Etonia Fish and Biscuit Rally

Written by samsaratg

Half way between the spring cross quarter and the summer equinox the boats start gathering in numbers that challenge the dock hands to use every inch of pier. Some boats are just anchored in the shallow water around the dock or even pulled onto the beach. This marks the beginning of rally season. The fields have been planted, most of the spring rains have settled to a more manageable rate, and everyone is ready for a break and to have a festival.   The Rally itself is held on the day of the Summer Equinox. The shoreline and pier are filled with people and food stands. The day is spent relaxing on the beaches, watching the fishing on the horizon, or in your boat trying to bring in the best catch of the day. Half of the fish caught are given to the City of Etonia Many fisherman donate a portion of their haul to the church. Locals have stands where they clean and filet fish throughout the day. Stations for smoking and drying mass quantities fish are set up along the beach. Several sages from the library are always on hand to flash freeze fish for storage and/or transport as well. Stands with fried biscuits and other treats are scattered throughout the city.  

History

Etonia started as a small fishing town. That tradition continues even as the city has grown, now focused on exporting stone and silver from the mine, hides and leather from the forest, and surplus from the fields when years are good. In the spring fish migrate close to the shallows along the coast to spawn. After spawning season is done the fishing can commence. In the past, the sudden and important bounty required everyone to spend some time fishing. Now the season attacts people from far down the coast who want to participate in the event. It can double the population of the city and is a boon for many - just don't try to find a room at an inn during the week leading up to the Rally.  

How it works

With his, her, or their first catch after the spring cross quarter day, a fisherman can enter the Rally. Traveler's only need to catch a fish somewhere within the Bay of Claws. Most catch one on their way to Etonia. It is easy enough to catch one near the shore as well, so anyone that wants to enter can surely claim a spot. The only other thing they need is a boat under 20ft long. Boats can have up to 6 people but the catch from the rally is either split evenly or each catch needs to be documented. Nets are not allowed, only fishing rods.   Early on the morning of the Summer Equinox the fleet of boats sets off to catch as many fish as they can. The fisherman with the largest catch, the smallest catch, the largest total quantity, and the largest total weight are awarded prizes from the master of ceremonies on the Summer Equinox. For a catch to count the fisherman must bring their haul to the dock master to be weighed and counted. A fisherman can request that they keep half their haul but half is taken for use by the city of Etonia. This is a primary food source over the summer until the new harvest from the fields starts. All boats must be moored by 4pm for their catch to be counted in the rally.  

Master of Ceremonies

This lucky fisherman is selected by lottery. The lottery entry is made when a fisherman registers their first catch. The Master of Ceremonies is selected a week before the Rally. Throughout the week they host gatherings at each of the taverns. Their individual tab is paid by the tavern. The schedule of gatherings is posted around the city and heralded by town-criers.   On the day of the rally, a short ceremony is held at the end of the dock. After a short speech, traditionally 10 minutes or less, a ribbon is cut and fisherman jump into their boats. They race to their preferred fishing locations. The master of ceremonies does not get to participate in the rally but continues to MC as fisherman return later in the day.  

Food

About 3 weeks before the Summer Solistice, biscuit stands start appearing around the city. They are all up and operating a week before the Rally. The stands usually consist of an umbrella with a large pot of cooking oil. A fire or magical source of heat is used to boil the oil. Dough using up left over winter wheat is fryed to make a tasty treat for passers by. The wheat and dough is not a high quality as it is the last of the stores so the deep frying makes it more palatable. With the increase in foreign participants stands started using spices like sugar, salt, and herbs to flavor the biscuits. Some stands have gotten quite elaborate over the years. Locals have their favorite stands and wear patches and colors to promote their stand.  

After the Rally

The fish smoking stations would continue to process fish for the next month until the fish started to migrate again. Then they would be packed up until the following year. Fishing continued through most of the year but the increased capacity was not needed. Biscuit stands would slowly disappear until only a few remained and mostly could be found in the public market.

Etonia Pier

The pier extends a half a mile out from the beach and warehouse district. It is entirely composed of stone. Prior wooden piers would not last through several cycles of the wet season. It ends in a "T" shape that extends another half mile in each direction. Larger ships can moor on the T without issue. During the Rally each stone pilings would have 3 or 4 boats tied to it. The piers would be full of people and ships throughout the summer and fall. During the winter local fisherman would try to continue to fish until the spring solstice, weather permitting.

Last Year's Master of Ceremony

Horace Fernando de Islo

This jolly man from Coral Gate has been coming to the Rally for several years. He is a well known chef that has worked for several nobles around Coral Gate. He usually sets up a biscuit stand and occasionally would do some fishing during the rally. He registered each year but was only the Master of Ceremony last year. He held an outdoor meetup highlighting the street vendors last year in addition to the taverns.

He is holding the sceptor of the Master of the Ceremony. The bulb at the top lights up with a magical command word. It is lit at the beginning of the day of the rally and when it is turned off it signals the end of the rally when all boats must be moored.



Comments

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Journeyman N4th
James Slaven
28 Feb, 2021 12:51

Great work! I can really appreciate the level of detail that went into this article. Are you planning on using it for your D&D campaign?

Sage samsaratg
George Sanders
1 Mar, 2021 05:15

Yeah. The main party was taking out parties of goblin raiders, eventually they found that an amulet was used to allow the raiders to know other humans were allies and convinced one goblin party to not attack but wait for further instructions. It was the same size as our group of players so I had the idea to do a one shot as those goblins. It turned into two sessions interspersed among big story arcs. This will be the third session, the goblins escaped the grip of their tribe/programming and want to be pirates. We left off the last session where they were in the farmlands around Etonia...

Sage samsaratg
George Sanders
1 Mar, 2021 05:17

And thanks for the like and comment!

Journeyman N4th
James Slaven
1 Mar, 2021 12:10

Awesome! That sounds like a blast. I really like the idea of using one-shots to offer a different perspective. I've used it, myself, before to let the players explore the history of my world. It's a great way to shake things up, too.

Sage Serukis
Dr Emily Vair-Turnbull
28 Feb, 2021 20:51

This sounds like both a fun and practical festival. I like that half of each haul is used to help feed the city. The way the biscuits have changed over time is really interesting. :D

Emy x   Welcome to Etrea! Please check out my peculiar plants entry! :)
Sage samsaratg
George Sanders
1 Mar, 2021 05:25

Thanks! Right, it formed out of a necessary part of the original fishing towns survival tactic so still has a bit of the practical purpose. I like the idea of abundance in governing vs scarcity and thinking about how that might happen. Thanks for reading!

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