Mission

What are the elements of a good event for you?

49 posts in this topic

An event organizer was recently asking questions on Facebook related to what was needed to encourage reenactors to come to an event. This got me to thinking about the question I posted in the topic: What are the elements of a good event for you?

I am thinking of three or four things that make YOU want to return to a pirate reenactment. I have some ideas, but I don't want to start this conversation off by guiding it in a particular direction, so the floor is open. (I am not looking for a laundry list here, just a couple of things that stand out in your mind that cause you to return to particular events year after year.)

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First - Company is the first big draw. If I know people that are going to be there, I am motivated to consider it.

Second - Presentation, be it historical or not, but even this can vary. For example, I prefer to go to historic oriented events, but the only local event is a pirate themed pirate festival, so I do attend that, as it's right in my back yard. Still, I'll fly across the country for a good period oriented event and location.

Third - Battles and boats. If an event has both of these, that's a huge draw.

These are all starters for me. I generally hear from like minded people about events that I should attend. People who think like me are always says 'You would love this event!' and so my list grows and grows.

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First - Aye, the company I know is a big draw and one way, possibly the best way, to move from one event to another; Make a connection here, go to their event there.

Second - Period presentations and camping. As I progress I am adding more skills that I can display/practice in a reasonable facsimile of a careening camp. Also the ability to sell some pyraty/shippy bits to the public and other reenactors defrays my costs and keeps the wife happy.

Third - Camping on site is both enjoyable and cost effective. Hotel expenses are an absolute non-starter.

Fourth - Black powder battles, just 'cause I like to make big sounds. Steel battle as well. Sailing ships a definite plus. Near period ships (alas, of which the Bounty was one) would make the event an absolute must-do.

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OK, I am going to jump in because I see a lot of elements in there that agree with my initial ideas

First, absolutely it's the people who are there. Most pirate folks are wonderful to play/work with and they're the reason I return again and again to certain events. While (like anyone) I like to see certain people who share my sensibilities and sense of humor, even that isn't necessary if it's the right general crowd. In fact, in the broader sense, I prefer an eclectic mix. Not all PC, not all fantasy but a bit of both and tolerance by the event for the same.

Second, open water and boats. They don't even have to be big boats. A lot folks have little boats to bring to events and I have just as much fun in them as I do with two masted sloops.

Third, a place for after hours carousing. Yeah, we're there for the public and so on and so forth, but I'm also on vacation and I'm there to have fun and enjoy the company when the shop is closed. Campsite-based activities can also be fun, but I like the opportunity to explore both camp and local street fare.

Fourth (and this may just be me), decent hotels that are not too far away.

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I'm funny on this.... On the whole, the people going, the context of the event (historical, blended, or pop culture inspired), accommodations (camping arrangements are usually what I want), water/boats, and after hours carousing are my mainstays draws (like those who posted above)....

But the way the information about the event is conveyed is a big factor for me.... If I can not ascertain, the date of the event, the location (INCLUDING state, city/town/park, ect.), within the first few sentences in a web site/missive/post/advert about the event, I seriously become disenfranchised enough about said hypothetical event for it to weigh against the above positive features. Frequency of missives regarding the event can also play a mitigating factor... too much, and it becomes a "spam" event that will make me want to shy away, too little communication, and I wonder and start to have doubts about how well it is organized (not that I particularly like OCD organized events, some balance of order and chaos is a must :lol: ).

So I guess the style of communication about the event can be a big factor for me.

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I'm mostly in agreement with the above posts. But some additions for me:

I normally camp and nice green grass sure beats dusty hardpack. (beaches and trees are even better)

Ability to have a campfire - some of my best times/friends ever have been around a campfire.

The company is very important, a live and let live attitude is a must whether known friends or new acquaintances

(The general attitudes I sensed on this forum brought me to FTPI the first time)

mP

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Event organizers that treat reenactors as lower class participants is a turn off... "thanks for coming but you can park two blocks away.... These lots are for the paying public."

Event organizers who frown on weapons or blackpowder use by the reenactors. Let's sterilize the event... get a rasberry!

Water, boats and open space is a plus.

Hotel/motel deals are a plus... the other half isn't into camping.

A 'stand-offishness' by some crews/camps create an air of elitism that I can do without.

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Live, spontaneous music is also a plus, so a talented vocalist or a good fiddler is a great addition.

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1) Inclusion and involvement for the new comer's and old comer's alike........offering to let them get involved.

