Etonia Fish and Biscuit Rally
Why a Fish Rally?
Etonia started as a small fishing town. That tradition continued even as the city grew. The city expaneded its focus to exports of stone and silver from the mine, hides and leather from the forest, and surplus from fields when yields are good. In the spring, fish migrate close to the shallows along the coast to spawn. After the spawning season ends, the fishing can commence. In the past, the sudden and important bounty required everyone to spend some time fishing. Now, the season attracts people from far down the coast who want to participate in the event. It can double the city population 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 their any 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, so anyone who 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 and no nets, only fishing rods. Early in the morning, 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 receive prizes from the master of ceremonies. The fishers must bring their haul to the dockmaster to be weighed and measured before the sun sets for a catch to count. All boats must moor by 4 pm to ensure their catch can be counted in time. A fishers can request that they keep half their haul, but the other half is taken for use by the city of Etonia. Fish are a primary food source over the summer until the new harvest from the fields starts.
Master of Ceremonies
This lucky fisher is selected by lottery. When a fisher registers for the rally, a lottery entry is recorded. The Master of Ceremonies is selected a week before the rally. Throughout the week, they host gatherings at each of the taverns. The tavern pays their tab. The schedule of the gatherings is posted around the city and heralded by town criers. On the day of the rally, a ceremony kicks off the event. After a short speech, traditionally 10 minutes or less, a ribbon is cut, and fishers jump into their boats. Then, they race to their preferred fishing locations. The master of ceremonies does not participate in the rally but continues to MC as fishers return later in the day.
About 3 weeks before the Summer Equinox, 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 or tent with a large pot of cooking oil. A fire or magical heat source boils the oil frying dough from leftover winter wheat to make a tasty treat for passers-by. The wheat and dough are not of 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 continue to process fish for a month after the rally until the fish start to migrate again. Then they are packed up until the following year. Fishing continues through most of the year, but the increased capacity of the rally is not needed. Biscuit stands slowly disappear until only a few remain in the Northern Plenty Free Marketplace.
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 top of the T without issue. During the Rally each stone piling could have 3 or 4 boats tied to it. The pier continues to be busy throughout the summer and fall. During the winter local fisherman 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 9 years, nearly the entire history of the festival. 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 every year but was only the Master of Ceremony last year. During his term, he held an outdoor meetup highlighting the street vendors in addition to the tavern tour. He completed a book of biscuit recipes and it quickly became a best seller. Not all biscuits stands would part with their receipe but he made up several of his own to generously fill the pages.
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.