A multi-kingdom team of organizers are planning the event, which is to be held in the Barony of Southern Wastes in the extreme southern end of Trimaris later this year. The event flyer (see the "original article" link at the end of this story) talks about it as "first annual", but given the amount of controversy, this may be its only year — if in fact it happens at all.
SCAtoday.net has confirmed with at two sources inside the event planning committee that they appear to have run afoul not only of SCA policy, but also potentially of modern-world law. The two sources spoke with SCAtoday.net on the condition that their real names not be used, so in this article we will refer to them as "Lady Falcon" and "Lord Penguin". For the sake of full disclosure, we should note that neither of our sources is actually the Autocrat for the event; the Autocrats themselves unfortunately could not be reached for comment prior to our publication deadline. (SCAtoday.net, in the interest of fairness, will publish an official response from the Autocrats of the Iron Peer competition should they wish to issue a statement.)
The trouble began when a Marshal from the Middle Kingdom, having seen the event flyer on the Internet, began to question the safety of the planned Muggle Pas d'Armes. A letter to the Autocrats concerning the plan to have non-SCA people (adults, but definitely not members) participate in combat activities as part of a demo/event combination raised concerns about whether or not this was allowed by Society and Kingdom policy. The Autocrats insist that it is allowed, since only boffer-style weapons would be used and the participants are adults who will have signed waivers, but the Marshal raising the issue was not satisfied and took his complaint to an email list. That was apparently what set off the firestorm of controversy.
According to the list post, the Iron Peer Autocrats were "really rude" to the Marshal, and "basically told me to butt out, that it was not a Middle Kingdom event." The complaint on the public list started a long and heated discussion thread, with others raising concerns about event safety, sanitation, and funding. A number of people expressed grave concern with the event's funding, because the prizes (which are expensive international research trips) are to be funded from event proceeds — something our Exchequer contacts tell us is "a very, very, VERY bad idea" (as one colorfully put it).
Logistics for the event have raised eyebrows as well, as the organizers seem to have intentionally left much of the "planning" of the event to the very last minute, making it part of the Iron Peer contest that the Peers have to adapt to the adverse circumstances. One letter on the e-mail list asked, "Are these Autocrats that stupid, or are they that lazy? Either way, I'll skip this one, thanks, and read about it later."
Safety and sanitation issues have been raised, including the use of locally-hunted waterfowl in the feast. The event flyer claims that the organizers have secured hunting permits, but experienced feast cooks are concerned with the safety of eating game that is butchered by amateurs and not professionals. The hunting/snaring of the game has itself raised safety concerns, since the event will be in the deep southern tip of Trimaris, much of which kingdom has a lot of alligators and dangerous snakes in abundance. But our inside source, "Lady Falcon", dismisses those fears, and claims that "there are no alligators anywhere close to the event site" and that people walk around in the nearby wilderness all the time "and almost never even see a snake in the daytime."
Several Chirurgeons who saw the e-mail thread weighed in with their own concerns as well. One Chirurgeon who happens also to be a Pelican said, "I know fighters in the real Middle Ages might have had no time for water breaks during battles, but that's a really dangerous thing to try to re-create at a tourney in southernmost Trimaris in the summer." According to the event flyer, the Muggles in the tourney will have unlimited water, but the Chivalry entrants will be limited unless they buy extra rations with their points from the tourney itself.
As of late yesterday evening, the event site said nothing about claims our sources have made that the event "may" be cancelled upon review by SCA authorities at the kingdom or Society level. As of this morning, however, the event site (linked from the SCAtoday.net calendar entry — see the "original article" link below) seems to have been taken offline. We were not able to reach "Lady Falcon" by email in time for deadline, but our other staff contact, "Lord Penguin", says the event is not likely to happen due to all the complaints.
"Lord Penguin" says there has been internal conflict within the staff about how to handle the controversy, and he denies that anyone from the SCA Board of Directors or the Kingdom of Trimaris has ordered the event shut down — "yet" (his word). In an e-mail message, he writes: "I tried to tell [another staff member] that we would get into trouble with the funding thing. I've been an Exchequer before, and I know the rules. They wouldn't listen to me, and [Lady Falcon] was so dead-set to do this thing and get her cookie, she talked the Autocrats into running with it." According to "Lord Penguin", the web site is only offline temporarily due to a technical problem and will be back online in a few days — unless the event is cancelled, which apparently remains a distinct possibility.
The event flyer is linked from the "original article" link below.
Time to 'fess up! If you hadn't figured this out already, this story and the event flyer linked from it were April Fool's Day parodies. We hope you enjoyed them, but now that it's almost April 2 in our time zone, it's time to retire the joke. Have a great weekend!