A Comparison of Levels

Entering A&S Faires – A Comparison of Levels

Local Faires, Competitions, and Formats

Local faires are a great place to begin competing. Any canton, shire, or barony can hold an Arts and Science Faire. It is often referred to as a local faire because most of the entrants are from the local area surrounding the group and the faire itself is not trying to meet a certain standard.. Local faires may follow many different formats.

In general, local faires are more casual and relaxed than those at the regional or kingdom level. Attendance is often limited to people from the immediate area and the event schedule is not as hectic. Because it is a common starting place and it is more relaxed, entering at the local level is an excellent place for an artisan to “get his feet wet.”

First, a local faire is a great opportunity to learn what other people think about your work. Feedback about your craft comes in many different forms. The most common form of feedback is from the casual observer who sees a pretty thing and stops to admire it. While this feedback is perfectly legitimate and really nice to hear, it is often a quick observation and not a comprehensive evaluation. Depending on the format of the local competition, it can be an excellent opportunity for more detailed and thoughtful feedback.

If an item is entered in a faire, the observations are more concrete. Any commentary received at a faire is normally based on a general knowledge of historical crafts and techniques. Documentation helps the judge place an entry in the appropriate time, place, and culture. That vital information helps the judge to consider the appropriate techniques and materials used for the time. It also helps a judge in providing specific and detailed feedback about your entry and its documentation. As a result, the local judges can give an entrant guidelines about how to improve his or her craft and how to grow as an artisan. Those suggestions often contain valuable tips about entering in a larger arena, such as a regional or a kingdom level competition.

If an artisan wants to take his or her work to the next level of competition, regional, it is normally a good idea to find the judges and talk with them. A judge can often provide more feedback and valuable information in person. It is difficult to explain everything in writing. Judges are delighted at the opportunity to meet the artisan and discuss his or her craft. By nature, judges enjoy learning more about entries and judges love the chance to talk shop with another artisan.

Sometimes local faires and competitions wish to encourage entries that follow a specific theme. If an entry does not follow that theme, talk to those in charge. They may be willing to accept that entry anyway. However, that entry may not do as well as one which does follow the event theme.

Second, it is very important to consider the format when entering at local faires. Because local events may be short-staffed, the faires follow many different formats. All of the formats are valuable but each has different strengths and weaknesses.

Populace Choice Format: This format is competitive. It is a quick and efficient way to determine a favorite entry whenever a group wants to award a prize for the winner. Each person receives normally receives a bead and votes by placing his bead in a cup. At the end of the competition, someone counts the beads and a winner is announced.

Advantages: This format is easy and quick. It requires little set-up and administration time. The fairecrat only needs to count the number of beads.

Disadvantages: The first drawback is a lack of feedback. If you do not win a populace choice contest, you have no idea about at all what people thought about your entry. The winner only knows that his entry won the popularity contest and nothing else. The second drawback is that the populace often votes on the spurt of the moment. As a result, they normally vote for their immediate favorite without considering the amount of effort or research that went into the making of the item. It is important to realize that this format is really competition, and not a faire, because each entry is weighed against the others. Another drawback is that populace participation may be low. Not all event attendeses will go to the arts area and vote.

Alternative Judging Formats: This format is competitive. Adapted judging occurs whenever a local group uses judging forms that are different than those used the regional or kingdom level. This often occurs when the group wants to provide more organized feedback but still wants to be able to recognize a ‘winner’ for the purposes of awarding a prize. It often uses a numeric scale.

All the entries, often irregardless of category, are judged on a numeric scale (see an example below) that allows the judges a quick assessment to determine the best entry. It is the hoped that a scale of 3 to 40 points will give the entrant a general idea about his or her work and providing a clear numeric winner for the prize. If the competition follows a theme, extra points may be awarded to entries that follow that theme.

Documentation: 0 to 10 points. No points awarded to entries without documentation and ten point awarded to entries with outstanding documentation. Skill Score: 1 to 10 points. One point is awarded because it takes some skill to simply construct an item and ten points to an entry that is demonstrates outstanding skill.
Artistic Score: 1 to 10 points. One point awarded for the display of basic effort. Ten points awarded to entries that are historically accurate and impressive. Overall Effect: 1 to 10 points. One point awarded for minimal effort. Ten points awarded for an entry that is immensely pleasing to the senses.

Advantages: This format is also very easy to administer and quickly determines a clear prize-winner. It also allows a more careful consideration of the merits of each entry.

Disadvantages: While the strengths and weakness of each entry are more clearly identified, the entrant receives no guidelines or suggestions about how to improve his or her work and documentation. Once again, details may be vague or missing.

Normal Judging Formats: This format is not normally competitive. Normal judging format occurs whenever a local group uses the judging forms that are used throughout the rest of the kingdom. Local groups normally follow this format whenever they are not trying to arrive a clear winner for a prize. These forms allow the judges to evaluate each entry separately from the others and completely on its own merit. Judging that follows this format often provides the best preparation for entry at the other levels. It is important to realize that there is more to the differences in faires than just the style of juding sheet. Depending on the faire, the feedback that entrants receive may be geared very differently. Local faires are intended to welcome beginning artists.

