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Running a Kick-Ass Event
[07/01/2013] [Okami Cio Cio]

I want to run a big kick-ass event, but I'm afraid! It seems so overwhelming.

Here, it's okay, breathe. You're so smart, and besides, to run an event you really only need:

  • Activities
  • Location
  • Participants
That's not so scary, really. Before the event is even scheduled you can have a good deal of the preparation underway.


While you're still in the planning phase, let your imagination run wild. List out all of what you'd like to do and offer. Make a preliminary schedule. Once you've gotten that out of your system, start evaluating. What do I need to trim? How long will this tourney really take? Who will help me run this many activities at one time? Trim the fat, and focus on the activities that you think will be the most popular.

This is a good time to get input from friends and potential assistants. If you have people who will commit to being your war-o-crat or feast-o-crat or underwear-o-crat, then all the better. A staff will help you - but remember a staff needs management. If someone other than you is going to be responsible for specific things, you need to make sure they're being done, and being done correctly.

Now that you know what you want to do, you can determine what kind of site you will need. A picnic in the park? You need a park. A feast for 150? You need a hall where they all can sit, and preferably a kitchen to cook said meal. A giant castle battle? You need a castle and a place to put it. Evaluate what you have access to, and if it will serve your needs.

Make a new schedule, and on this one, note who will be needed for each activity, (reeve, judge, monster, etc.) and what items or tools will be needed. I can't stress enough the value of a clearly communicated schedule. Plan on closing tourney brackets at noon? Making that abundantly clear will help cut down on angry people who are used to things starting at "Amtgard time."

I would also add, to make a day of fighting end up a little more pleasant and round out the activities, consider a feast. There are indeed costs, however most people are not going to be able to get McDonald's for the price of a feast. A good rule of thumb is to plan at least $3.50 a person. With inexpensive hall rental you can cost your event at as little as a $5.00 site fee.


Where you hold your event can play a huge part in it's success. People will not be as eager to travel to a crappy facility - or no facility. It can seem scary to rent out a hall. Hall owners want money, and often a lot of it! Your treasury may not be able to handle the costs - a genuine event killer.

I have found that in a town like Omaha, halls are hard to find, but they can be found. Sometimes it takes a little effort and digging. Don't be afraid to start calling churches, who often have halls and sometimes even gymnasiums that they will rent for a lot cheaper than a city park facility or a private hall. The worst they can say is no. (Tip for dealing with churches: Stress that it is a family organization with educational purposes. I'd suggest that if you want to drink, try Catholic churches first.)

You probably have a budget in mind already, perhaps you've gone to althing to request funds, or this is coronation and you have funds mandated for the event. Hall costs will dictate site fees. If your group will not be able to make the "big" numbers, there's no shame in a smaller venue, or a shorter rental time. The hall costs 500 bucks and you're expecting 100? $5.00 a head in site fees. Feast is also $5.00 a head? Site fee goes up to $10 bucks.

An event making a profit can be a tricky thing, as we are by nature a non-profit group. Any profits can be given to the funding group as donation, go to charity, or even go to fund the next event! Not all events make money, in fact few do! Don't feel bad if you spend your budget to the last penny. *

Most rental facilities will require at least some sort of deposit and signing a rental agreement. This is not scary! You can do it! However, if you're worried about being the signature on the rental agreement, remember, that dealing with mundane authorities is in your monarch's job description.


The hardest part of the whole event running equation is participants. You may have the best activities planned, eager skilled volunteers, a sweet hall and still have no one show up. What can you do to avoid such? Advertising. Multiple channels of advertising.

First use that schedule with all your cool activities. Create an event announcement that stresses the fun times in store. But also include:

  • When
  • Where
  • Who
  • How much

The why and the what will be covered when you talk about your fun activities. The when, where, and how much is vital to getting people to start planning to attend. The Who is for your contact information. People need to know who to volunteer to and ask questions of.

Then start "selling" the event. Emails are free, but they are also impersonal. Ask people you see at the field, talk to your friends from far and near, encourage everyone you see to attend the event. A personal invitation will have an impact.

Keep your event in the public buzz. Follow up emails to remind folks the event is coming up, sharing the cool site favors you're working on at the park, talking about the test recipe your feastocrat prepared, all these things help create interest. Make sure your volunteers are excited and spreading the news as well!

