Going to an event
Help! You want to go to your first event! What do you need, how can you find
out how to get there, and what will you do once you arrive?
Fear not - this guide should give you the information you
Essential Stuff to Have
According to the rules of the SCA, there are two things that you will
definitely need whenever you go to an event:
1. You will need to behave like a lady or gentleman (i.e. "politely"); and
2. You will need to wear some kind of attempt at pre-1650 historical dress
(we call such clothing garb).
The first requirement - behaviour - is important, because in the SCA, we
are trying to emulate the ideals of courtesy, chivalry and honour. So be
polite, and address people as "my lord" or "my lady" (whichever is
The second requirement - garb - is a little more tricky. There are a
number of ways to get yourself some garb.
* You may be able to borrow garb from someone in your local group. People
are generally very willing to help out newcomers and there might be
something available in your size. Don't be shy about asking. In fact, some
groups maintain a collection of "loaner garb" for new folks to wear when
they first start going to events. Talk to your local chatelaine (the
officer in charge of taking care of newcomers).
* Another (and more permanent) way of acquiring garb is to make it. Most
people in Ealdormere have made garb for themselves at one time or another,
so there are lots of people around who can help you out, even if you're a
complete beginner in sewing. Again, talk to your chatelaine to get
* You can also buy garb. Sometimes garb is sold at events, and sometimes
people have old garb they want to sell. You may even be able to find
someone that you can pay to make you some garb. Ask around your local
More Essential Stuff to Have
Information about the event
It's difficult to attend an event if you don't know when it is or how to
get there! A calendar is available, and most events have links to flyers
with all the information you'll need. You can also get that information
from the Kingdom newsletter.
SCA events almost always charge a fee for you to come in the door. This
fee is usually in the area of $5 - sometimes more, sometimes less. And
because events usually last for an entire day, you will probably also want
enough money on hand to buy lunch and dinner for yourself (there is often
food for sale at events at lunchtime, or you can leave the event to get
food from a restaurant or a fast food place or something). Plus, if there
are merchants selling their wares at an event, you might want to do a
Most events have a feast in the evening. This is a huge meal - in fact,
often several meals served one after another - with multiple courses.
However; plates, glasses and cutlery are not provided - if you are sitting
the feast, you are expected to bring your own, and they should look as
medieval as possible. Such items are often available for purchase from
merchants at an event. There are numerous stores in the modern world which
sell feast gear items that can pass for medieval. Members of your local
group may also be willing to lend you some items.
Other handy things to have in your feast kit:
Just remember that feasts have limited seating! If you are going to do the
feast, it is best to reserve a seat some weeks ahead of time, otherwise
you may find when you get to the event that there are no more spaces
What to Do at an Event
There's lots at an event to keep you busy! Here are some of the activities
that you can usually find at an event:
* martial activities (good to watch or participate in)
* arts and sciences classes
* shopping at merchants
* court (this is when the Royalty make public presentations and conduct
business - more about that further below)
Don't be shy about approaching people with questions about what they're
doing and how you might start doing it, too. SCA folk (known as SCAdians)
are generally very helpful and love to talk about their hobby.
Another thing you might want to do at an event is help. An event takes a
lot of volunteers to make it happen, and there's lots of stuff during the
day that needs to be done. Plus, helping out is a great way to meet new
people. Help is often needed in the kitchen, behind the bar, at the front
desk (known as troll) and in countless places throughout the day. If
you're interested in helping with anything, ask at troll whether there's
anything you can do.
Some events have a very specific focus, such as dance, or archery. In such
cases, there are obviously going to be limits on what types of activities
there will be, but if the focus of the event appeals to you, then go!
For all events, the flyer will give you a better idea of what activities
will be going on.
As mentioned above, court is where Royalty make public presentations and
conduct official business. Usually this involves giving out awards to
people who have done good things, but court can also involve the giving
and receiving of gifts, the making of announcements, or just about
anything that strikes the fancy of the Royalty.
People involved in a court:
* The Royalty themselves - the King and/or Queen, Prince and/or Princess,
or a Baron and/or Baroness. Sometimes there is more than one set of
Royalty and they each hold their own court.
* The person doing all the yelling is called the herald. It is the job of
the herald to be the voice of the Royalty, and to run court according to
the Royalty's wishes. This is not to say that the Royalty don't ever speak
during court, but the herald certainly does most of the talking.
* There has to be a seneschal (president of an SCA group) present for
court to be "official". They don't actually do anything during court, they
just stand there so the whole thing is legitimized.
* There will probably also be various other people standing around behind
the Royalty's thrones. They are the Royalty's entourage and are there to
help out the Royalty with anything they might need. The helpers holding
weapons are special - they're the champions of the Royalty.
If there is court at an event, there are codes of behaviour for court that
you should know about.
* Court begins with the Royalty processing in. When the procession starts,
you are expected to stand. As the Royalty process in front of you, you are
expected to bow or curtsey.
* While court is going on, if you are in the audience, you are expected to
listen quietly, same as if you were watching a play in the theatre.
* There will be times when clapping and cheering is called for. These
times are hard to miss, because everyone else will be doing it - loudly!
So feel free to join in. The cheer that you hear everyone yelling is
"Wassail". This is Ealdormere-speak for "Hurrah".
* If you are called up into court (very unlikely at your first event, but
if you stick around in the SCA, it will eventually happen), you should
first make sure you are not bearing any blade longer than your forearm
(i.e. anything more serious than a belt knife). If you are, remove all
such weapons and set them down in your chair before going up. Then, when
you are about five to ten feet away from the Royalty, bow or curtsey.
After that, walk up before the Royalty and kneel, while you listen to what
they have to say (it's very easy to know where you're supposed to kneel
because there will usually be cushions there for the purpose). When the
Royalty is done and you are dismissed, get up, bow or curtsey again, and
then walk back to your seat.
* When court is ended, the Royalty will process back out. When this
happens, you are once again expected to rise, and to bow or curtsey as the
Royalty pass by you.
For your first few courts, there will probably be a lot going on that you
don't understand. Try to find someone you know from your local group that
you can sit with, so they can quietly whisper explanations in your ear.
You will probably spend the majority of time at your first event looking
around and gawking at all the wonderful sights. And probably a lot will
happen that you won't understand. It is much easier to go to your first
event if you have already introduced yourself to your local group - that
way, there will be people there that you will know and that you can talk
to when you get confused. Another advantage of already knowing people at
an event who have more experience in the SCA is that if there is an aspect
of the Middle Ages that you are particularly interested in, they will be
able to introduce you to other people around the Kingdom who share your
If you don't know anybody at your first event, that's okay, too. As
mentioned before, SCAdians are generally a very helpful bunch of people
and you shouldn't be shy about introducing yourself to people and
explaining that you're new and curious.
The important thing is to go out there and have a good time!