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May Crown 2015 - Event Report

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Event Name: May Crown Tournament, 2015

Stewards: Katherina Weyssin (Katherine Davies) and William de Cameron (David Robb), with Anna de Wilde (Angela Wells) as deputy.

Date: 1-3 May, 2015

Site: Hunua Falls Camp, Auckland

Cost: 

Original proposal
Event Advertisement


Bookings and Attendance

Total attendance was 118 people.

There were 120 bookings, and two last-minute cancellations (thus, the booking form shows 120 and the attendance spreadsheet 118). Our site cap was also 120, but we didn't turn anyone away.

We were pleased that we reached our site cap and relieved we didn't have to turn anyone away. Our profit is spot-on what we predicted for an event of this size (though to be honest, we didn't give a huge amount of early thought to attendance over 100, as it seemed so unlikely).

Our bookings system worked well. Some refinements to our form made the results (e.g. exactly how many people in each age category would be at each meal, hence the budget for each meal) very easy to read. 

Attendance in each booking category

        Attendance Category Adult (18+) Youth (12-17) Child (5-11) Infant (under 5)
A Whole event

93

 4

B

Saturday + Sunday (excludes Saturday breakfast)

6      
C Friday + Saturday + Feast (not staying Saturday night or Sunday)        
1 Friday + Saturday (no feast, or accommodation Saturday night)        
2 Day tripping Saturday (no accommodation) includes feast 2  
3 After tournament arrival Saturday (feast, to end of event on Sunday) 3    
  Feast only      

 

A complete break-down of all bookings can be found in the spreadsheet ("May Crown Accounts") submitted with the report, or from the results of the booking form. Neither is included here as they contain some details that may be private. Please contact the stewards if you would like to discuss these and don't have access to either source.

 

Points of interest

  • 101 people booked for the whole event (84%); only 19 booked for part (16%)
  • 108 adults booked (90%); only 12 minors (10%)
  • 90 adults were SCANZ or SCAA members (83%); only 18 paid event membership (17%) (one event membership was refunded after cancellation)
  • 27 adults paid an extra $10 for booking after the 1st of March price rise (25%) 

Why so many more than expected?

We predicted attendance in the 70s, with 60-90 seeming plausible. 120 was, well, 30 more people than we thought plausible given past attendance at Kingdom Events and Baronial Investitures in this area (for details, see our proposal).

Where people came from:

  • 36 - Auckland (Ildhafn City)
  • 14 - Waikato (Canton of Cluain)
  • 37 - Rest of New Zealand
  • 21 - Australia

The unexpectedly good attendance was mostly due to the very large number of people who attended from elsewhere in New Zealand - Darton and Southron Gaard - and partly due to membership increases in Auckland/Ildhafn City since our bid was submitted. 

Attendance from Cluain was low, but that was as expected - it was an expensive event, particularly for families with several children. 

Seven people came from Australia specifically for the opening of the Order of Defense (many New Zealanders and some Australians who would have travelled for that had already booked).

The last Kingdom Event in the Crescent Isles was Midwinter Coronation in 2010, also in Ildhafn. We speculate that the long gap between kingdom events in New Zealand (and even longer time since a Crown Tournament in New Zealand) was much of the reason for the excellent turnout. 


 

Finances

We made an excellent profit (for us): right in the middle of our predicted range for this level of attendance. 

  • Profit: $1480.51
  • Kingdom/group profit split: $740.26 each
  • Total income: $12,608.00 
  • Total expenses: $11,127.49

Most line-items were close to the budgeted amount. Where they varied it was generally because we'd treated as fixed costs things that actually scale somewhat if the event numbers change a great deal (so printing and cleaning were both more expensive, because of the larger attendance - more loo paper, longer lists, etc). In other places we got a lucky break - Anna negotiated with butchers and grocers for excellent bulk deals on the food, transport was cheaper because petrol costs have dropped (and the quartermaster has moved).

Main sources of profit:

  • excellent attendance, so profit on fixed costs above break-even (about $13 per adult after the first 40) - about $800
  • under-spend on food - meal plan came in about 10% under budget - entirely within our "comfort zone" - about $300
  • late fees - 27 adults paid an extra $10 for booking after March 1st - $270

A complete break-down of all expenditures, income, receipts, etc. can be found in the spreadsheet ("May Crown Accounts") submitted with the report (not included here as it contain some details that may be private). Please contact the stewards if you would like to discuss this and don't have access.