To wrap up, a sample pre-event timeline for a medium sized camping event, with schedule, lists and pimp email:

6 months prior to event:

Get financial approval.
Find location - rent location
Make Schedule
Assign jobs
Send "teaser email"

4 months prior to event:

Make site tokens
Send BIG email
Reserve Porta-potties
Attend events and "pimp"

3 months prior to event

Resend Big email
Attend events and "pimp"
Make "champions" prizes

2 months prior to event

Reconfirm reservations
Meet/talk with staff to make sure they have all they need.
Follow up email.
Attend events and "pimp"

1 month prior to event

Print tourney/judging brackets.
Print Schedule
Print site map
Print sign in sheets and waivers
Collect all that paper together and put it somewhere safe!
Touch base with staff (oops! Jill's baby came early - find her a replacement!)
Send "it's almost time" email
Check with monarch regarding court time needed
Get big banner to set up at gate

Week of event

Get good sleep
Get all your needed "tools" in one place
Pack your own items you'll need.
Send last email.
Load up the car and go!
Check porta-potty delivery

Event Schedule - your copy:


12:00 noon - site opens - need site tokens, sign in sheets, waivers, rocks to hold them down, pens - Group camping area - gate o crat jim
14:30 - 15:00 Weapons check - Main Field need 2 reeves (bob and joe) - Main Battlefield
15:00 - 17:00 early bird tourney (need 2 reeves (bob and joe) and tourney brackets and clipboard - Main battlefield
18:00 - 20:00 Potlatch feast! Brats and burgers and tofu burgers provided by house Grillot (need 2 runner/server/clean up crew - Pepito and Sir Smelly) - Large Pavilion
21:00 - 23:00 Bardic - best joke contest (need 3 judges, Fred, Wilma and Pete) - fire circle near Large Pavilion


08:00 - 09:00 Breakfast provided by the Whee Companies (whee co has said they will provide paper products for breakfast) - Whee co camp
09:00 - 09:30 Weapons check (need 2 reeves (bob and joe) - Large Pavilion
09:30 - 11:30 Quest for the bride! (need 4 wandering reeves, bob, joe, pete and carla, 20 monsters, fred wilma, Sir Smelly, Suzie, Mindy, Thud, Rutabaga, Ned, Gloria and Pepito.) Need Monster garb, 10 orcs, 1 banshee, 1 dread knight, 1 dracolich, 7 goblins - ranging throughout park on trails.
12:00 - 13:30 Lunch provided by The Addams Family (need disposable eating ware) - check on the feast crew to make sure they have everything they need! - Addams family camp
14:00 - 17:00 "Shotgun wedding" smash battle. (need 4 monsters Gloria, Pepito, Thud and Mindy and 4 reeves Wilma, Mark, Pete and Lucy) - Main Battlefield
18:30 - 20:30 Feast and court (Jill's replacement has her crew of 5 workers. They will start cooking at noon, feast will be served buffet style.) Need disposable eating ware. Need plastidip sword as prize for early bird tourney winner. Need fancy leather book as prize for Joke teller winner. - Large Pavilion

You can distill this schedule for multiple purposes like "who's doing what when" and "what I need to bring where." You can also use it in "pimp" emails like so:

"Come one come all to the Duchy of Rabid Weasels Early Summer camp out, June 3rdand 4th at Lake Ongabunga State Park. Fighting! A quest like no other! Smash battle of epic proportions! Food all weekend topped off with a delicious feast! Great fun with Emperor Santos de Christmas! All for only 15 bucks!

Event Schedule:

12:00 noon - site opens - Group camping area
14:30 - 15:00 Weapons check - Main Battlefield
15:00 - 17:00 early bird tourney - Show up early and show your stuff. - Main Battlefield
18:00 - 20:00 Potluck feast! Brats and burgers and tofu burgers provided by house Grillot - bring your chips, dips, salads and cupcakes! - Large Pavilion
21:00 - 23:00 Bardic - best joke contest - fire circle near large Pavilion


08:00 - 09:00 Breakfast provided by the Whee Companies - Whee Co. camp
09:00 - 09:30 Weapons check - Large Pavilion
09:30 - 11:30 Quest for the bride! Come help Emperor Santos retrieve his bride to be from the dread knight Sir Smelliopolis! Can you defeat his hordes and his dragon?
12:00 - 13:30 Lunch provided by The Addams Family - Addams Family camp
14:00 - 17:00 "Shotgun wedding" smash battle. The bride was found, but now we gotta fight about it! - Main Battlefield
18:30 - 20:30 Feast of roast hens, spicy vegetables, and fresh ice cream followed by court - Large Pavilion

Camping is included in the site fee costs. The park allows alcohol, however no kegs are allowed. A "quiet" camping area will be established for those with small children and early to bed folks."

Then follow up emails can be full of more details, less details, it's up to you. Use your imagination. The main thing is to keep people thinking about the event.

From the schedule you can distill a list like:

Things I need:
Judging sheets X3
tourney brackets and clipboard
site tokens
sign in sheets
rocks to hold down waivers
First aid kit
Disposable eating ware
Plastidip sword prize
Hand bound book prize
10 Orc garbs
1 dread knight costume
1 Banshee costume
"magic potion" in fancy bottle
7 goblin costumes
Dracolich costume
Printed Schedules
Big Duchy banner

Another useful list would be for your helpers. One very easy way to develop these lists is to make multiple copies of your schedule. High-light their names and times and what they need. That way they can be in charge of themselves!

These steps should make event running and organizing a little easier. Things will always happen when you're running an event, whether it be your feastocrat quitting at the last minute, or something terrible like your park being flooded out, the more you're prepared, the better you'll be able to deal with those challenges.

So now go! Make a great event!

*Fund raising for an event can be a great way to generate buzz about your event!

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