A formal dinner setting done at many amtgard events. For feast, people often done their best Court Garb, and food is served. Some events charge extra for feast, some include it in the price. It is sometimes combined with court.
Some feasts have entertainment provided, others are Role-Playing settings in which people attempt to assassinate others without disrupting the feast (and keeping clear of the Royal Guardsmen who are tasked with keeping order. In other feasts people are asked to refrain so as to not disrupt the setting or the meal.
The first Amtgard Feast was held May 07 1983 at Thanos Darkside's home. It was a potluck dinner.
There are special Feast Rules that apply when combat is allowed at feast.
General Rules of Thumb
by Countess Gwynne of Tarnlea
Feasts, whether held in a hall or at an outdoor event, are difficult, nerve wracking, and an incredible amount of hard work. If well done however, they can provide the movers and doers with an incredible sense of accomplishment. What follows is not so much a set of iron clad rules but rather guidelines which can be adapted and adopted to the particular parameters of your feast.
FOR ANY FEAST
Customarily, the outgoing Crown is responsible for the feast- specifically the out-going Consort. It is the Consort’s duty, if not autocratting the feast personally, to pick (read: impress, as in chain gang) the feast autocrat and to work closely with him or her.
The feast autocrat should have, if not prior experience, a whole lot of enthusiasm and good sense as well as a strong support group. Don’t be shy in recruiting a crew to help with the feast. Choose dependable people and ask them (blackmailing, bludgeoning and brow beating are acceptable approaches as are cajoling, cunning and kidnapping)-volunteers are welcome but unfortunately seldom.
Other important considerations:
1.Advertise the feast both by distributing fliers and by word of mouth. All of the feast crew should be knowledgeable regarding the when, where, what time and etc. of the event. The autocrat should be sure his or her phone number is made known to both the hosting kingdom’s populace as well as to the monarchy and prime minister of other kingdoms*. Be sure and include exact date, times, location and any site restrictions (an example would be not being able to bring in alcoholic beverages).
- This is an appropriate job for the outgoing Consort and Monarch.
2. Collect as much ticket money in advance as possible. Starting a month prior to the feast is not too soon and two months is even better- this will also give you a pretty good idea of the probable attendance and some ‘seed money’. The kingdom’s prime minister is a good choice for this function as is a reliable member* of the autocrat’s crew. Always use a receipt book for those who pay ahead of time! But only have one receipt book- more than one will produce more confusion than anyone wants to deal with (an alphabetical list of those who have paid is also a handy thing to have at the door the night of the event). Advertise a reduced feast price for those who pay in advance, i.e.: if the advance price ticket is $5.00 then the price at the door should be $7.00.
- The word ‘reliable’ can be defined as someone who regularly attends Amtgard and who can be trusted to collect and safeguard the money and issue receipts.
3.Have two people designated to take ticket money at the door and provide them with the receipt book (and the alphabetical list mentioned above), just to keep everyone honorable, as well as a table and a couple of chairs. Be sure you have adequate funds on hand to make change for those who pay in cash. Do some research on how many people can be expected to attend and set a reasonable limit on the number of attendees. When the limit has been reached, close the door to the feast hall. It is unfair to those who pre-pay for you to not have enough food to go around. Tell people of any attendance limit well before of the feast- it will encourage people to pay in advance.
4.The autocrat can ask the monarch and the prime minister for advance money if necessary and then repay the treasury out of the feast proceeds. All receipts for feast expenditures must be kept and then submitted to the monarchy/prime minister after the feast regardless of receiving any advance money from the club’s treasury or not.
5.After you have determined your feast budget, get the most for your money when choosing the feast hall. Size of the hall, kitchen and seating facilities, the possibility of advance feast set-up times and post feast clean-up times, the possibility of a sound system, lighting, heating, can you hang banners and etc., hours of occupancy permitted, required security arrangements if any, if liquor can be brought to and consumed on the premises, and etc., etc. Balance what you are getting, and not getting, for your money. Insufficient or inadequate facilities can be compensated for in some degree if the price is right, i.e. not enough refrigerator space=bring some coolers. Possible sources of feast halls are fraternal and service organizations, commercial feast halls, churches, grange and union halls, schools, apartment complex party rooms or park shelters. Feasts have been successfully held in private homes and/or back yards but there is always the consideration of property damage for the host to consider.
