Sport of Kings

We just got back from McIver Park, after our Sport of Kings event. It was the second SoK, run again by our household, Ulfredsheim. This year Liadan and I ran registration for the event, both online and at the event, and I did the site handout, maps, t-shirt separations and website again.

Three months of prep - databases and programming, hundreds of emails, lining up teachers and class scheduling for 109 classes, t-shirts, putting together contests and prizes, all culminating in this 3-day tournament-focused event.


We picked up the site handouts from the printers, got to the site late Thursday afternoon and started setting up the encampment. We managed to get the yurt set up before dark and then headed back to town to finish printing out the student info and the large site maps. On Friday, we arrived after noon to set up the registration area, and get ready for the flood about to come in. We open the reg table after 4 and soon we had a few folks at a time to pick up their class registrations or to sign up for them, if they weren't pre-reged. It went surprisingly smoothly, although there were a couple times on Friday evening and Saturday that we had about 10 or 12 people lined up.

Couldn't have done it without the computers. We had Liadan's iBook and my PowerBook connected to a printer. I ran a database written by Demetria, that kept track of class sizes, so we wouldn't overbook them. We marked classes off as they filled, and helped folks change classes. It ran pretty smoothly.

Our classes were very well received, and we filled a good number of them, probably better than 40 classes. Most of the rest were well attended. Our teachers did a good job, and those who had especially long hours were given a young Page to bring them food and drink. T-shirts were delivered to site on Saturday, and we handed them out to all who had bought them, then put the rest on sale. Only a few were left at the end of the event, and they were donated to our hard-working Pages for a job well done.

Their Excellencies Titus and Kateline kicked off their new idea of a Baronial audience. They will do this at most events, the idea being that most business that takes place in court isn't really necessary to happen in that venue. Presentations, ceremonies that need a witness, etc. This will cut the length of court way down, just to use for awards and announcements. This, of course isn't really a new idea, but one that is based in history. In the audience, I formally took Lady Ai'bhinn ingen Sena'in hui Ne'ill as a student. I've been teaching her bodhran and jewelry making. After awhile she may apprentice...

In the evening, after I closed the registration booth for the day, we got some dinner at the Virgin Countess. These folks totally rock! Started by Her Grace Hlutwige, it is now run by her apprentice Danna ni Dunne. Danna, Hlutwige, Georgette, and Horace all worked their butts off, serving up to 200 meals in an hour. And it was good, too.

After dinner, we went back to Brockhalla, where folks were gathering for the party. It was a belly-dancing night, we had 7 or 8 dancers going at once, accompanied by 2 or 3 drummers and myself, on harp. It's kind of fun playing a long, extended chord pattern to a middle-eastern beat, it's like playing a 26-string oud. I had stuck my battery-powered sound setup back in the bushes behind Brockhalla, covered with a cloth. It's an amplifier with a digital "stomp box" for echo, reverb, digital delay, chorus and other effects. Used with some restraint, it makes my small harp sound like a much larger one, minus the lowest notes. I top it all off with a wireless system. The transmitter is hidden inside my harp, hooked to the pickups on the soundboard. Totally invisible amplification. Very hi-tech. Bad Laurel, no biscuit ;-)

Then I switched to the bodhran later in the evening, so I could join in the dancing. The harp's kind of dangerous to dance with. Demetria and I were dancing back-to-back while I was drumming, leaning against each other. Lotsa fun to do, I love to do those dumbek beats on the bodhran, but it freaks out the dumbek players sometimes, though.

On Sunday afternoon, we had what was the best tournament I've ever seen. Everybody got a chance to apply what they had been learning all weekend. From the start with Sir Brand's impassioned and inspirational charge to the competitors and his explanation of what was about to happen for the benefit of the spectators, to the last blow of the winner, it was great. Everybody had a great time, even His Grace Skapti who, in a repeat of last year's final, lost to Duke Uther of the West. Great fights, great speeches and challenges, great deaths. The ambiance was better than I've seen at SCA events, with the castle walls and most mundanities hidden out of sight. Huzzah!

After the tourney we had a Baronial court, I played harp as people were waiting for court to begin. The various prizes for the contests given out and the pages were presented in court. Titus and Kateline look like they will do well as Baron and Baroness. I'm very pleased with the beginning of their term as B&B, I think the Barony will be well-served.

In the evening, I went over to see my friends Mistress Cymbric and Sir Brand at their tent overlooking the tourney field. I brought my harp over and played with them, Cymbric had a wire-strung harp, which I played for awhile, and Brand had his pennywhistle.

On Monday we had the luxury of doing a leisurely teardown, instead of having to quickly tear down and leave site, and then drive for hours.

We'll be taking a while off after this event, between this and everything else that's happened this summer, it's been better than 3 months of straight out, 18+ hours a day, 7 days a week, and we're totally beat. But it feels really good to have pulled off a great event again. Yay, Ulfredsheim! Ya done good!

At Baronial court, along with my friends Lady Rafny Garansdottir and Lady Kseniia Smol'nyanina.

Posted by: Conchobar on Aug 04, 03 | 5:05 pm


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