I have been asked a couple of times by fellow reenactors online, but also at one of the very few training events that I went to this year, what I think will happen next year: Will event XY take place? Will we have a Wolin, will we have a season?
I thought long about this, and I think we as viking reenactors will have to come to terms with the fact that
we will not have a season next season, or in 2022.
Maybe not for the years to come, either. Large events like Wolin, the Hedeby Summer Market, Neustadt-Glewe or the market in Schlotzau which was organized by a dear friend, will in all likelyhood not take place in the same form as this year.
It’s the end of October, and this is the time where many markets begin their application process. Forms are sent out, people plan for next year, with a fresh memory of all the great events in the past season motivating them to craft and train in winter. This year, however, we are heading into another lockdown, and there is no betterment in sight.
Market organizers need to prepare for events, and the number of items to prepare is seemingly endless. The most important prerequisites, however, are the venue and the participants. Neither can be prepared for 2021.
Venues for early medieval reenactment events in Germany (and I think in many other parts of Europe) are either publicly-owned museums, public parks or private properties (for example acres or private parks). I cannot imagine that any museum curator, public servant or private landowner would want to engage in discussions about hosting a medieval or viking market while being in lockdown – it’s just totally out of everyone’s scope right now. I imagine that this would be the main hindrance for events in 2021.
Participants, however, have issues of their own. After a year of homeschooling, childcare, loss of income due to coronavirus, and continued uncertainty, many will find themselves unable or unwilling to engage in planning for markets. Each event requires taking days off work, often considerable travel distances, and substantial planning and work by participants. And that’s not even including the packing and unpacking, the gear repair and so on.
How can one plan for an event if ongoing discussion is afoot to change the length and placement of summer holidays – the core timeframe for viking events? How can I plan a week off for festivals when I’m neither sure I’ll be allowed to travel there nor if I might have to home-school my children?
I think we will see that participants will be more reluctant to commit to events early, making event planning harder, and carrying a higher risk for event organizers: If participation is low, a vicious circle starts that might well doom an otherwise healthy event within a few years.
So what can we do?
It’s not all doom and gloom, though. I think that – if we accept the inevitable – we can find new ways.
In my opinion, the viking reenactment community should start thinking seriously about alternative formats and methods of gathering, doing the hobby, and staying safe with the virus. Having a battle with 500 participants, shoulder to shoulder, is not going to happen. Small living history events, in museums or on private property, might work (or might pose an incredible risk, we just don’t know yet).
What I would love to see is a lively discussion about things that could work, concepts that could be approved by the authorities, methods of living history that would be fun while not being a super-spreading event. And for winter (and subsequent lockdown periods), ways to connect not only with your local peer group, but with larger parts of the reenactment community, apart from the occasional „virtual market“ which is mainly sales-oriented.
What has already been done? What are your ideas? I would love to read about them – leave a comment or engage with us on Facebook. I’ll collect the most inspiring ideas from all comment threads and post them in this article.
Am I seeing things to gloomy? I’d love to be convinced otherwise – comment and let’s discuss!