The first event that we held at Newgrange Lodge was Drachenwald Summer Coronation 2017. It went great - we had really amazing feedback and were absolutely thrilled with the venue and its staff.
A few weeks after the event, we sat down together (over Skype) for a wash-up meeting to talk about the things that went well, what could have worked better, and what we would do differently in the future. With Coronet of Fools taking place in the same venue, we’re revisiting the notes from that meeting to help us. Here they are.
What worked well
Organising in advance who’ll do what tasks and when they’re going to do it. no need for a show of hands. Jasper did a phenomenal job, went really well. Might be less necessary at smaller events
Genius was tapping not just the shire but people who were visiting there is goodwill there; getting it lined up in advance made a huge difference.
Did it feel controlled? Or did we feel frazzled? It generally did feel pretty controlled (apart from universal sense of impending doom; everyone gets that.) In the rare instances where something didn’t run as planned, the backup plan ran well, and there weren’t many of those.
We had some pure dumb luck: poorer weather would have made a difference. Kids did a good job keeping fighters watered.
Fencing was great fun, could have happily fenced for a couple of hours.
Fighters did single bout instead of three, which helped them keep to time.
Liked that we didn’t try to completely fill the schedule. There was sitting down and chatting time, and you wouldn’t feel like you were missing out on something. One of the things about a kingdom event is catching up with people. (This was partly an outcome of peerage meetings.)
Putting all the peerage meetings in the same room worked very well; shepherding the peers in and out of the royals room was very handy.
Feast: what made it go on time was confidence, quality and enthusiasm of the people helping during the day. As a result we didn’t run into time and space conflicts, especially with the priming and organising people to come in and help. We had more people come in to help than was needed. Also same for organising the hall (and Jasper organised some really good servers.)
Saturday breakfast and lunch was extraordinary (on an astonishingly small budget.)
Extensive testing of dishes in advance meant that everything Micheál made had been cooked beforehand at least once, and in some cases four or five times. Made a huge difference. e.g. the time consuming process of tying up the rolls of lamb was well understood.
Traveller’s fare: Unegan did fantastic job in a very tight timeframe.
Registration: in the event itself and run up to it, the only person who noticed issues with registration was the reservation steward. It’s very important to have a res steward who has her shit together. Feelings of unfairness surprisingly low given how quickly it sold out.
Selective disclosure of registration info: people seemed to have the info they needed.
The “minions and henchpersons” group worked very well.
What could have worked better
There were a couple of errors with organising collections.
The format chosen for rapier fighting didn’t slot in very nicely with the time available (though it was a ridiculously high level field too so the bouts were long); it also started a bit late (but that happens.)
Timing problems occurred, but were not organisers’ responsibility - they sprang from decisions by their majesties (e.g. Court on Friday delayed by their Majesties to allow an important attendee to arrive for it)
Peerage meetings did run over a bit. This delayed (and shortened) the Rose meeting.
Food: apologies for not being there with all the materials needed for breakfast (and yet it still worked great.)
Selective disclosure of reg info: cancellations weren’t updated frequently so allergens list was probably longer than it needed to be. Cooks do need contact info for some people with allergies.
Registration: taken by surprise by our own success. Timezones: posted “tomorrow” after 23:00 Irish time, someone in a later timezone got caught out.
What would we do differently next time
Fencing: a simpler format with maybe a single bout instead of three would be a good plan with that list and tight time. (This is what the fighters did). Also have marshal in charge come up with fast, medium and slow option. Maybe start some tournaments on time even if people are late.
Raglan has a herald in a town crier role. We could have similar; this might help with fighter herding. Can be organised by herald in charge.
Peerage meetings in one room was done to save the King moving, but it helped a lot and we would probably do it in future.
Not trying to cram in classes helped with pace. Could be a downside for complete newcomers, but can consider that a new person care thing rather than a have-class thing.
Traveller’s fare: get food on site in ahead of time so a substitute person could step in if needed.
Don’t forget to offer to feed the venue staff. It’s a great way to build up goodwill.
Registration: a plan on how to communicate what’s available, when it’s closed, what’s still available. A couple of hours after reg opened, users saw a glut of messages in not the correct order. Try and stick to website updates linked from FB.
Prepare plans for seating changes in advance just in case the hall steward can’t make it: “when the room looks like this picture, stop.” For volunteers, build in redundancy as much as possible.
Have a dedicated travel coordinator, with who goes where sorted before the event.