Rowany Festival, Dusty but Cool!

Paul Sleigh (Bat) and Damian Forlani-Brennan (Reynardine) report on the 2006 Rowany Festival held in Yass, New South Wales, in the Kingdom of Lochac. The event was hosted by the Barony of Rowany.

Bat writes:

Just back from Operation Dusty Dynasty, aka the experiment to see how long we could survive Festival as an entire family, including a just-turned-one-year-old. The result: success.

Set up last Saturday, after "play testing" our tent arrangement in the back yard for a month. Configuration was: a kitchen tent, two sleeping tents and a play tent, on a tarpaulin floor to keep the batpup out of the dirt as much as possible. There was a strange sameness about our camp: our family, including Katharine (Katy) the Batpup; next door included Mathilde, mundanely Katharine; in front was a Catherine (sp?) from Ealdormere, next to her were Crispin and Joan with their daughters, one of whom is Kathryn (sp?); across the way was Thomasine, mundanely Catherine. Confusion was reduced by the widespread use of SCA names, thank the gods.

Arrived on Thursday, late (aimed to leave home 2pm; actually left home after 6pm). V. v. glad that three of the four tents were up and running; went to bed. Dusty, a bit cold but not bad because of cloud cover.

Friday, I popped back home to get stuff we'd forgot (kettle - d'oh!). Had a shower -- bliss! Came back, wandered around with BatPup. Beloved mostly stayed in campsite, which was made especially pleasant by our neighbours, Gabrielle, Mathilde and Odin, who were lovely and gave her coffee. Really made Festival for us, they did; it's nice to have cool neighbours. Beth (older daughter) played with Bacchusian and Politarchopolan kids and had a grand old time. Carried BatPup around in sling a bit; everyone marvelled that she managed to be simultaneously (a) cute and (b) like me; it's a mystery we can't explain.

Friday night, it rained and gusted all night. Became easy to tell the newbies from the old farts: the newbies called this "the Rowany Festival Storm"; the old farts didn't even notice. Old fart principle: if fewer than a five tents fly fully over the tavern roof, it's not a storm worth mentioning.

Saturday morning, discovered downside of tarpaulin floor: mud stays for longer. Managed to mostly dry out mattresses (our tent leaked v. slightly) and came through largely unscathed. Weather improved. Market day v. v. spiffing: Beth was untempted by shonky dealer in plastic baubles this year, which was a relief, and in fact spent her saved pocket money very wisely. She also boffered and arched and played like a mad aleck.

Saturday night was the coldest night I can remember from any Festival. Bitterly cold. Still, at least it didn't rain any more, and the wind was slight. We had a bardic circle at Arrowsreach camp, because the standard Festival policy for the organisation of bardic events (excluding choral singing) seems to be "get Finn, Blod or Fruitbat to do it" and since I believe Finn was off producing a Persephone this weekend, Blod and I did indeed do it. I have plans for next year, but more on that later. The Circle was a good one; Vandal from Arrowsreach sung most of Efenwalt Whystle's songbook, and many others performed and told stories. And yes, Wolf told a story; and yes, it was good; and yes, godsdammit, he's a bard. Bugger all that sing/no-sing rubbish I was spouting; a bard is someone who can make the audience glad they didn't pop out for a privy break; he's one.

Sunday was hot during the day, like Saturday, and knee-bitingly cold in the night. Beth got made a member of the Mouse Guard, which left her boggled and utterly chuffed! She's most annoyed that we have to change royalty and wants Queen Yolande to stay in the job full-time; I promised I'd pass the suggestion on.

Each morning, my Beloved and I basically told ourselves "we'll see how we go today". If it becomes too difficult, with the BatPup-chasing and the dust and the insufficiently comfy mattress and so on, we'd pack up and go. And we did, indeed, survive until Monday night, which is when we'd planned we'd go. So I'd call it a very successful Festival from our POV. Many things I'd change, but I plan to put my time where my mouth is and actually volunteer. I'll nut out ideas, talk them over with other people (they fall into two areas - bardic circle stuff and heraldry) and see if I can give the next stewards a coherent proposal with costings where required and some benchmarks for success. But in general, Alfar and Gudrun and their huge team excelled themselves. Groo particularly: he was the god of the waterworks, dealing with privies and showers.

As for court events: I know Baron Ildhafn, Sir Vitale, is now a Pelican, and Baroness Leonie de Gray is now a Laurel; I missed the other courts so I know nothing more of that sort of thing. The new tourney style seems to have been a resounding success -- really well received, to the point where I think some fighters would be disappointed if it didn't stick around at least as an option. Comments came to my ears along the lines of "last year I got one-shotted by Sir X in the first round and by Sir Y in the second, and that was it; this year I got to play for as long as I wanted to". The winner was a Western knight whose name I can't recall. And to those who said that if Lochac became a kingdom then nobody would visit from OS: we had visitors from Caid, the West (including Carla and Victor! Yay!) and Ealdormere at least, and more besides to judge from the various accents. These fears, it seems, were unfounded.

Short form: Festival was cool, in more ways than one. V. glad we went.

: Bat :

Reynardine adds:

I was a bit too brain damaged from not enough sleep to tell much about the rest of the awards from Festival but I saw all but one court and they were all entertaining - especially the one with the Lochac children's militia and the map puzzle pieces.