2) Rhum.

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OK the start of this thread is An event organizer was recently asking questions on Facebook related to what was needed to encourage reenactors to come to an event.

This assumes they need you as part of the draw for there event.

I would say there a hybrid crews out there. What I mean by that is they are a cross between professionals and armatures. They do get paid or some sort of bounty for their participation at events yea it is not there full time profession and they do it because they love it and are not making money but need to offset their time off from the jobs and cost to travel and make camp anything that can make it a break even rather than a expenditure will bring good crews in from all over.

With that in mind as has already been stated Jas.Hook they need to appreciate that work that goes into put a proper kit and camp together. Most events that out crew attends they allow us put out trade blankets and sell item to help off set our cost.They will provide porta Johns and or access to rest rooms and shower facility's and camping at no cost to crews.Those who wish to see black-powder artillery and or demonstrations provide a powder bounty.

Better events will provide Ice and water at no cost and tall ships festivals free access to the ship for those that are part of the encampment. Museums usually provide passes for participants come back and enjoy the museum at a later date.

As most living history groups or reenators are pretty self sufficient, water.food,ice and access to RR facility's and having camp fires go a long way.

As Michael Bagley stated there communications on the event dates and location can make or break an event a groups willingness to be part of or the public to attend.

And our pet peeve would be they insure in ground sprinkler systems are turned off in encampment ground areas prior to tent placements, as sprinklers going off in your tent on the middle of the night doesn't count shower access ;-}

Edited by Bright

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Travelling to an event can go one of two ways, either as a participant or as a visitor. As a participant I believe in "free piracy" not getting paid but given the opportunity to come out of an event without losing money. This can be done many ways, accommodations can be provided or space to camp. Meals can be shared and having some things for sale or doing something where you can make tips to cover your fuel costs. I just can't afford to take time off work and spend money travelling to an event. This is the number one draw for being able to travel to an event. As far as going as a visitor, the better an event the more I want to go. Of course then the costs of going to an event are much more considerable. An evolving example would be Key West. In 2007 I went for the first time as a visitor (sailed down with a friend) and had a great time, knowing people I was able to fire the cannons and my own pistol. I had some basic clothes and wound up spending the night sacked out on the fort wall. In 2008 I was out of the country but in 2009 I put my best effort forward sewing my own clothes and even making a tent. 3 of us carpooled down and had a good time. In 2010 four of us got together and rented a room this was comfortable but also expensive. By 2011 We were doing the math and determined it was about the same cost to rent a room as it was to buy a tent and since we were travelling to other festivals a tent was useable at those as well. Having the tent helped to save the money on the room however the weekend still cost us a fair chunk of change we were unable to recuperate in addition to lost work. Last year we had decided we would just go for a day or two as visitors and stay at a friends house to limit the time taken off work and cost.

I feel the I agree with Bright, and in my opinion money is the number one factor. If money wasn't the number one factor we would all be travelling all over the US to as many events as we could.

Friends and family would be the second factor

Vendors would be another factor, period is better but the vendors bring the public and without the public its just a private party.

Food need to be available either for purchase or for meals.

Weaponry, this may sound funny but just having it there is a draw. There doesn't have to be a battle or shooting but it needs to be present.

Having gone thru this list there are several events that I travel to through FL and I would rank them as follows.

Key West, number 1 for family and friends

Port Salerno Seafood fest (while not a pirate fest there is a growing number of pirates and encampment as part as the show), number 1 for public as there were around 40,000 that passed thru on just the one day this year

Cocoa Beach Pirate fest/pirate con number 1 for vendors, everything from treasure to polyester

Overall most recent best and room to grow would be the Treasure Coast Pirate Fest and here's why:

A fair number of vendors (roughly 120), on the water plenty of grass (no sprinklers), decent encampment (first year and maybe 15 tents so far), plenty of food options for purchase and cooked in the encampment, music and a stage far enough away that it doesn't detract from the encampment, the best acoustic location for black powder I have found (there is a bridge and you get almost a dozen echoes off every shot), and room to grow into a bigger festival.

Personally an "ultimate" festival would include the rooms we have available at fisherman's village (literally above most vendors) for showers etc., the family gathering of Key West, the vendors of pirate con, the freedom seen at John Levique for shooting, an encampment in a large shaded spot, the crowds of the seafood fest (spaced out over the entire festival not in one day), and lasting 2 weekends setup on a Thursday and break down on Monday.

