That said, I'm really happy with how this event turned out. 2016 marks the 25th year of our Barony's existence, and we celebrated in style! The drama and stress that I went through leading up to the day was certainly drowned out by the nice time we all had.
The site opened at noon (one of the best parts of an evening event), and we had fun setting up with pretty white and blue decorations, including totally non-period Christmas lights. In the afternoon the populace enjoyed dance practice, and I even got enough of a break to do a dance or two in between handling various issues.
In the afternoon the King and Queen hosted a meeting to discuss the calendar plans for the kingdom. This has been an ongoing wrestling match for quite a while now, and I didn't really have any feedback to give, but it was interesting to listen to the discussion. I think the issues we face are those every kingdom deals with. We want events to be evenly spaced throughout the year. We want to make sure kingdom events don't conflict with baronial events. We want to make sure that, as much as possible, our events won't conflict with events in An Tir, which has events that are within an easy day's drive for many of us. We want to make sure that events don't conflict with religious observances and other holidays (as much as possible). We want to make sure that we are not trying to plan events at the times when the weather is most unpleasant.
Anyway, after the business was done, my husband hosted a mask-making workshop, since this is, after all, a masked ball. After a dinner break, the evening's festivities began (albeit an hour late) with a march of precedence, including all present members of our barony. Considering that my husband is our baronial herald, I had a front seat view of what a complete pain in the ass this process is. I'm sure in years past, when this was a traditional part of the festivities, it was much easier with a smaller group. In any case, as fancy and historical as marches of precedence might be, my advice is to NEVER EVER HAVE A MARCH OF PRECEDENCE AT AN EVENT, EVER.
My reason for saying this is that 1) it makes those of us who are low on the totem pole feel kind of crappy, because 2) It makes some of those who are high on the totem pole get very puffed up and proud. I realize that status is a part of the medieval period, and a part of the SCA, but this blurs the line between "status of titles achieved" and "these people are better than me." Unfortunately, sometimes those who have achieved great ranks still act like petty humans and forget that they are peers and examples, and there was some bad blood as we prepared for the march. These are parts of the SCA we generally avoid, ignore, or simply walk away from. I try very hard to just maintain the dream, but it's hard when you're the little guy and you feel wronged by those who should behave better. It feels even worse when it feels like because of your low status, you don't really have the power to change/fix/dispute the bad behavior. I defaulted to my usual "just don't care that much" attitude, and we got through it, but it was a huge time suck and not worth the stress.
Luckily, the rest of the evening was gorgeous, despite the delays in the schedule. We had a wonderful catered buffet by a friend of ours, Cynthia, who is new to the SCA but not new to catering at all. Wow. This was an exciting event for our household because two of our members received awards of arms. Congratulations to Lady Thora and Lady Simona. We chipped in to make sure there were belts and knives for both of them. The event also had a dessert competition, a Lord and Lady of color competition (vote for your favorite garb in each of the hearaldic colors), our annual bardic championship (won by my awesome husband, who got the whole crowd singing a totally non-period rendition of Corb Lund's "I Wanna be in the Cavalry"), lots of dancing with live music by our musicians' guild.
In true crazy Ursula fashion, I decided a week before the event that I wanted to get on the bandwagon and make some garb, since I was the one who picked the Russian theme (nothing says winter like Russia). I went with an early-period Slavic theme. My under-dress is a white linen t-tunic, and my dress is a brown linen t-tunic with relatively fitted sleeves. The trim is some red and gold silk brocade I was given at Raptor War by Baroness Syeira, about two yards and about 30 inches wide. After the neck facing and wrist cuffs, I had enough to make a filet (lined with red linen) for temple rings (findings from a bead shop) and pearls, and an 8 inch guard at the bottom of the dress. Since I was limited on yardage, I couldn't make the guard curved, so I just gently pleated it every six inches or so to make it fit the curve of the skirt. the bonus is that if I ever decide to remake/retire this dress, the silk should be pretty reusable. I have a little left over that I plan to make a pouch/pocket out of at some point. I finished the outfit with a leather belt, since I just couldn't bear to wear a dress with no waist shaping. With my ample frame it just makes me look fatter (will be working on that for 2016). For most of the evening I wore my hair wrapped in my silk veil with the filet over the top, but eventually when wearing the headset mic to teach some dancing I knocked the whole assembly off, so I just went with the filet and no veil for the sake of my sanity. Since the site tokens for the event were temple rings made by Baroness Giliana, I'll be remaking my filet with those attached.
Pics below. Our fundraiser for the event was a photo booth, so there are some great shots of many of us.