 

Site

The site was excellent. We'd love to use it again.

Good points: friendly and helpful caretaker, good facilities, great kitchen, comfortable dorms, very pretty outdoors, lots of hot water. On-site laundry is very useful. 

Less good points: poor-to-absent mobile coverage (this is a thing that happens in scrunched-up, mountainous countries); sogginess; last-minute negotiation with the board about alcohol (which we hope will be easier another time, as we have an established relationship); some maintenance problems during the weekend (e.g. a leak in the Royal Lounge). As the site is usually well-maintained, I think we just got unlucky with the plumbing.

The site allows absolutely no smoking. We had no complaints about this; and in any case, very few attendees were smokers.

The caretaker was very pleased with us, and impressed with the condition we left the site in, especially the scrupulous and professional manner in which the bathrooms were cleaned (thanks, Sarah!). 

We will definitely use this site again. I'd be happy to run another Crown Tournament there. 

The 120-person cap is because there are 120 beds, but also because it's what their septic tanks can handle. However, the caretakers have since told us that with the addition of portaloos (which the site will arrange, by negotiation) and accommodation in tents, they allow events hosting 150 or more. 

The site is keen to have any pictures we're willing to share, especially of the decorated hall, and the tournament, to add to their website and/or facebook page. 


 

Schedule

A detailed schedule is on the event website

Things that worked:

  • padding - at least 15 minutes gap between major events, so minor delays didn't accumulate through the day
  • informal, ungarbed Friday evening - Auckland traffic was vile, so many people arrived an hour or more later than they'd expected to
  • early-start feast: all done by 9-ish, after which early-birds could go to bed, and revellers to revel
  • fast pack-up: the event closed at 1pm, pack up was complete and site inspection well underway before 3pm - thanks, all!
  • schedules in each bunkroom: people seemed to like it

The fast set-up we'd expected would have been more challenging. Our site-hire actually started at 4pm on Friday, but as there was no group there immediately before us, the caretaker was kind enough to allow our set-up crew there from 2pm. That was very useful indeed. 


 

Meal Plan

Many thanks to Anna de Wilde for managing all meals save the feast, including buying food, assisting cooks with budgets, etc. She was able to make substantial savings by buying for all the meals in one go. The meals as a whole (excluding the feast) came in around 9% under budget ($295.75).

Cooks:

  • Ludwig von Regensburg (Friday Dinner)
  • Aveline Goupil (Saturday breakfast)
  • Margaretta (Saturday lunch)
  • Katherine of Glastonbury (Sunday breakfast)
  • Svartr Ormsson (Sunday lunch)

Feast

Vettoria di Giovanni managed a large team to run a sumptuous feast; for significantly larger numbers than expected. 

She came in right on budget: $80.95 remaining out of a feast budget of $2190

We got many compliments on the lighting - beautiful hanging glass oil lamps, made by Their Excellencies Rudiger and Alyenora.


 

Entertainment

Special thanks to Elizabeth Braythwayte for coordinating the entertainments over the weekend, and to Elena Spycer for wrangling the harps and harpists. 

Highlights for the weekend were:

  • An ensemble of harps and recorders playing sweet and gentle music in the Royal Pavilion during gaps in the tournament (Elena, Elizabeth and Katherine)
  • A trumpeter on the balcony announcing the beginning and end of each round of the tournament (Gregory, working beautifully with the herald, Ceara)
  • Feast entertainers - Geoffrey, Gareth, Ludwig, Maheshti, Elena - wonderful, all
  • Maheshti's soteltie - a sugar map of Lochac, showing their Majesties' conquests
  • Sunday's puppet play (Cicilia, with help from Inigo and Emrys)

Unexpected / unplanned extra bits that made my weekend:

  • Don Gregory's speech in Ludwig's White Scarf Ceremony (there was a pebble ...)
  • Sir Steffan's speech in the Master of Defense Ceremony (this is a good day ...)
  • Singing L'homme arme, and hearing it echoed later by Gregory on trumpet
  • The Order of Defense marshalling Crown Tournament
  • Maximilian's leather list tree
  • Sir Brusi and Sir Callum fighting from chairs
  • dancing on Sunday, arranged and taught by Loralein and Medb - thank you!