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1) Inclusion and involvement for the new comer's and old comer's alike........offering to let them get involved.

2) Rhum.

Let me second the idea of keeping the event "open" to new people and at least attempting to get them involved. Nothing can be more disheartening than traveling to an event, spending money, extending a friendly hand and not being accepted by the old guard. Now I'm not talking about handing over a black powder weapon to someone you and letting them fire it. You certainly need to act with caution. But what about including new people in some of the after hour events or inviting them to join you for a meal? It that seems to "private" at least pointing them here to the Pub so they can meet a few members??? Most people who come to a new event the first time don't know the details and might want to get more involved but won't unless invited. They consider it private and much like High School a clique.

What's the harm it walking up to the guy in the plastic bucket book covers and leather Jack Sparrow hat and saying, "Hey shipmate you look new around this port... ever seen the 'walk the plank' challenge? It's over at pier one at 4:30! Oh, you see that fine looking tall ship? That be the "Black Angel" and she gives rides to anyone who can shell out 40 dollars. Hey you on the mailing list? Do you like rum? We do a tasting down a Dirty Jim's Grill and Pub tonight after 10."

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Jib!

Couldn't agree more on reaching out to folks. I've had great experiences with folks inviting me and my family to get involved in things - we are very fortunate to have established groups in our area that are very welcoming. It makes all the difference for most everyone, and of those that are going through the effort to participate in whatever fashion they might be, I've learned most of them want to be more period, more authentic, etc., and just haven't had the information or sources some of us have learned about over time and through others. There are those of course that just want to dress up and drink, and that's fine too, but a lot of folks do want to get more into the historical aspect of things, and a little encouragement and engagement is all that's needed.

Aye,

John

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Hmmm , much of this has been said before, but when dealing with event organisers, I don't think it can be said too often.

1) People. Yes, there are certain crews that, if I hear are going to be there, it bumps the event up my list. Our crew is living history based, so being the only crew of that type at an event can be a real downer. Especially, if the rest of the event is fantasy based, or aimed at the average 7 year old, we get bored real quick. So there definitely needs to be a mix that includes some of the hard core folks.

2)The Camp. Grass to pitch tents on, enough space to run our lines, fire pits permitted (all our cooking is done on the fire, so no fire pit means cold food for the weekend), flushies or sufficient porta-loos that are maintained, firewood (especially with all the restrictions about transporting firewood across state lines), and a clean water supply.

3)Battle. A major part of our crew activities are centered around the cannon and musket firing, and sword to sword combat. A no drawn weapons or no blackpowder policy and we are not going.

4)Private hours. We are a privateer crew. While we may be historically correct during the day, we do tone it down somewhat to make it at least PG-13. After hours, around the fire, all bets are off. We don't want to be dealing with the public during our time to be ourselves and cut loose.

What I DON'T base participation on.

1) Stipends. Yes, they are nice and we get some during the year which pay for our insurance. Beyond that, we are not in this game to make money.

2)Meals. We cook our own and eat in our tavern, The Greyhound. Having a meal provided, which is most often not a period meal, is a distraction, not an asset.

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I can certainly see how money might be important to some, but I'm with Hawkyns on that one. I not only don't care about being paid, I would actually prefer not to be paid. If someone gives me cash, I feel I am beholden to them. While I don't slack on my presentations - I like to put on a effective presentation for reasons of personal integrity - I still prefer to be able to dance to my own tune. (Sometimes I like to skip meetings, mornings and even battles. If I were being paid, I would feel I was short changing my employer.) Freedom is more important to me than cash, but that's just my thing.

In a way, I feel the same way about meals. Being a vegetarian makes me something of a pain-in-the-neck for people trying to prepare meals. I do appreciate when someone does so, but I'm just as happy to make my own way if that's possible. I'd almost always rather dine at a restaurant in the evening. (Which is not at all period, but there you are.) This is one of the reasons I prefer events close to areas with a nightlife.

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But Mission, meals taken in Taverns are period. At least until you get to the door, anyway. Just be all 17th Century on your way there and back.

Edited by Captain Jim

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Ha ha ha.

What about meals taken at Cafe Sole and Blue Heaven?

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Oh, I think the presence of chickens makes it PC.

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"What is needed to encourage reenactors to come to an event"

1) Supply a fun and safe environment to interact with the public. Safety First !

2) Providing activities that directly involve my participation in entertaining the public

3) A safe place for black powder demonstrations/ mock battles

4) being ''Gated" as part of compensation of my personal cost.

