Let me preface this by saying that we had a good time at Potrero, even though we were only there for about five hours. It was a reconnaissance mission for next year, which was pretty well successful. We got to see a lot of our archer friends and meet some new people who were very nice. We also didn't get to "play" much, mostly watch, and the SCA is not for watchers, it's for doers, so we got bored after a while. Next year, more play, more volunteer, less watch.
Potrero War is very pretty. I didn't get around to taking pictures (more on that later), but it's set in a large-ish park with plenty of space for camping, with many pretty oak trees and lots of golden-dry grass. The battlefields were smaller than I expected; the heavy list field was no bigger than a soccer field, if that large. I think it was smaller. There were two small archery ranges, next to each other, one with three targets for the newbies and one with five or six for the not-so-new. (keshwyn
, let me get the details on the plague rat shoot from you at some point please -- I think they'd have fun with it.) The rapier field adjoins the archery field and is about half to two-thirds the size of the heavy list field, I think.
We skipped doing archery this year, since we were only there a short time, and both of us were sore from moving. Didn't want to aggravate anything. Again, next year, more play less watch.
Somehow we managed to not see any of the battles. The fighters were up late and finished early, so we totally missed them in a span of about two hours where we wandered to Merchant's Row and to lunch. The rapiers were about to start when the Queen showed up, and well ... one or two awards later, we wandered off, because we didn't know anyone who was getting awards.
This is my first time attending any War, so I don't know if a typical ratio of modern tents to medieval tents clocks in at about 15-1, but that was Potrero's ratio. We were there late in the war, so things were kind of disheveled all over. I'm sad that we couldn't go the day before; I really wanted to see the period pavilion tour, but that was only on Saturday. Hopefully they'll have it again next year.
We were supposed to camp with House O'Dell, but since we were only there for the day, we didn't do any camping. House O'Dell's encampment is pretty impressive in terms of logistics. The tents are sheltered under reflective silver tarps to keep them shaded. They have a dining pavilion large enough for twenty to thirty people with small tables and benches, all handmade by Larry and Torin. They have a kitchen tent set up with a freezer(!), hot water on-demand via the RV hookup, tankless hot water heater and propane tank combination, and a reasonable amount of space to work. They are also one of the few encampments permitted to have a shower. (Also hooked up to the hot water on demand if your solar bag is not hot enough.) And a firepit, and a flagpole upon which anyone camping with them can raise their banner. They also have a resident bugler that plays reveille at 8am. Apparently it used to be 6am, but that didn't fly well with the other residents of Sleepy Hallow, and Jason was banned from playing morning reveille for a couple of years.
House O'Dell also has the gnome encampment. (; When the Artemas group split off from House O'Dell, they hid a bunch of lawn gnomes all over the O'Dell encampment. This became something of an institution, and now the gnome refugees have their own tent and signage pointing to it.
There were no A&S competitions at Potrero. There was a siege cookoff, but that was Saturday and I didn't get to find out how it went.
The things that were awkward: maybe it's just the people we know, but it didn't feel like very many people were putting much if any effort into period and persona. I went away feeling that Caid desperately needs a Poulet Gauche.
It was hard to feel medieval surrounded by modern tents with people talking about modern things, and rarely even using "my lord" or "my lady". And this was why I wasn't taking pictures -- between the modern appearances and the low focus on maintaining a medieval feel, I couldn't find anything I wanted to take pictures of, nor did I feel comfortable breaking the medieval feel further with a cell phone camera.
I thought Toby was kidding when he said that we'd win a garb contest for Asian garb hands down, but it was no joke. (There were only a few Asians there, mostly generic Chinese as far as I could tell.) I wouldn't put us in the top 10% on garb, but I would put us in the top 25%, and what I made was basic. I would consider our outfits to be average and our feast gear similarly (it's not at all researched, but it looks in-character. No paper plates and paper towels for us). It's war, so I expect there will be Goths and pirates and whatever, but I talked with someone who didn't even know where their garb was from -- and they'd made it themselves! o_O A lot of it was generic medieval, and a lot of it was mishmash medieval. Some of the fighter groups were quite impressive looking, though.
It's a very different culture from Carolingia, and I'm not sure what I think. I enjoy doing excessive period/persona research, it's fun for me. People out here don't seem to care, they just want to play without worrying about it. It's very uncomfortable for me; they've got some of "those people" out here who are obnoxious about it. I don't want to be obnoxious about it, but period/persona, culture and art are the *reasons* I play. I'm conflicted over the experience and not sure what I want to do next.