Mahault van der Eych
The weather promised a great deal as we loaded up the van and headed out for Rising Waters. We hit the road about 7, with a brief stop to play "Freak The Mundanes" at the Golden Arches. Arriving at about 9:30, we discovered the first of many disheartening facts about the competition. Everything seemed so small! The parking lot, the hall, even the room was tiny and cramped! Not to be party poopers we set up our crafts. Iolanda entered her now (in)famous bobbin lace, with a really delicate little pattern of hearts and the drinking horn she made for Berend (including a hand woven strap). Normand was showing his chainmail (the coaster) that highlighted his skill and enjoyment very nicely. Ivana entered in the Bardic competition with two recitations. Berend set up the Osberg bed (on which Teah had a nap to demonstrate how it was used). He also showed the Seax and Sicle he made. I included some Viking soap and the jerkin and trunk hose that Berend wore to Coronation.
Once we set up our stuff, we wandered around the merchants for a bit and went for a walk around town. We sat outside for lunch to watch some of the fighting, the weather was so nice! We also spent quite a while admiring the work of several other craftspeople in the competition. Berend and I had several really good conversations with other entrants about their items and learned quite a bit.
During the judging, Iolanda was informed her horn was "perfect" by none other than Domnail Galbraith! I recieved some terrific feedback about my work which I really appreciated. Normand and his new best friend, Theign Cynred were seen muttering in dark corners about chainmail and were spotted later that day looking at Normand's "collection". Hmmmm....
Now I'm no expert by any stretch of the imagination but I must say I was very disappointed in the competition and the event as a whole. To begin with, the location was a difficult place to feel comfortable in, as it was the basement of a church and covered with religious paraphenalia. We were told right away that we were not permitted to set up chairs and spent the entire day standing around feeling lost. The event flyer informed us there would be Children's events which turned out to be very misleading; the children were expected to entertain themselves in the Nursery.
The A&S Competition was also not what we expected. There was no structure to the judging; it seemed that the judges were just grabbed out of the crowd to give a critique about the items. Iolanda's bobbin lace judge actually knew less about it than her! Part of the problem seemed to be the lack of a schedule for judging. No-one knew if an item had been judged or if anyone was going to judge it. We ended up spending the better part of the day standing around in the room waiting for someone to happen by. I also felt that the A&S side of the event was being relegated to a corner and largely ignored. The feeling I was left with was that hosting the A&S was a big inconvenience for the event autocrats.
I don't mean to sound like I'm trying to be nasty or hurtfull about the event. I just feel very strongly about A&S and feel that if the event is not carefully planned, the impact will be felt by all involved. We have so many talented artisans and craftspeople in Ealdormere and it seems quite a shame to not promote this side of the SCA as well as we can. I spoke to several others at this event and the feelings I had were shared by them; if the event looks like this next year, we're not going to bother.
On the bright side, it was quite a lot of fun going on a road trip with Eirik, Iolanda, Normand and Ivana. The silliness and singing really made up for what was a discouraging introduction to Kingdom A&S. And the cheesecake incident was pretty funny!