Reasons Eye come to an event :

1) I come to hang with me friends first.

2) the draw is to be a part of the event as a participant and not a visitor..

- though being a visitor has its perks like freedom to roam and not have to be at a place a certain time.(What Mission Said)

3)Tall ships to Jolly Boats ..Eye want to be on a ship/boat shooting black powder be it cannon of gun.

4) A chance to be in garb to be my alter ego.

Edited by oderlesseye

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Having done this stuff for a good number of years, (since 1998), I tend to think of the practical aspects of attending. I am primarily a "street character / entertainer". I agree with most of these postings to a great degree. I love doing it, and interacting with the customers mostly. When the public leaves for the day, I want to go back to an airconditioned room and get a good nights sleep to prepare for the following day. I really have little interest in the "18th century experience" after hours.

We need to consider that the event is making money off of our participation, and we have a lot of money tied up in our garb and equipment, plus the expense of getting there. We should be compensated for our participation. Without us, they cannot have an event !! I always consider myself an "employee" of the event, and conduct myself accordingly. It is part of my job to make the event successful, so as to get invited back the next time. I do not look at events as an opportunity to "party" with my friends, even though I very much enjoy being with other participants. I say all that to say that as much as I enjoy participation, I refuse to go "in the hole" financially for any event. I don't mind paying for my meals, and I don't need to actually make much money, but I want to at least break even. I feel that folks that do this for free are very much getting taken advantage of !!

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Cascabel- I've been reenacting since the early 80's- 15th, 16th, 17th C, WWII, pyrate, ACW, ECW, F&I, RevWar. I can count the number of times I've been paid on two hands and have fingers left over. I've paid fees to attend a great many events, even those that charged the public to enter. I've never yet felt that they took advantage of me, for two reasons. Most of those evetns that I've paid to attend were at historic sites. The whole idea of the event was to raise money for the site for preservation or maintainance. For them to provide wood, water, and portaloos out of the gate money would be a counterproductive to the whole idea of the event. I've also attended many private events where there was no public, and we had to pay for the services that the camp needed.

Second big reason is that I do this primarily for myself. I don't need the public to have a good event. I'm there to live the life, of whatever period I'm reenacting. I want the immersion experience. Not everyone does, and I'm not criticizing you for having a different mindset. But do be careful and don't think that I'm being taken advantage of, because I'm not. I'm paying for my time machine.

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This thread shows, that like so many things in life, we all get involved in one interest or another for either very similar reasons or very different reasons. The good news is, many of the events we're attending provide for all. Some events will pay specific pirate for their entertainment and talents, specific to their needs, while still providing an open, friendly environment and many free services to other pirates in mass. No two events are ever quite the same in this regard, so I appreciate fellow pirates who try so many of them and bring back their observations to share with the rest of us.

Fresh water, ice and gratitude go a long way with me. Paid or not, cold, clean water and a 'Thank You'.

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Indeed, Hawkins...

There are many differences between a festival / entertainer mindset, as opposed to a historic site / reenactor mindset, and our priorities are quite different.

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As Hawkyns says many events are run for maintenance of the facility year round. One that I attend is a maritime museum of which I'm an annual member. Although entitled to two event freebees a year I still pay at the gate as this money is used to keep the museum profitable and open to the general public. I go in kit to add to the pirate feel of the event and because it's a overall fun weekend.

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i'm with william on his last post... a nice place to set up tents, water, bathrooms, firewood a bonus, involve us in some kind of activity ( we are there for entertaining, teaching, etc., to show off our love of the hobby - essentially ) , a thank you at the end of the event, some kind of recognition that i just spent a day or two of my own money and time getting there, hauling out a bunch o'crap, talking to the public, putting on some kind of demo, etc., etc.

downers ---- no weapons at all, no water, bathrooms, campfires, having to be quiet after a certain hour ( yes, i take into consideration that people do need to sleep... i'm not talking about staying up till dawn partying like an animal )

we are all adults and mostly conduct ourselves in that manner, so unwanton behaviour is usually not an issue with reenactors, so don't jump the gun and assume that we need to be watched with gaurded minds....

we always invite others to join in the after hour festivities which usually involve sitting around the campfire telling tall tales and lies, sharing our latest projects, bringing out the snacks, beverages, catching up with friends, music and anyone that can sing better than i are always very welcome....

make it convenient and worth while for us to travel and set up, let us do our "show" ,and after hours, let us have fun....

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