 

Crown Tournament

13 people indicated their intention to enter Crown Tournament on their booking forms; 11 fought on the day. The tournament was noted for the honour and chivalry displayed by the combatants, and the enjoyable clean fights that took place. The newly minted members of the Order of Defense marshalled throughout, and were joined on the field in the final by the Crown and Order of Chivalry.

List field - size, placement, sogginess

There was some discussion before the event about the best place to put the list field, how small was too small, and whether a big field or a nice location were more important (thanks to Rudiger for providing a heavy-fighters perspective - most helpful!). We decided to run with a small-ish list field, because it allowed an excellent location - scenic, right in the middle of the event, with easy access to hall, kitchen, bathrooms, shelter for spectators, etc. We sought feedback from most of the fighters after the tournament: common comments were that the field was on the small side, but not unreasonably so, that the location was pleasing (and worth it), but that the ground became rather slippery because all the fights happened in much the same place. Several fighters suggested sawdust or sand to reduce slipperiness. Should we do this again, we'll discuss those options with the site caretaker.

Fencing

The fencers took the field on Sunday morning as a demonstration of the art for the populace who were not otherwise engaged in meetings or chores. No tournament was held, in deference to the Crown Tournament which had taken place the day prior.

Archery

Geoffrey de Wulf and Gareth Robertson supervised the archery field for those who wished to take part. Their Majesties asked that all those entering Crown Tournament participate in at least one archery contest resulting in a score being awarded prior to the tournament being held.

A&S competitions

The Kingdom A&S competitions attracted a lot of interest via the booking forms, but were fairly light on entries that eventuated. This may be in part due to the additional complexities involved in sending competition entries internationally. Thanks to all the judges and entrants.


Places where we could improve

Roses, wreaths, ribbons

We were unfamiliar with some of the ceremony and custom surrounding Crown Tournament (things we'd seen, but never paid much attention to).

  • We didn't know we needed roses for the Queen, Order of the Rose and Consorts of finalists. Luckily, we'd brought roses for the feast, so we had some available. Thanks to Countess Beatrice for her gracious help here.
  • We knew we needed rosemary, ribbons and bells for wreaths and A&S prizes. We weren't sure who made what and who bought what. We didn't know that the Queen and her attendants would make the wreaths during the tournament. So, while we had everything that was essential (rosemary, ribbon, scissors, string) we could have had a better-equipped and more medieval-looking "wreath making pack". Thanks to Medb for her gracious help here. 

A description of these customs and a list of useful items (and who should provide them) would be a useful addition to the (otherwise excellent) Crown Event Handbook.

Finances - tracking advances and reimbursements

Our bookings system worked well, and tracking income was very easy. In the final accounting, everything was as it should be.

The advances and reimbursements were a little more complicated than they needed to be - not disastrous, but work we could have avoided with a smoother system. In future we'd like:

  • one member of the stewarding team making requests to for money to be paid out of the Ildhafn account
  • that person to have at least read-access to the account (mostly our fault - council approved it, we didn't make it happen in time)
  • prompt attention from signatories to process payment requests (mostly this means making sure our signatories are always amongst our most active members; hard because changing signatories is hard)
  • whoever manages bookings might sensibly also be the 'accountant' for the event - the person who calculates the available budget in each category that is dependent on total bookings (e.g. the budget available for each meal)

Loaner gear

We were very pleased to be able to offer loaner bedding, towels and feast-gear to all the travellers who requested it - thanks to everyone who lent stuff!

However, arranging it was more time-consuming than we thought it could be. It's surprisingly difficult to persuade people to tell you exactly how much they can lend. Another time, we'd delegate this entire area to one person, preferably without other major pre-event commitments. Also, the stewards provided about half the loaner gear themselves - definitely a hassle we'd prefer to avoid another time (or get someone else to manage for us).

Lending and retrieval worked by far the best where one person could lend an entire set - "here's your box of bedding, return to Lady X". It was much more complicated both to see that everyone had what they needed, and to get it back to owners at the end, where sets were made up from several people. Another time, we'd probably only accept complete sets, even though it would mean less loaner gear overall.

Shuttles vs rental cars

Shuttles, in Auckland, to Hunua Falls (or any other site at a comparable distance from the airport) are completely uneconomical. For a weekend long event travellers are much better off renting a car and car-pooling (2-4 per car works well, and costs much less than a shuttle). 

Another time, we'd suggest that from the start. The stewards' involvement, if any, can be to put people with similar flight times in touch with one another, where desired. 