Advantages: The entrant is provided with detailed feedback. Strengths are carefully identified and explained. The judges often provide suggestions about how an artist may improve his or her work.

Disadvantages: This format requires a lot of time and often requires a staff of two or three people to administer.

Regional Faires, Competitions, and Formats

Regional Faires are a great way opportunity for an artist to display his or her work and to view the work of artisans from other groups. These faires are often bigger and more serious than local ones. Regional Faires may also follow different formats.

First, a regional faire is a great opportunity to learn what other artists think about your work. While you are often the only one interested in a certain craft in your local group, that is not the always the case in the regional setting. Regional Faires attract a wider range of artists and increase the chances that you will encounter others who specialize in the same craft as you do. As a result, your feedback often has much more substances than the “pretty shirt” comment that you will see at the local level. Regional Faires often follow one of three formats.

Alternative Judging Format: It is competitive. As with local competitions, a juding sheet that uses a numberic scale is often involved. In order to judge a large number of entries in a short amount of time, entrants are often asked to judge the work of their fellow competitors within their category.

Advantages: It is easy to set up. It takes organization and planning on the part of the fairecrat and staff to insure that all entries are judged and tabulated appropriately. It is not time consuming because the artists are active participants within the competition. The judging is completed by others who have experience within their specialty or category.

Disadvantages: As before, a numeric scale only provides a guideline without specific details. The human element may be a complicating factor in a competition that follows this format.

Display Format: This format does not involve competition or judging. When a regional faire follows this format, the artists are encouraged to bring a selection of their work and to remain with it. The populace, including other artists, are allowed to view the work and to converse with the entrants at their leisure.

Advantages: It is easy to set up and adminisiter. The biggest requirement is space, tables, and chairs. This format is a great opportunity to meet other artists and discuss your favorite obsession. It is very low key.

Disadvantages: It is not always possible to receive the constructive criticism so neccesarry for artistic growth. When constructive criticism is given, it is completely verbal and the entrant may have a difficult time remembering exactly what was discussed at the end of a long day of talking shop.

Normal Judging Formats: As noted earlier, this format is not normally competitive. Normal regional faires use the judging sheets that are used at Kingdom Arts and Sciences. It is an excellent opportunity for entrants to learn of needed changes or improvements. Feedback will allow entrants to improve their documentation, presentation, and artwork. Judges will identify areas of strength as well as areas that need improvement. To steal a phrase from the army, the judges want to help you to be all that you can be. Entering at the regional level is an excellent way to determine if your entry is appropriate for entry at the kingdom level..

Advantages: The entrant is provided with detailed feedback from those who are very knowledgeable. Strengths are carefully identified and explained. Suggestions for improvement are almost always included.

Disadvantages: This format requires a lot of time and often requires a large staff. The fairecrat will need to structure the faire so that it will run smoothly. The fairecreat will also need to recruit knowledgeable judges to staff the faire.

Second, regional faires often provide wonderful opportunities for aristic growth and inspiration. These faires provide an excellent opportunity to meet others interested in the same craft. The opportunity to talk shop is a great way to learn about better materials, sources, or techniques. It is a great way to learn where your weaknesses are and to improve upon them. Because an entrant is talking to other artists, the knowledge base is much broader and much more informed than what is normally encountered at the local level.

Kingdom Level Arts and Science Faire

Kingdom Arts and Science Faire is the place for veteran arts to bring their best work. While new artists are not prohibited from entering, it may not be advisable because standards for excellence are much higher than at the local level. All categories at KA&S are judged by artists who specialize within a particular category. The knowledge base available for entrants and judges is expected to be far more extensive at this level as well.

All judging for KA&S follows the normal judging format with specialized judging sheets appropriate for a particular category. While artists are often allowed to display their work within the juding hall, it is marked display only and artists are not allowed to remain in the hall during the judging process.

Advantages: Each entry is evaluated on its own merits, indepenently of others within its category. The judges are extremely knowledgeable and will provide detailed feedback. An entry is carefully examined. Strengths are identified and constructive cricism will be included within the commentary. Entering at this level is almost always a learning experience

Disadvantages: The disadvantages of this format are the same as at the regional level. It requires organization and a large, knowledgeable staff.

If you think that you may be interested in entering at this level but are unsure if you are ready to take the plunge, consult a friendly Laurel and seek his or her advice. The Laurelate will be delighted to help you. You can also contact the faire staff about ‘shadow judging’ in a particular category. One of the best ways to learn what judges expect for a kingdom level entry is to listen to the actual jury process. Shadow judging will allow you to be the proverbial fly on the wall and listen to the judges think aloud.

Inter-Kingdom Faires and Competitions

Inter-kingdom faires and competitions follow their own set of rules and guidelines. As a result, they can be different from year to year. The format can vary widely. Interkingdom Faires have used everything from Populace Choice Competitions to the Juried Panels found at the Kingdom Arts and Science Faire. Please check the flyer for the important information.