First of all, get an estimate of the probable attendance. If an indoor feast, reserve a hall of adequate size well in advance of the event. Secondly, designate a experienced autocrat who can recruit a team of dependable people and assign to them their specific duties, i.e.: cooks, helpers, servers, and maitre de*. Thirdly, plan a menu that is tasty and, above all, easy to prepare and serve and that is well within your predetermined budget. If you are charging for the feast, remember that the feast tickets should at least reimburse the costs of the food and hiring the hall. If you’re really organized and shop wisely for both the hall and food, you’ll make a little over and be able to enrich your group’s bank account.The following is one example of successfully hosting a 50 person feast: Determine your menu and your per-serving cost in order to establish a budget. Purchase all foods as cheaply as possible. Recruit at least 1 cook and 1 helper for every 25 people. Have 1 server per table (if it’s a sit-down feast) and 1 maitre de to oversee the entire operation- the maitre de is in charge of the tactical part of the feast just as the cook(s) is in charge of the kitchen. The autocrat is the strategist and should also utilize him/herself as a ‘floater’ ready to solve problems and/or fill in as necessary. Servers should devote their attention solely to ‘their’ table. They need to get the food to the table quickly, replace empty serving dishes with full as required, ensure that fresh breads, fruits and etc. are replenished, and remove any disposable detritus both as it appears and after the feast is completed.
Cooks and their helpers need to coordinate the heating/cooking of dishes, get the hot foods to the servers immediately, clean up continuously as they go and not hesitate to yell for help to the autocrat if required.(Trust me, help is inevitably needed, i.e.: the oven doesn’t work, the main dish isn’t here, we don’t have any serving spoons/dishes, killer goats have eaten all the salad, the cook is having labor pains and etc.)
- The maitre de coordinates the servers, spots and solves problems before they reach the criticalstage, (we need more bread and butter at that table, the monarch’s table doesn’t have enough of the main dish-kindly get another platter from the cook, the rowdies at the middle table are finished eating already and getting restless- shove some dessert in front of them, court will be starting in 30 minutes; let’s get the tables cleaned and etc.) and coordinates between the cook(s) and the servers and well as helping out if she/he can without taking attention from the main job which is feast hall coordination. The autocrat is responsible for the entire feast and all feast procedure! All problems before, during and at the feast should be solved by autocrat if the loyal staff can’t solve them on their own (an excellent reason for recruiting talented people, incidently). The autocrat’s motto is be prepared for almost anything and you won’t be disappointed.
HELPFUL HINTS: Put 2 platters/bowls on each table of the main dish and 3 to four containers of the side dishes. Be sure to provide adequate serving utensils. Serving dishes, cookware, platters and utensils can be borrowed if they are marked with the owner’s name.
NOTE: You can improvise somewhat for serving dishes and platters. Those medium to large styrofoam trays from the meat department of your local grocery store, if washed and covered with foil, make decent and disposable platters- ask people ahead of time to save them for you. You may have to nest two or more for serving heavy meat dishes. Large, recycled butter tubs can also be covered with foil or, better yet, concealed in a basket of appropriate size and used to serve side dishes of vegetables, etc. Serve breads and cheeses uncut and provide a knife so people can serve themselves. There is nothing more disgusting or unappetizing than dry bread or stale and/or slimy cheese. Uncut, these foods will tend to keep their freshness and appeal. Besides big rounds of cheese and hot loaves of bread or rolls (served clothcovered and in a basket by the way) look very ‘period’ and add to the over all ambiance of the feast. Breads can be served in baskets and cheese and bread can be served on cutting boards. If the main dish is a protein, and it probably will be, figure about 1/2 pound of light meats such as turkey, seafood, fish, pork or chicken per serving- a little less than that for red meats. Have many small bowls/plates of appetizers, butters, jams, jellies, accent dishes, etc. on the tables to go along with the breads and cheeses and later with the main dish (keeps the ‘rabble’ busy while you’re busting your butt to get the major stuff cooked and served). Plan the menu to take advantage of dishes that can be precooked then warmed up at the feast and/or pre-assembled meals that merely need to be uncovered and served. Servers, in addition to serving, should alternate serving functions with detritus removal patrols of each table. The motto for both cooks, helpers and servers should be “clean up as you go”- don’t save it all for one exhausting (and very inefficient) procedure at the end of the feast. NOTE: With the possible exception of a buffet-type feast, do not allow the feast crowd to dispose of their own paper plates and etc. All this does is create a lot of traffic jams around the tables which interferes with the servers. Do have discreetly placed but readily available garbage containers. Decorate the hall- get some ambiance working for the feast. Be careful on the use of open flames. Encourage individuals, companies and households to bring banners for the walls and to ‘dress’ their tables. Appropriate mood music is also a good idea. Live entertainment is excellent if it’s excellent. Remember the whole idea of a feast is to celebrate and enjoy, not to have one’s ears and/or vision assaulted and offended. All feast personnel, including the autocrat and the maitre de, should pitch in and make sure the feast hall is pretty well cleaned up within 30 minutes or less from when the monarch’s table is finished with the last course- the kitchen clean up can wait a bit. The obvious reasons for this are, to wit: You don’t want to be wiping off tables or removing used food while court is going on and the feast personnel will need a couple of minutes to spruce up a bit, slip into a clean tabard, etc. because the outgoing court’s first item of business should be to call everyone who has worked on the feast forward for recognition and sincere thanks for the excellent meal and service. If the monarch and consort do not do this, vote the insensitive, unappreciative, ill-bred, ignorant slobs out of office (if you haven’t done so already)!
