Bright Ideas and True Confessions: How and What to Do and Why


Autocrat's Check-List [1]

  1. Early Planning
    • check date against SCA and non-SCA calendar
      • what else is going on that weekend that might affect this? (balloon fiesta, rodeo, Princess Di visit, Super Bowl, etc.)
    • site considerations
      • is it big enough?
      • can you afford it?
      • learn all site restrictions, and prepare to enforce them
        notify appropriate officers-constable, etc.
        inform populace
    • fill out any forms your kingdom requires
      • copy for you, seneschal, baron, whoever; plus upper level
      • mail them
    • attend all of your local group meetings, or send a representative
    • consider deputies (and assistants or alternates) for:
      • parking
      • camp assignment/tourney field demarcation
      • toilet placement/maintenance
      • feast, teas, other meals, snacks for royalty
      • tables, tents, thrones
      • merchants
      • combat activities
      • entertainment/dancing
      • arts displays or contests
      • workshops/classes
      • children's activities
      • gate duty (called "troll booth" in some kingdoms)
        bulletin board
      • crash space
    • outline a schedule (Keep it flexible. Things will change.)
      • set up
      • sign-ups
      • courts
      • tournaments or contests or classes
      • meals / mealtimes
      • quiet times? (is there a curfew, or a "too-early-to-make-noise" rule?)
      • peers' meetings or officers meetings
      • clean-up time
    • sleeping arrangements
      • out-of-kingdom royalty flying in, need tents or homes?
      • other royalty need special arrangements? maps?
    • entertainment (time/place/notification)
    • food
      • buying
      • storing
    • facilities
    • physical set-up
      • will you need a truck for lists poles? large pavilions?
      • do you need to rent tables? chairs? toilets?
      • who's bringing what? Who will verify and remind?
      • mark SCA-owned items with a label; list what you have
    • map
      • make new map or verify old one
      • drive the road, checking distances, road numbers, landmarks
      • check from two (or more?) directions
  2. Publicity
    • SCA newsletters
      • consider special announcements for neighboring groups
      • your own kingdom's newsletter (plus principality, if applicable)
    • flyers/articles should list
      • schedule
      • site restrictions and facilities
      • proximity to services (ice, food, gasoline)
      • fees, and exactly how checks should be made out
      • addresses, phone numbers, mundane names
      • a good map, or a note saying when a good map will appear
    • mundane
      • if it's something requiring mundane notification or publicity of any kind, find out when and how to do it
  3. Last Minute
    • verify site/key
    • go over check list
    • call all deputies
      • encourage them
      • thank them
      • ask what problems are left to solve;
        be specific ("How's it going?" might not produce useful responses.)
    • be sure there's a cash box with change ready for taking site fees
    • be first at the site, but not until you've done the things above
    • be prepared to cover for late deputies without having an attack
  4. At the Event
    • smile, breathe deeply, exude confidence
    • try to keep to schedule
    • keep royalty, officers informed of what needs to be done
    • check with deputies-especially at the gate
      • encourage them
      • thank them; tell them they're wonderful
      • see if there's anything they need
        try to coordinate one trip in for forgotten things
    • visit camps of out-of-kingdom visitors
      • are they comfortable?
      • are they happy?
      • is there anything anyone could do?
    • walk the site, talk with constables/sheriff/guards
    • keep smiling, breathing deeply and exuding confidence
    • soothe disappointed people (if there are any)
      • remember problems for next year's list
    • think how much worse it might have been if you hadn't prepared so well
    • thank royalty for helpfulness (if they are)
    • try to be there yourself to speak with
      • park rangers
      • police officers
      • security officers who may come on site (or send your trusted deputies)
  5. Clean up
    • be sure all borrowed or rented items are safely returned
      • have a list of these, and also of SCA-owned supplies
    • supplies:
      • trash bags/ties
      • spray cleansers/paper towels
      • rakes, shovels, knives/scissors (to cut twine, tape)
      • if building has none: mop, vacuum, cleanser, rags or towels
      • boxes for oddments, lost and found
    • check the parking lot for trash and more lost and found
    • restore the site as it was
      • (furniture, lights, windows; gates, fences)
    • be the last to leave
  6. Follow-up
    • return keys, offer to go with the caretaker to inspect the site
    • check to see that borrowed and rented items are returned
    • see that SCA-owned items are returned to proper storage places
    • see these things to completion (by you or the proper assistant):
      • lost and found list (typed and published)
      • financial report
        are all receipts gathered? reimbursed?
      • lists report
      • herald's report
      • arts report (if there were contests)
    • send article(s) to newsletter(s)
      • tell good parts
      • thank helpers by name
      • describe successes (for the benefit of autocrats after you)
      • apologize for any failure (to benefit your soul and reputation)
        don't blame this article
    • write thank-you notes to some or all of:
      • assistants
      • particularly helpful visitors, officers, on-site volunteers
      • site owners
    • attend next shire/barony meeting to report and answer questions
    • write a letter to the royalty (even if they were there)
      • commend people who were especially helpful
      • name those who won every contest
      • name those who won tournaments
      • name those whose chivalry or courtesy were most apparent
      • thank the royals for coming (if they did)
      • say you were sorry they missed it (if they did)

You could make your event more memorable just by adding artsy touches to what you're already doing. Do you print announcements to be handed out at the door? Could you print them on something so interesting or fold in so nice a way, that people might keep them as souvenirs? Nice tickets, place cards, etc. can help, too. The same people who do art for newsletter covers might do a little piece of art just for this event-like a logo-which you can put on event announcments, reservation acknowledgements, notices on site, tickets, etc. Instead of a little piece of ribbon or yarn to show that a person has paid for the feast, maybe a little badge with this logo (which could be displayed or concealed as the owner prefers, and kept afterwards as a memento). An artist may have a whole notebook of never-before-used doodles, or things used long ago and never seen yet by newer members. You don't need to spend any extra money on this-just extra thought and effort.
Next article: What the Trunk Fairy Might Bring You



[1] This has every part of every checklist I can ever remember using, seeing, or hearing about. Steal the parts you want; photocopy and cross off what doesn't apply, or if you'd be crossing off more than you left on, just type out what's good for you. Just reading it should give you a dozen thoughts you didn't have before, unless you've autocratted an interkingdom event or a whopping great camping out Crown tournament. Many people have.
Copyright © by Sandra Dodd, 1991
Original html design by
Ninth Circle/Alia Marie de Blois

additions by AElflaed of Duckford

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That was in the days before cellphones and text messaging. Medieval life is easier in the 21st Century!
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