 

Assistance - extra thank yous

So many people did so many things to make this event happen. Some are mentioned elsewhere in the report, some here below (in no particular order). Many others we will have missed, and many more we will never even have seen. All the stewards came out of the event inspired by what a wonderful thing the SCA is, and what generous, helpful and courteous people make up our kingdom.

  • Ranif - what didn't you help with?
  • Jan - above and beyond with the laundry
  • hanging lamps - Rudiger and Aleynora
  • all the cooks - Ludwig, Aveline, Margaretta, Vettoria, Katherine, Svartr
  • above and beyond when helping in the kitchen - Maheshti, Robert, katherine kerr, Tariq ibn Jelal, and many others
  • trial feast dinner - Vettoria, Maheshti, Robert, Anna, Katherine and all the others who made this work (including diners!)
  • re-painting thrones - William de Cameron
  • pre-baking pies - Anna, Katherine, Katherina, Jess
  • Llewellyn - fixer-of-things for the stewards
  • helping Their Majesties and Their Excellencies - Ginevra, Katherne, Medb, Ranif, Catherina and others
  • Ginevra - best lacer-upper ever, bringing tea and chocolate
  • Ouriel - transport, rides, airport pick-ups, always ready to lend a hand with anything (at his second ever event)
  • Maximilian - lists, and the gorgeous lists display
  • heralds - Ceara, William, Ginevra and others
  • marshals - William, Caleb, Dameon and others
  • judges - Leonie, Edward and others
  • making sure the Master of Defense ceremony went well - Leonie, Leofric, Blodeuwydd, Their Majesties, Dameon, William, Caleb, Ludwig, William and the Order of the White Scarf (and many more)
  • transport for baronial gear - Isabel, Bridget, Amira for lending your trailers and floats
  • quartermaster - Ludwig, for storing the stuff the rest of the time
  • firewood - Isabel
  • arranging competitions before event - Edward, William
  • general set-up - so many of you I can't list you all - but thank you to every one of you!
  • pack-down - the same thanks to all of you !
  • katherine and Bartholomew - hall decorations
  • entertainments - Elizabeth, Elena, Gregory, Maheshti, Cicilia, Ludwig, Geoffrey, Gareth and all the wonderful performers who practiced so hard, making new things and learning new material
  • hospitality - all billetted a traveller, lent some gear, offered a ride, looked after a newcomer, etc
  • tokens - Bastian for making them, Ginevra for bringing and stringing them
  • gardeners - for herbs, lemons, bay, and many other additions to the feast and meals
  • fixing archery frames - William de Cameron
  • soteltie making - Maheshti
  • banners - we borrowed banners from Cluain and Southron Gaard - thanks to their Excellencies Ildhafn, and Her Excellency Southron Gaard, for transporting them
  • katherine kerr and Catherine d'Arc for the Kingdom Event Handbook
  • Alexandra and Grim - cleaning the bathrooms so well the caretaker was astonished
  • George - site caretaker, who was fixing things all weekend

 

Marketing the SCA

An unexpected bonus of Crown Tournament was a very positive multi-page article on the SCA in the Sunday Star Times (a print newspaper/magazine) and on Stuff (a news/magazine website). Serendipitously, a reporter working on an article on re-enactement in Auckland made contact with the group shortly before the event. The reporter and a photographer attended the Sunday of Crown Tournament. 

My favourite line

At face value, the SCA is a bunch of geeks playing dress-up. But it's also a bastion of long-forgotten values, skill-sets, and community. 

- Richard Meadows

Many thanks to those who spent part of their event being interviewed and photographed - you contributed to a great piece of publicity for the SCA in New Zealand.

 


Odds and ends that worked

  • Mailing list for event attendees - we could send out announcements (e.g. site rules, schedule updates, etc) without spamming the Announce list, or missing people.
  • Printed chores roster - by chore, and by person, prominently displayed in the hall
  • Stewards' quarters above the kitchen
  • Inviting the site caretaker to the feast - he loved it, we earned lots of brownie-points 
  • Buying all the food in one hit (save the feast) - got excellent deals, allowed out-of-town cooks to help us (thanks!)
  • Gmail account + "@ildhafn alias". A shared inbox for the stewards was great; likewise shared docs folders, spreadsheets, etc. We were all up to date, and could swap tasks between us easily.
  • Closing bookings a fortnight before the event: much less stressy for stewards and cooks, having an extra week (and an extra weekend) to do things that can only be done once attendance is finalised.