THINGS YOU DO AND DON’T DO AT A FEAST
1.Do give out awards by the outgoing monarchy. Don’t allow visiting monarchs to give out awards to peoples in their kingdoms. Hey, this is your kingdom’s court- if the visitors want to present awards let them do it at their own courts. The only possible exception I can think of is when a visiting monarch wants to make a very short comment on an exceptional achievement by someone. A good example of this is when His Majesty Wolfram Bloodletter gave a brief announcement at the Clan 14 court of Sir Kane’s contributions and victory at the Interkingdom Olympiad.
2.Do introduce all visiting dignitaries. Don’t personally introduce every single out-kingdom visitor- a general introduction is fine, i.e., “and we welcome the visitors from pick-a-kingdom, barony, etc.” (Herald, it is part of your duties to ferret out this information and provide it to your monarch prior to court.)
3.Do have a competent herald to assist with scheduling the court. The herald should interview all dignitaries and write down and announce the particular ‘business before the court’ at the appropriate time. Don’t permit every person who wants to thank their pet dog for whatever to take up the court’s time and bore the populace to death. You wouldn’t believe some of the things people want to drone on and on about in front of a captive audience- or maybe you would. The herald must be prepared to be an absolute, gold plated, revolving s.o.b. on this subject. Get specifics, set time limits, enforce time limits, O’ herald. Find out exactly what the ‘business’ is and if it’s inappropriate disallow it - nicely if at all possible. I recently heard of an Althing held at a crown feast- honest! I still have trouble believing that one. When in doubt, consult with the monarchy.
4.Related to item 3 above: Don’t allow public protests, bitch sessions, impassioned pleas for truth, justice and the Amtgardian way to be presented at court- not only inappropriate but borrrring! Refer these people to the proper venue for their grievance.
5.Don’t, when presenting awards, end up calling one person up 15 times for 15 awards. Do group the awards per person.
6.Do make sure to poll club officers, guild masters and reeves prior to the event for suggestions as to who has achieved award potential. Don’t give out awards wholesale for minor or insignificant achievement-you cheapen not only the award but, more importantly, anyone who has ever received the award in the past. Awards are for exemplary service. (I’m sorry, folks, being in charge of carrot chopping at a feast just does not rate a rose.) And for the god’s sake, except for deliberate humor, don’t create mini-awards- the so-called ‘petal’ is laughable. This route leads to all sorts of silly things, i.e., how about a ‘scale’ so you can work your way up to a real dragon? I can’t imagine how many ‘petals’ to a rose, much less the number of ‘scales’ in a dragon! Do keep both outgoing and incoming courts as short as possible. Considering the awards-given situation for the outgoing people, that portion of the court is always going to be longer than the incoming court.A reasonable time limit would be 1 hour for the outgoing and 1/2 hour for the incoming. Don’t allow more than 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours for the entire court procedure. (I have recently attended some 3 and 4 hour courts. I’d rather party and, except for the bombastic few who love to listen to the sound of their own voices, so would everyone else!) It is the outgoing Monarch’s job to control time limits.
OUTDOOR FEASTS AND BUFFET-STYLE FEASTS
Buffet feasts are handled much the same as the sit-down variety except the servers get to either stand behind a table and serve or simply keep an eye on the food and replenish from the kitchen as necessary. Servers will still be required to do ‘garbage patrol’ periodically at the tables but large garbage containers should be provided so that most of the detritus will be disposed of by the feasters themselves.
