The Society organises a banquet every year, which is an opportunity for us to meet socially and receive awards. The event is hosted by one, or more, local groups. If you are interested in hosting a banquet, please contact the Konungr (konungr[at]vikingsonline.org.uk). We are also always looking for suitable venues, please help if you can.
The following suggestions, from a seasoned banquet host, will guide groups who are considering hosting a society banquet:
- Talk to the officers/Witan of your Group. Don’t think you can do this on your own, you will need the help and support of all of them.
- Talk to your Group. Don’t think that this is on a need-to-know basis only, they will not be best pleased to find out 2 weeks before the event is announced or from another Viking member.
- If you have the backing of the officers and the Group, now is the time to get started. Give yourself as much time as you can. Six months is good, and a lot better than 6 weeks!
- Find a date and venue. Ideally the Banquet should be before the Society training weekend at Easter. This is because you will need to take all the stuff people left behind at the Banquet and dump it on the Konungr! The venue is probably THE HARDEST BIT OF THE ENTIRE PROCESS. You need enough space for at least 200 people plus the cooks and serving staff. If it can’t LEGALLY hold this number, then you will have to trim down the number of tickets you sell. Also, don’t forget about Parking! Ideally it will have a separate room for the Jarls' meeting, enough for 60 seated people. Check that people can sleep inside, or on a field. Any external doors/gates are locked, key or combination.
- You need to find out if there are any specific considerations. For example, the venue may specify everyone has to buy beer, wine, spirits etc from the bar until it closed. You may be able to negotiate exceptions - e.g mead
- Once a date has been sorted, you really need from midday Friday to midday Sunday. This is so you can get the Jarls' meeting room sorted and start planning the main banqueting Hall.
- There a 3 main people who need to head this project. You, Head Chef and Hall manager. You are the point of contact for the other 2. DELEGATE! The chef is solely responsible for the food. Ideally, he/she should have enough helpers to get the job done, balanced against the size of the kitchen. THE KITCHEN IS OUT OF BOUNDS TO EVERYONE! There is no need for anyone to go in there, however there should be a person who is the go between, it saves a lot of stress that way! The chef needs to prepare the banquet and the buffet lunch for the Jarls' meeting with his/her Team
- Menu. Two ways of doing all this, import everything in (expensive) or do it all yourselves (hard work but cheap) Keep the banquet menu simple, bread, soup, meat, veg sweet, and don’t forget our veggie/vegan friends! The jarls' buffet, again, can be brought in or prepared by the cooking team.
- Treasurers job, to sort out tickets, either Paypal (friends and family, NOT business as it causes problems) If they can, put it on a spreadsheet, so you can keep tabs on things, all the better!
- The ticket sales will dictate your budget on the banquet. You aren’t meant to make a massive profit, but equally you don’t want to be asking the Treasurer for a hand out cos you have spent all the Group funds! The Jarls' meeting food is paid for by the society. Tickets need to go on sale at least 2 months before the beginning of the month of the Banquet. This is because you need to know how much to budget!
- Hopefully, you will have a cash-and-carry card, Bookers/Macro etc. If you are planning on doing it yourself, you can get everything from there. Food for banquet and Jarls' meeting. Cleaning stuff for afterwards and bin liners, lots of bin liners!
- On the Friday, get down and start setting out the Jarls' meeting. Tea, coffee, sugar and milk and a tea urn if they have one. The main banquet hall can be set up as well. Save places for banners along the walls, and a place for the Society banner and the hearth troops banners as well, to go behind the high table.
- The Hall Manager could also try and organise the parking for caravans/mobile homes etc.
- Some jarls will arrive Friday, so you might want to provide bacon butties! Same on Sunday morning. You can charge people extra for breakfasts.
- On the Saturday, the jarls have lunch at about 1 ish. It really depends on when the buffet is ready, normally organised by the chef. Keep the buffet simple, sandwiches, pork pies, sausage rolls, and some stuff for veggies/vegans.
- The Banquet itself. You will need servers! They get a drengr point for helping out if they haven’t already got one. Depending on how the Hall is set out will depend on how the logistics of serving is carried out. The only certainty is the High table gets served first. Aluminium platters are your friend, as are the aluminium serving dishes, you can pile veg/potatoes etc in them and leave them on the table. Jugs for gravy!
- Don’t forget the Awards during the Banquet. This a great natural window to get the first course cleared away and the second course ready to go. Remember, if the chefs are up for an award, put them last as they will not relish the idea of coming out when they are trying to organise the next course!
- The helpers need feeding as well! Use the natural gaps in the proceedings for the helpers to eat.
- After everyone has finished, the chefs will want to clean the kitchen down. The helpers can help if needed, but they should get the tables cleared. Once that’s done, everyone can have a well-earned beer.
- Sunday morning you need a clean-up crew. The floor can be swiftly swept and the tables and chairs returned to their original start positions. Banners taken down and hopefully everyone out by 12. This gives you the chance to check the Hall(s) are in the same, or better, condition than when you found it.
- You will have Lost Property! That needs to be collected up, photographed and put on FB so people can see what they have left behind. Take the box to the training week end and re-unite people with their stuff.
- Lastly, when everyone has gone, one last check in all rooms, behind stages where ever people may have slept, and check for anything else.
- Go home and collapse in a heap!#