Before You Make a Bid
There is a lot of work that goes into planning an SCA event. No two events are the same and may require different ingredients. If you are thinking of becoming an autocrat (that’s the person who runs the event), here are some things to think about, as you get ready to make your bid for the event.
By far the hardest part of autocrating an event is finding a place to host it. You might be able to use a site we’ve used for an event before, or you might have an idea about a totally new site. When you find a site, consider these questions:
- Where is it?
- Is alcohol allowed?
- Are pets allowed?
- Are open fires allowed?
- Is it accessible to people with mobility issues?
- Is camping permitted?
- Are there any other site restrictions or things people should know about?
Time and Date
When is your event taking place? Is it a one day event or a weekend long event? Check with the East Kingdom calendar to make sure that your event doesn’t take place at the same time as other local events or big kingdom events. Once you’ve tentatively chosen a date, it’s also polite to check with nearby seneschals to see if they’ve got an event in the planning stages for the same weekend. Your event still might conflict with something else, but it’s best to give your event the best chance of being successful.
Budget – Expenses
An event budget is essential for yourself, to see if you’re proposing a realistic event, and it’s also required in order to get approval from the shire’s Financial Committee. Is this event something that the Shire can afford? Are you spending money wisely? Are you forgetting things you might need? The more you think of early on, the smoother things will run. Here are some expenses you should have on your budget (this is by no means a complete list):
- Site rental cost
- Food (if applicable)
- Cleaning supplies (garbage bags, toilet paper, etc)
- Prizes for competitions
- Signs (if the Shire doesn’t already have)
Budget – Income from Attendees
Of course, you need to be thinking about the people that are going to be coming to your event, and paying for the privilege. How many people do you expect to attend? What are you planning on charging them for the site fee? Is there a different fee if they are doing dayboard? What about feast? Will you offer a discount for children? What about having a family rate cap? Remember, you also have to charge non-SCA members a $5 surcharge on top of the site fee (unless they have a discounted fee due to being ages 17 and under). When calculating your budget, think about how many people you would need to attend in order to break even in your expenses for the event. Sometimes, a site is just too expensive for the number of people expected to attend the event.
It’s also possible to have an event site fee “by donation” and then charge a separate feast fee if you’re having a feast. (The feast fee should only cover the feast expenses; it’s not permitted to engineer the site costs into a separate feast fee.) By-donation events work best with inexpensive sites, to lessen the risks of not breaking even.
A huge component of any event is the food. It can be one of the most memorable parts of any event. But, that being said, do not feel obligated to have food at your event. If it’s a day event, many autocrats will make the decision to not have a feast (dinner) or not have a dayboard (lunch). It is OK to tell people that they are responsible for feeding themselves, but it changes the “feel” of your event.
Head Cook: If you do want to provide a feast, or a dayboard, you will need a Head Cook. They are in charge of all things food, though they still report to the autocrat. Working together, you and the Head Cook will plan the menu and the budget for it, and the Head Cook will create the food, or delegate the cooking of the dishes, while keeping the food costs as low as possible. Being a Head Cook is a huge task. If you don’t have anyone up for the challenge, maybe you shouldn’t provide a specially cooked feast or dayboard at your event.
Feast, Dayboard, Pot-Luck, or no food at all? A good alternative to a full blown feast is a dayboard. Dayboards are usually a smaller buffet-style meal, served mid-day. The cost for the dayboard is often included in the site fee, but it’s possible to charge for the dayboard separately (in which case, you can use tickets or some other system to determine who has paid and who hasn’t). The dayboards at events can range from being snacks to a full blown feast. It is up to your budget and what the Head Cook feels capable of doing. For a feast, there is usually a separate charge from the site fee. Ultimately it’s up to you to decide how or if you want food to be provided at your event.
One way that you are going to get people to come to your event is the activities you choose to do. Is the event a feast and it’s centered around dinner? Better find a Head Cook. Will there be fighting, fencing, or archery? If so, you’re going to need a Marshal in Charge to run things and make sure everything is by the book. Is there going to be an Arts and Science aspect? Do you want to have a table of exhibits, or maybe competitions? Who’s going to judge it? Do you want to have classes? You will need a class coordinator who will find teachers to teach those classes. How about children? How will you entertain them? Lastly, how will you schedule everything, and let people at the event know when things are happening?
You can’t run an event all by yourself. You’re going to need a lot of help. Once you identify your core group of volunteers, they can tell you what other volunteers they might need in order to be successful running their portion of the event. The number of volunteers you might need to run an event is something you should take into consideration during the planning stages. Our little Shire might not have enough people power on its own. You might have to call on our neighboring groups. Is this something you are willing to do? Is it something that our groups can help with? If not, think about downsizing.
So now you’ve done all of this and you’re ready to propose an event to the Seneschal and Exchequer. (see below) Our Shire officers will take it into consideration and get back to you. Not quite ready to submit it? Feel free to contact the Seneschal or any other officers with any questions you might have. We’re here to help.
Make a Bid!
Send your bid details to the seneschal, exchequer, and deputy exchequer. Answer these questions:
. Proposed name, date, and location of event:
. Autocrat’s name and email:
. Describe your overall vision for the event:
. Site details: Capacity, handicapped accessible, camping or no, alcohol policy, parking availability, are tables and chairs provided, is kitchen available, etc.
. Food: which meal/meals will be provided? Who is in charge of the food?
. Expenses: list all known expenses including site fees, food, and necessary supplies.
. Income: list expected attendance. What is the fee for adults, for teens, and for younger children? (Remember that we charge an extra $5 for nonmember adults, but we have to send that money away, so it doesn’t count against our expenses.)
Events we are looking for Bids on:
Yule Feast (joint with Panther Vale – it’s our turn). Bid is due by Oct 30.
Mimir’s Well (spring)
Feast of Fools (spring)
Rules for Autocrats
Looking for some reading on how to be an autocrat? Rules and Information for Event Autocrats, courtesy of Duchess Marieke.