And the Winner Is…… Which Guy? Uh, that guy?

by Mike Kendra on November 7, 2011

A Nice Place to Have Photos Taken, but Can We Do Better?

If you stroll down to the Memorial Circle at Fort Shenandoah during and after a National Skirmish you may have seen the production of the awards ceremony.

Every year individuals and teams file into the circle as their names are called, shake the commanders hand, grab their medals and trophies, and then join the mob of skirmishers trying to file into the corner to get their photos taken.

Onlookers fight for position outside the circle to catch a peek at what’s going on, sometime fighting with the cars passing by at that hour. Some sneak into the circle to get that important photo.

And if we are unlucky enough to have rain at ceremony time, the whole production moves into the barn.

It’s also in some ways confusing, awards are awarded from 1st place on down. Most people are probably more used to the bottom to top format of announcing of award winners, so if you aren’t paying close attention, it’s easy to miss a Gold Medal winner.

As far as I know, this is how it has always been.

Well, I don’t know about you, but I’m always thinking. How can this be done better? Well let’s see…

Thinking Big

I was thinking that maybe we need to consider creating an awards podium! No, a mobile platform, an awards platform!

If we had the desire, we could construct a three tiered mobile platform designed to be mounted on top of one of our farm trailers.

What you need details? Okay…

Three tiers, first place in the center, the highest tier, second and third on either side, you know like the Olympics. It would need steps, something easy to get up and down, and handrails to keep everyone safe. I’d suggest a wall on the back side, some place to put the N-SSA logo, and the National Skirmish number (125th, etc.), and maybe even a place to put the award type (A-1 Musket Team, A-3 Carbine Team, and such) painted blue and gray, with red white and blue accents)

We couldn’t drive this into memorial park! No of course not, but there is a nice area just behind the park that you could park the trailer. Then, here is the genius of this plan, you know how everyone stands outside the memorial park fence? You could let everyone into the park, team members, and everyone else, and then walk them out and up to the new awards platform as each award is presented. This would alleviate issues of people blocking traffic while the awards ceremony is going on (think Saturday afternoon, during the third relay of the cannon match…)

And when it rains, just set it all up in the barn,

Talk about a photo opportunity!

Thinking Bigger

In the N-SSA there is lots and lots of drama, from the first event, to the final standings….

Oh, wait, no there really isn’t.

Everybody rushes over to the stat house when the events are over and all the drama ends right there with the results sealed behind glass….

So protests and controversy aside, there really isn’t much drama.

Everybody loves to see their names at the stat house and word spreads like wildfire when a new stat is posted. I guess there is drama involved. But it could be so much better.

What if the stats for the top 3 A-1 Musket Teams was suppressed? Lets say you just listed the top three teams in alphabetical order as each draft of the event was posted, with no places, times, or totals. You would either be inside the top 3, or out. (This may be a non-starter if you consider protests though…)

And Two More Things…

On Sunday, we could bring the top 3 teams to the brand new awards platform and announce from 3rd to 1st who won the musket match. Yes, award the medals and trophies in reverse order!

Oh, and announce the biggest awards last, isn’t that how its done everywhere else in the world? You keep the park full of people, and the biggest winners get the most recognition.

That would be drama wouldn’t it?

Do we have a spare trailer? Do we have the budget? Don’t we have sponsors now?

Well, maybe things won’t be changing anytime soon, but hey, if you’re going to plant a seed, you need to start with a good seed, am I right?

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Mark Morton November 7, 2011 at 1:41 pm

Let’s start with the PA system at the awards ceremony in Memorial Park, turn it up so the crowd can hear (instead of having one guy/gal that stays close and lets the rest of his/her team mates know when they’re about to be called). This may require re-positioning the speakers after the civilian dress competition so you don’t get a lot of feedback. All though Mike’s idea of letting everyone in close could solve this problem also.

Rob Trost November 7, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Mike, the first to last method was just recently added . when they do the national champs last nobody is there to see it , every one else gets there medals and heads for home .

Mike Kendra November 8, 2011 at 12:09 pm


I had no idea that was a recent change, but it sure confused me this last National. I can see the point in doing the big medal winners first, while the crowd is the largest, but it’s almost like it’s compounding the problem, and making the ceremony less enjoyable, less dramatic.

Mike Kendra November 8, 2011 at 12:11 pm


This is a good point, I’ve always wished the PA system could be improved, but turning the volume up isn’t the solution. I agree with what you agreed with, um, if that makes sense, put the people in a place where they can hear the person at the podium speaking!

Phil Spaugy November 15, 2011 at 1:26 pm

As with most thing, it comes down to funding. For a number of years we have had plans to build a event pavilion in the area to the east of memorial park. This type of building would be used for a number of things, including awards ceremonies. The simple fact of the matter is that we just don’t have the funds available for such a project at this time.

I know that you can appreciate that fact, given the cost of your great websites and the need to for you to try and generate revenue by advertising and sponsorships.

Mike, you mentioned we have sponsors. Yes, we do. For one Nationals we did have sponsors. That said, we have much work to do to keep the sponsorship program fresh and give it some longevity. I never have been an advocate of spending money until its in our pocket. So while the sponsorship program is great, I want to see it better established before we count on it as an consistent source of funding. I know that you can appreicate that fact, given the cost of your great websites and the need to generate revenue to help you offset that expense.

All that said, in my view the biggest single challenge of involving more or our members in our musket / artillery awards ceremony is simply when it happens. Most of the people are well on their way home by 4:00 PM on a Sunday afternoon. Distant units leave a few representatives to pickup their awards, or have members from other units in their regions pick them up.

And yes, we just recently changed the order of awards, simply to insure that their would be more of a crowd to give the proper recognition to our musket champions in all classes. Before the change the only folks left when the first place awards were given out were the families and members of the winning units.


Tom Magno December 20, 2011 at 1:57 pm

This brings up several good points. I never understood why we hold “opening” ceremonies on the final day and before the final match. To me, it sounds more like “closing” ceremonies. For Nationals, the opening ceremonies should be held before the first major company competition, either on Saturday morning prior to Carbine, or on Friday. Granted, the majority of units/members will be there on Saturday – so I think that’s better for ‘opening’ the competition.
Funding not available? I don’t recall what the latest accounting status for all line items was for the Association. Funding for range improvements has a line item. If we fence monies for an awards podium or similar activities focal point, with a 2 or 3 year goal to complete, it will happen. Without a specific approved budget and timeline, it won’t happen. Someone has to forward a plan to the BOD. As with all major expenditures, it will have to be studied, committeed, restudied, amended, then disapproved. I say this tongue in cheek – but that’s how most view the process.
I think the sound problem should, with today’s technology, be easily fixed. We are relying upon and old podium, a small (indoor style) amp and a couple of speakers. The barn dance is so loud you can hear it in area 4. Why not get something like that? Surely there is enough budget available for a decent sound system for the pentultimate awards ceremony following our national competitition, no?

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