Yes it was dusty and occasionally cold (-2 degrees a couple of nights) but nothing worse than years in. The tent I was in had a broken zip and I woke up in the middle of the night with my feet out in the frost a few times, although I suspect someone might have helped (?) just for the fun of it. As someone already commented, old hands like me wouldn't think a few tents blowing away was worth commenting on. There was just enough rain to keep the dust down and have fires back this year.

In spite of dire predictions there were plenty of toilets and hot showers. Alfar and the stewarding team did a marvellous job this year and handled burst water mains and all manner of other dire emergencies without any obvious effort or concern. They just got things quietly done.

I fought the last part of the pie d'armes Thursday and then took a break from fighting for the next two days after inflaming my back injury. (I tore a muscle in my back before I left home doing last minute armouring, and I was limping around for the first few days, but I had come good again by the Sunday.)

There were quite a few New Zealanders and Americans over, and the pickup fighting alone was worth the trip!

I am seriously thinking about getting some horsehair for a helm liner after the discussion at the armourers meeting on the Friday. There was lots of show and tell including a very nice black and white helm from Corny. There were some useful tips on techniques for blacking metal and an interesting power hammer made from a ball on a jack hammer.

During the armour meeting Sir Phillipe did a streak past from the showers... resulting in a collective eeeuw and many hands being thrown in front of faces! Lets just say he is a very furry man and is now known as Phillipe the bear. Oh the humanity!

The play in the newly finished hall (Mandragora?) was an unexpected delight. It was very professional, highly amusing and more than a little risqué. The laurels made them put on an encore evening performance, which I am sorry to have missed, because it was worth seeing twice.

I was back fighting on Sunday in the fort battle. I got shot by archers constantly in the res battle, but I managed to punch through the (aptly named) murder hole into a wall of pikes a couple of times. I was still nursing my back and trying very hard not to counter rotate. Once the archers left the field and the mesh was off I fought more like my old self and I got in a few kills before Sir Brusi skewered me.

There was plenty of good food on merchants row this year, including a coffee shop and even a Turkish takeaway, as well as the local bakers and sausage-inna-bun from last year. The wine bar was open again with the best and cheapest selection of premium wines ever! I spent a few hours comparing notes on Marg River wines with the proprietor Charles of the Park and had some nice reds and a grand botrytis. They had some tasty looking snacks which I was too full of pirate food to try, but I did get to try one of Master Del's very tasty lamb and rosemary pies. Mmmmmm!

The fair day Saturday in the main tavern was as packed as any after Christmas sale! It gave me a chance to catch up with everyone I had missed as they passed by my table. I gazumped one of the Caid knights on buying one of Marcus' Rose armouries stomachers, and then gave it to him. I don't think they do largesse in his kingdom the way we do here, and twenty minutes of hilarity followed while we tried to bridge a vast cultural divide. Worth every penny for the entertainment value alone!

The pirate party Saturday night was a little subdued this year without Agro. I do remember it picking up after we served the pirate punch but things are a little blurry after that. I do remember being with the last group to retire around 330am, so I slept in late on Sunday and missed the mass this year, although I was close enough to hear the singing, which sounded very cool.

Monday was the fighter auction. A rousing speech from Alfar got everyone in the right head set to challenge the best, and like most people I started with the royal peers and worked my way down through the knights and then whoever was left. Thanks to Alfar's speech people felt comfortable with withdrawing whenever they felt "done" but I doubt anyone left before they had their fill. It was a more relaxed format than previous years in, and that allowed many to fight better than they perhaps might. By the start of the second hour all but the old hands were hitting like wet spaghetti, and there were plenty withdrawing before time and more than a couple of hold calls with injuries. I was able to keep on hitting well through the later rounds only by losing my shield. I switched briefly to two-hander till I popped a rivet in my new Alfar-gauntlets and then I went two swords and "open on all eight sides" Musashi style (energy saving side on stance with both swords lowered). It was getting hard to lift my arms above waist level. Lots of staminade got me through almost to the final siren and my 32nd fight and tenth and final defeat. My arms are still too tired to lift today but no bruises - a miracle considering the number of fights. I saw lots of people limping around or holding ice packs after the list. Although it was an endurance marathon there were also very many inspirational fights and deeds of valour and some very definite plusses to the format. I for one hope to see more token tourneys.

During the list Sir Gregory announced that sneak thieves stole a lot of cash from the Innilgard camp - I would not want to be in their shoes with an angry Gregory on their trail. It was very sad to see the loss of trust.

A chivalry meeting pushed the start time for the combat of the thirty from 2 till well after 3. Sad news for me as I was pushing my departure time to get to the airport by then. The numbers took a dive after the attrition of the fighter auction, so it was more a combat of the six or seven each. What I managed to see looked very cool with some awesome banners and armour and the French herald in particular did some great theatre! It was disappointing to see some bar faceplates still in evidence, but most people put in a huge effort. Baron Stephen and Duke Cornelius looked particularly spiffy. I hope they run it again next year!

Fondest memories for me this year included watching the play "La Mandragola;" a "Yeh you tagged me" from Cornelius in the fort battle; pickups with Sir Rhys and Sir Gareth from Caid; getting stabbed in the fighter auction by Lord Victor from An Tir (after his knight hit me with it minutes earlier and after I was READY for it); the Partners of Peers support breakfast at Attica; and hearing the bagpipes from the battlements of the Riverhaven camp.