact—the more different styles of fighting that you can pack into your event the more people will come. You will get more people if you have seperate great sword, spear and mass weapon lists with each having its own prize than if you have one list that includes all of the styles. 
If you look at a ven diagram your will see that three separate list expands to fit everyone who is interested ,while having one list with three styles of fighting limits the number of people who feel that they can safely fight with all three styles. 
Another fact if you want your event to work you need to involve as many people as possible. If you get Duke so and so to sponsor a spear list and Duchess so and so to sponsor a combat archery contest and Sir so and so to sponsor a sword and shield list, each person will come with their people to run the list. If they are from different sets of people you will get 3 to 5 people just by setting it up. This doesn’t count the people who might enter the list just because these people are going to be there. 
Do you know how hard it is to get noticed by the Knights?  If you can assure them of knights from your region and if possible knights from another region being there many up and coming fighters will attend. The fact that your event is small is in your favor because it would give the squires a place to talk to knights in a social setting. Many young fighters would welcome this so they don’t feel like they are forcing themselves into awkward situations. 
You should talk to the Knight's Ladies. The ladies have the job of teaching the squires their social arts and making the squire into a gentleman. This is very hard to do and without activities that stress these skills hard to impress on the young squire the importance of the activities.
A list that comprised of a series of contest to show the skills of Knighthood could be fun. You know you start out with a day of a knight. Up and fighting and dealing with his horse in the morning and more fighting and maybe doing some hunting. Then he would act as a lawgiver by being on a jury in the middle of the day and then to feast serving the Lord and with carving the meat. Some knights were supposed to be able to carve a chicken off a spit in the air. Then he would be required to entertain and do some flirting with the ladies and dancing. 
If you ran people through this as fast as possible it would be like Danny K and the jester and should be really entertaining.  If you get people, from outside your group, to run each part of this gauntlet you are going to get 1- 5 more people to come to your event.
People like to come to events that they are part of. If they just liked to watch they could go to the renfaires. Doing and being part of what is going on is one of the strengths of the SCA. 
Look around and see what is missing for special interest group. Do not plan to be all things for all people. The bigger, older events fill that niche. Look for a need that is not being filled by the big events and fill it. 
You will need to advertise well in advance and you will need to ask the people you are going to ask a long time in advance. You do this for two reasons. As money gets tight people start to fill out their schedule further and further in the future. You want to get the most people as you can so you need to make your information assure them that they will get more bangs for their bucks. Also you want to give your sponsors time to talk up the event.  You want to give your sponsors time to grab people before those people set their future plans.
Make sure people know that they are welcomed even if they do not know people. Many of our events are clique-fests. The purpose of the event is to hang out with your friends.  If you are not an older event you do not have that pull so all the people in your group need to go out and talk to as many people as you can so people will know that there will be a friendly face.  New people and newcomers are obvious, but people who have grown old in the SCA and have outlived their cohorts are also a group that would like to have a chance to go to an event and make new friends.
. If you have a hole in the late afternoon think about getting a players troop or puppet show or a reading or shows by the bards. If you get 10 people performing that means you get about 10 to 15 more people.  
If you are counting that is about 20 to 35 people just to run everything. If you keep your price down it is Ok to not offer anything to these people. Just like the people in your home group know that they will have to pay to come to the event these people understand. Helping out with some comps might mean you get a player troupe. Players are often broke. Comps could mean free food.
Also make your price as low as possible. Newcomers and young people and members on a set income are often broke. Also there is a formula of price=fun –work. Meaning the higher the price the more entertainment people expect and the less work they want to do. 
Part of the reasons we are losing people to other entertainment venues is the cost of going to an events is getting too high. When you add in the added expense of membership and the increase cost of gas and the increase in site and feast fees you are talking hundred to hundreds to go to an event. If the events are nothing more than a glorified fighter practice that is a lot of money to spend. 
The same is true when it comes to championships and art contest. If you cannot give the individuals personal enjoyment then they become too costly to attend. 
People enter an arts competition for four reasons: to win a prize, to get people to look at their work, a chance to learn and word fame. It is nearly impossible to give out a prize that will make people happy. Most of the time enjoyment comes from recognition of the quality of the work. This is very social so you need to look at your competition and see if your format will give the artist the strokes and encouragement that the person needs to feel gratified
Again you need to make sure that people of all levels get recognition. Some kind of advance, middle and novice recognition token should be given out. This could be a scroll or a ribbon or a pin. If it is something that someone could wear on a dress or hat then the person could wear it and tell people about winning it and it should promote your event for next year. 
Lastly the final thing is sugar and caffeine.  One of the reason people drink is for energy. I have found that sugar and caffeine will keep people up and going. We do not need to drink to have fun. Many times we drink to get over our fears about meeting new people. 
If the autocrats have done their job well we have been introducing and mixing people throughout the event. Now that evening comes and we have social gathering these people can interact and make friends. If the artist and other competitors are sporting things that they can interact and boast about and if the “award giving” is done in a way that brings everyone together the people won’t need alcohol for courage and the sugar and caffeine can give them the energy to keep going. ‘
Whatever you do please do not lock people into a long feast or court.  When people sit down for long periods of time they realize that they are tired and hurt. You want to keep the energy up and get over the letdown of the day. You will want to go from activity to activity to food to activity ‘to award giving, to activity. Make sure there are places with lights so people can gather and if possible have at least three areas; a dance area, a bardic area and a place where people can sit and watch or talk.  The three areas should all be lighted and set up in a triangle where people can see the lights from one area from another. This leads people to walk from one area to the next.  
To sum up
Look for needs that are not met at other events.
Lots of things to do 
Lots of social reinforcement
Autocrat staff keeps mixing the people. Just like a host at a party.
Keep the energy up. 
Do not let people sit too much.
Plan activities after award giving and eating 
Use lots of lights—lights=energy
Lots of caffeine and sugar, but warn people of it. Some of us have problems with sugar and caffeine. 
Try to make people feel good about your event. At least you want them to have had a good time and at best you make them feel like they are in the magic land of Ansteorra. 
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