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Rowany Festival, are you prepared?

By Duena Acacia de Navarre (edited and updated by Constanzia Moralez y de Zamora)

  • You will have by now heard the refrain "Rowany Festival is two weeks away", and even though it is Easter next year and that may seem ages away, it is best to start planning early especially if you are on a budget.
  • First let's start with the basics - what is Rowany Festival? It is the biggest event the SCA runs in Australia/New Zealand. Approximately 1,000 mad medievalists all get together and attend collegia, shop, sing, drink, party, dance, and of course fight both individually and in large scale wars. To put it mildly it is a lot of fun! But it works best if you have done your preparation, otherwise you could find yourself cold, hungry and unhappy. Below are a couple of essential things to think about even this far out from Easter.

Site Booking

  • To be able to go to Rowany you will first need to book to enter the site. Rowany Festival is run by the Barony of Rowany and you have to book with them to be able to enter onto the site (/rowany/festival/).
  • The earlier you book the cheaper it is. It is possible to pay at the gate but this is much more expensive and it is better for everyone if you book before you go so that the organisers can plan for the numbers that will attend.
  • There is an information booklet on the site as well which will give you some more information about the event.

Campsite Bookings

  • One of the easiest ways of having fun at Rowany is booking with an established campsite. These groups, such as the St Florian Campsite, will arrange a food fund and facilities (showers, stoves, communal tents, etc). In exchange you pay them a fee and also work a number of shifts at festival. All campsites are run differently and some are invitation only, but a campsite can be an easier and more comfortable option than what you could do on your own. Most campsites are cheaper if you pay earlier than later, and if you leave it too late then they may be booked out.
  • It is not essential to camp with an established group. You can stay at a nearby pub or hotel and day trip to site, but be warned much of the local accommodation is booked out over Easter. You can also camp by yourself and either arrange your own food or book with one of the many kitchens which can supply you with meals.
  • There are no longer Communal showers available on site. Private encampments will have camp arranged showers. 
  • There are food stalls as well.
  • If you intend to camp on your own you will not be allowed to camp just anywhere, much of the land is allocated to existing campsites and you will need to get directions from the stewards about where you can set up your tent.

Clothing

  • This is the one thing that requires the most amount of work and planning. Festival is in Garb, therefore you will need to have clothing from Friday Morning until Monday Evening (at the least). Festival temperatures vary from up to 30C during the day (although they average about 25C) through to 0C at night. Temperatures drop dramatically at sunset.
  • One of the best ways of surviving Festival is to layer up, the more layers the warmer you are, and of course you can wear less during the day. A good wool cloak or coat is worth it weight in gold, also don't forget head covering (you loose a lot of heat from your head), gloves, warm waterproof shoes and socks. Spencers and Track pants can also be worn under garb for even more warmth.
  • You can survive festival with one outer piece of garb (but this can be pretty boring). But it is essential that you have fresh chemises/shirts/undergarment for each day. It is possible to wash when down there but this is difficult. Talk to some of the Rowany veterans, we are all happy to help and advise a newbie to festival, also look out for sewing sessions as there are experienced sewers out there to help you get your gear together, but don't expect anyone to do it all for your. If you can't sew there are other things you could do, barter or learn a new skill, you never know you could be a natural.

Tent, Bedding and Seating

  • Nothing worse than being so cold at night so that you can't sleep, and previously some festivals got down to -3 overnight.  However, it has also been quite hot and humid overnight also.  There are a number of options, first is to make sure you are off the ground. The ground is one of the main areas of heat loss at night. If you plan to use a sleeping bag, be sure to take something to insulate you from the ground, for example an air mattress, rubber base mat or even bales of straw which can be ordered off the Rowany booking sheet. If you are taking down blankets and an air mattress be sure to bring down as many blankets for underneath you as on top.
  • You are responsible for your own tent and seating, and just like you can't sleep on the ground you also can't sit on it for very long (too cold). Folding chairs can often be very cheaply hired on the Rowany booking sheet, but this needs to be done before the cut off date which is usually early February.

Transport

  • This is another thing you will need to organise for yourself, and it is best to do so as early as possible. If you are planning on getting a lift down then you will need to negotiate how much stuff you can bring as well as the cost. There is always much more stuff to bring down than you planned. If you are planning on flying or taking other transport then remember there is no regular transport to the site although they do try to organise people to help with pick ups, but it is best if you can coordinate with others to help you. 
  • There 
  • These are only some quick point to keep in mind this far out from Festival, you will be hearing a lot more about festival closer to the time. It is an amazing event and I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible.