This is where you will find the history of the Feast and how it came about.
One of the most anticipated things leading up the Faire, is the Autumnal Feast. Like the Faire itself, it to is an annual event. It is held the weekend before the Faire, on the third Saturday of October. The Feast was begun in 1989 and was originally held in the fellowship hall of the First Presbyterian church in Florence on the corner of Tennessee & Wood Ave. Former Roundtable member Diana Tidwell headed up the kitchen, along with a riverboat chef, also a Roundtable member. They had help in the form of the SCA (Society for Creative Anachronisms) from Huntsville, Decatur and Cullman and they also provided entertainment for the feast.
They also provided the Monarchy, until 1991, when we decided that we wanted to try our hand at selecting the Monarch. It is during this event that we choose the monarch for the year to come. The method used then, hiding a coin inside of a piece of cake or other form of desert. is still utilized today. We chose this method, because it was discovered that there is at least one time in history when it was actually known to have been done. A Venetian Dodge was chosen in this fashion as it was assumed that whoever found the coin, God must have wanted them to find it.
In these early years Diana and her volunteers (Roundtable & SCA) would cook a variety of recipes from a book named “Fabulous Feasts”, along with 20th century fare. Also, we did not offer much of the pomp & circumstance, ceremony, etc, that a true feast of the era would have. And there came a time when we wanted to expand our palate and see if we could find someone to us do just that. Enter the SCA again, this time a local chapter started by someone attending UNA. They volunteered to head up the kitchen, and did so until their chapter president left the area when he graduated college. We then tried our hand at some local catering companies such as Outpost 72. graduated college. We then tried our hand at some local catering companies such as Outpost 72. During the college SCA time frame, the decision was made to move the feast from the Presbyterian fellowship hall to our current location at the coliseum, which would have been around 1996. There was considerably more room, and we increased the number of ticket sales from 200 to 250. And we have been there since!
From year to year, there were members of the Roundtable who brought up the interest of having more authentic foods presented at the feast. There was no one on the Roundtable who knew how to go about preparing such food. And so, the search was begun to find one who could aid us in this endeavor. While doing research for a lecture on Robin Hood, Lee Freeman cam across a website, http://www.godecookery.com/. He was completely amazed at what he saw, noting that the owner/webmaster was a medieval chef within the SCA, and knew pretty much anything one could possibly ever want to know about medieval/renaissance food & cooking. His website was a treasure trove of information, and even had a number of recipes translated from Old English into modern speech. Assuming that this person has a full calendar, our volunteer decided to email the chef and simply ask if they might recommend someone in our area, who might be able to cook for our feast.
Enter Jim Matterer, surprisingly, Jim replied that he did know of someone who would be available, and that someone was he, himself. The rest as they say is history.
In the earlier post, it was mentioned that we had moved to the Florence/Lauderdale Coliseum and could have room for up to 250 perople. However, it was decided to hold that number to 200, providing a more intimate atmosphere and helping to insure that we would sell out (we love to sell out, it means that people enjoy coming to something different. The ticket price is $25, and what you get is 2 ½ to 3 hours of food and entertainment. That is 4 removes of food as they are so called, because each one is “removed” from the table to make room for another. Each remove will have 3-4 dishes in each, for up to 12 different food items on the menu. We now offer much of the ceremony, pomp & circumstance that was lacking from the earlier years. Entertainment wise, it is quite difficult to find actual true to history entertainment, so we have to make peace with this (as we do the faire) and offer the best we can get. Entertainment goes on throughout the evening, and we try to offer variety from dancing, to singing, even some improvisation at times. Costumes, like the faire, aren’t required but admired and appreciated.
In the early years of the feast, it was thought that medieval and renaissance folk brought their own table ware and place settings with them when they went to a feast. We have since learned that it was simply not the case. Just as we do not bring our table ware with us when we go over to someone’s house for a meal today, so they did not do such during their time. It would also be considered quite the insult if you brought items of more value than the host. For the feast was where the host showed off their own wealth to others, not the other way around. However, it has become a favored tradition amongst feast goers to decorate their tables. We even offer a contest for the favorite decorated table. The current Monarch will choose a favorite table by the end of the evening and the recipients will receive 2 free tickets to next year’s feast.