Outdoor feasts are usually buffet style and handled much the same as the indoor version but beware, the exigencies of outdoor cooking are added to the already heavy responsibilities of the cooks- make sure you have adequate facilities for the cooks, i.e.: stoves and fuel therefore, tables on which to prepare the food, utensils, adequate cooler space, plenty of water, dish washing facilities, provisions for the disposal of garbage and etc., etc., etc. In other words everything you would take for granted in a ‘civilized’ indoor setting will need to be provided. It is also strongly suggested that the nearest source of civilized amenities, i.e., the closest grocery or convenience store, be identified as to location and hours of operation. One trusty soul should be designated to buy and fetch if needed. The food logistics alone of an outdoor or event feast can be formidable. One-dish recipes are to be strongly recommended, especially those that can be prepared from dried ingredients or can be made up ahead of time, frozen and transported to the feast site to be reheated. And if the one-dish approach strikes you as somewhat less than elegant, be advised that even the most simple of foods, if well cooked and served hot, taste like food for the gods in an outdoor setting. NOTE: Hosting the outdoor feast always requires more personnel so plan accordingly.
POT LUCK FEAST - THE EASIEST FEAST OF ALL: For this type of feast the outgoing court usually provides the main meat dish. All side dishes, desserts are as a pot luck. This feast is best served as a buffet. It is essential that the autocrat control the types of side dishes by signing up people, or companies, or households for a specific dish otherwise you can, and probably will, end up with 15 desserts, 3 identical salads and no hot dishes at all. The sign up sheet for a 50 person feast should be something like the following: Mid-Reign at the VFW hall, 142 W. Elm - Nov. 19th at 8:00 p.m. The Crown is providing two 25 pound baked hams for the main course. The following dishes are needed:
HOT SIDE DISHES TO SERVE 10 TO 20 PEOPLE:
- Green beans.
- A potato dish.
- A pasta or rice dish.
- Green peas.
Do the same for
- Cold side dishes
- Breads, rolls, butter,
...making sure that all the foods on the list go pretty well with baked ham. Now obviously, you can substitute and adjust to a great degree. If Lady Bunweed wants to bring a 50-person serving of her delicious Cherries Flambe by all means let her do so. But if, after graciously accepting Lady Bunweed’s generous offer, you let another volunteer bring 500 chocolate brownies, your feast is going tobe seriously overstocked with desserts. The autocrat must maintain the balance of the menu. If you find youare running short on hot side dishes, drop your pride and ask someone to bring a hot side dish. If nothing else ask people to bring canned or frozen foods that the cook can heat up, spice up and ‘pretty up’ at the feast.(And, yes, you do need at least one head cook at a buffet.) As an incentive for people to bring dishes to a pot luck feast, you might try running a contest for best hot dish, best dessert and etc. It’s easiest if you let the Crown table judge this rather than a total vote of all feasters. Prizes are up to the Crown but could be good bottles of wine or some nice feast gear. THE BANE OF ALL FEASTS- THE RICE AND THE VEGETABLES How many feasts have you been to where the rice was inedible and the veggies disgusting? I’m not sure there is a cure for the ‘rotten rice’ syndrome, with the exception of a rice dressing, but even canned vegetables can be transformed into something other than ‘eat them; they’re good for you.’ You are, after all, not at the blasted feast to eat something that is ‘good for you’, you’re there to pig out! Try some of the following suggestions: Sauce for green beans: While the beans are cooking or warming up, fry up some bacon pieces(about 6 to 8 slices per can or package of green beans) with about 1 tblsp. of grated onion. You may want to start cooking the bacon first. Pour off all the fat except for about 3 tblsp. Add to the pan 3/4 cup of either the green bean liquid or some chicken aspic (bouillon + water can be used in a pinch), 2 tblsp. vinegar and 1 tblsp. sugar. Bring to just a boil then remove from heat and pour over the cooked, drained green beans. NOTE:This sauce can be made ahead of time to save you some hysteria during the feast. Generic vegie sauce: For every 3 or so cups of cooked veggies, heat on low 1 can of cream of celery, cream of asparagus or cream of mushroom soup. Add 3 tblsp. of real butter, 3 tblsp. of chicken aspicor bouillon and some chopped up chives or parsley (fresh is preferred but dried can be used). Pour over hot vegetables and serve immediately. Quick ‘n Dirty: Pour some hot, melted butter or margarine over the hot vegies, toss lightly and sprinkle with seasoned salt. Serve immediately.
THE LARGE, COMPLETELY INTIMIDATING FEAST Provisions for large feasts can be figured by simple addition of the parameters already given for the 50-person feast. However I strongly recommend prior feast experience before taking on 100 (plus) people meal. For that matter hosting dinners at your home for 10, 15 then 20 (plus) people is invaluable experience before handling even a 50 person feast. Start out with a hot dog party after Amtgard (or even at Amtgard- hot dogsat the park around noon could be a lot of fun). Follow up a couple of months later with a combined birthday party, a gaming party, an open house if you’ve just moved. Open yard parties, open garage parties and open refrigerator parties are not unheard of. Any excuse will do to get people together for some fun and will enlarge your hosting, cooking and serving talents.