A feast is an event where…you guessed it, we feast! We decorate a hall with banners and hangings, and eat enormous quantities of delicious medieval food by candlelight. Feasts are sometimes more casual, but they can be our most formal events, and they are often used as a stage for ceremony and pageantry.
What happens at a feast?
For the first half-hour to an hour after the official start time, people will be arriving, signing in at the front table (usually called the ‘Gate’), choosing a place to sit, and chatting. Often there will be bread, cheese, nuts, dried fruit, or other nibbles laid out for people to snack on until the main meal begins.
When the meal begins, servers will bring dishes of food to each table for people to share, or they may carry a single large dish around the hall. In some cases, the feast will be served buffet style, and diners will be told to line up at a serving table. Most feasts have more than one course (three is common), and each course will have multiple dishes, so we suggest you only take a small serve of each dish you decide to try. If you have questions about the food, the servers may be able to answer them, or they may have to check with the cooks. It’s feast etiquette, however, to avoid entering the kitchen unless you are working there, as the cooks are generally extremely busy by the time the diners arrive.
At some point during the event, there may be a break in the meal for other activities. These might included performances, dancing (which you are welcome to join in), or Court. This break is generally a good time to circulate and talk to people you aren’t sitting with. Eventually someone will make an announcement that the next course is going to be served, asking you to return to your seats.
At the end of the feast, a large basin of dish-washing water will be made available somewhere in the hall, and servers will circulate to collect any serving dishes left on the tables. Leftovers may be made available to take home. At some point, the electric lighting will be turned on (most of the event will be lit by real or fake candles), and people will begin to clean up and leave. It’s courteous to help tidy up if you stay until the end of the meal.
Where should I sit?
If people are already sitting at a table, feel free to ask whether there’s room for you to sit down. We’re a friendly bunch, so mostly we’ll say yes! If you’re not comfortable asking and you don’t know anyone to sit with, try talking to the event organiser, or the person running sign-ins at the front desk – they can probably introduce you to someone friendly.
There is one place you should not sit. If there is a table at one end of the hall, usually perpendicular to the other tables, which has particularly fancy chairs or decorations, that is probably the ‘high table’, where important guests such as the Baron and Baroness will be sitting. This is for VIPs only, so try asking somewhere else.
I have special dietary requirements. Will there be food for me?
If you give us enough warning, yes! Attendance at feasts is often booked in advance, and if you have special dietary requirements, that’s the time to let the organisers know. Our cooks will then do their very best to make sure there are options available so you can have as satisfying and delicious a feast as everyone else.
Can kids come?
Yes! Children are welcome, and except in rare cases, eat free! (We do require the $5 insurance fee to be paid for all non-members in attendance, including minors.) Many of our members with families bring their children along to feasts, although parents with younger children may prefer to leave early rather than have them stay up past bedtime.
What should I wear?
A feast is always a ‘garbed’ event, meaning that everyone will be in costume. While some people will be wearing very elaborate outfits, any attempt at pre-17th century clothing is acceptable. For more information, see our ‘What to Wear‘ page, or contact our equipment loans officer at firstname.lastname@example.org, who has clothing available for you to borrow.
What should I bring?
The most important thing to bring is dishes and cutlery, as they are not provided at SCA events. The food can almost always be eaten with your fingers or with a spoon, and you’ll see very few people with forks (as they weren’t used in medieval Europe), but if you’d prefer to use one, that’s fine too. You will need a bowl, as soups and stews are common, but a plate is optional. You should also bring a cup of some kind. We appreciate any attempt to have feast gear (as we call it) that looks medieval (e.g. wooden bowls, pewter tankards), but as long as it’s not brightly coloured plastic, no one will mind what you use. A plain canvas bag to carry your feast gear in, a plastic bag in case you decide to take them home to wash them, and a napkin to wipe your hands after eating are all useful things to have with you as well.
Will there be alcohol?
In general, alcohol is not served by the event organisers. However, if the site allows it, attendees are welcome to bring their own, and many do – even drinks they’ve brewed themselves! If you are offered some, you are welcome to accept or refuse, unless they didn’t realise you are under 18, in which case you must refuse in accordance with the law. We ask that, if you choose to drink at an SCA event, you do so in moderation, and act courteously to other people there.
Can I help out?
Yes! The SCA is run entirely by volunteer labour, and that means feasts too! If you arrive early, you can help set up and decorate the hall; if you stay to the end, you can help pack down and clean up. The kitchen always needs vegetable choppers and dishwashers, and during the feast, volunteer servers are needed to carry platters and pots of food from the kitchen to the tables. Volunteering is a great way to get involved, learn the ropes, and get to know other people in the group, so feel free to ask the event organisers what you can do to help.
When’s the next feast?
Keep an eye out for our Upcoming Events