Today’s festival, whilst being considered a venerable Buentoilliçan custom, is technically not conducted in Buentoille, but in Droptown, a small section of Sleade Yard on the banks of the Moway where most of the raw materials for the district’s pottery industry is unloaded from the quarrying operations upstream. Today, however, the boats and porters will have to dock elsewhere, taking the long way around via another district.
To all intents and purposes, Droptown is simply a section of a district of Buentoille, and shows as such on any given map you care to produce, save perhaps those which are hung in pride of place in the Droptown Hall, a large wooden construction alike in appearance to an upturned boat. On the Droptown map, Droptown is marked in separate colour; pink instead of the orange of Buentoille. Next to the map, in a glass cabinet, is the Droptown Certificate of Independence, which was signed by the then mayor, Dermovytch Asaan in 1666. The space for ratification was never signed by the monarch of Buentoille, because this would have effectively meant that the Droptowners were exempt from paying tax, and could make its own laws.
Droptown is one of the many small communities which was swallowed up by the rapid expansion of Buentoille, and whilst many of these places became culturally subsumed as well, Droptown maintains some level of separation. Droptowners are, for example, very fond of boating, and each member of the community is taught how to build their own craft as part of becoming an adult. They go out in these boats at least once a week, and much more frequently when the weather is good. This is possibly spawned from the fact there is no bridge across the Moway for a few miles, so Droptowners have always operated their own ferry services, though many have argued that it is the other way around; the ferry services obviated the need for a bridge.
The Hall is also listed as the official residence of the Mayor of Droptown, a now mostly ceremonial position, though it does retain certain rights and responsibilities. One such privilege is the final say over whether outsiders can marry into a Droptown family, although nowadays it would be technically illegal for the Mayor to attempt to stop the marriage, so they instead act as an announcer of new engagements. Besides these occasions, the most important responsibility held by the Mayor is the organisation of the Enclosure Ceremony which happens on this day each year.
This organisation begins long before the festival itself, when the barriers are inspected and ordered to be rebuilt if necessary. Woodworking is a skill honed by almost all the community, and custom pieces of fencing are made to measure, then affixed today onto special blocks that protrude from the Droptown houses, forming a perimeter that differentiates the town from the City. Most of these are actually put in place yesterday, as are the blockade of boats by the harbour, those coming-of-age boats built by each resident, laid end-to-end (not side-by-side as this indicates that the boat owners, differentiated by their woodworking style and family carvings on the prow, are married) and attached by ropes so no craft may pass. At the strike of midnight last night, or this morning, depending on how you look at it, the final fence piece and boat are put into place, and will remain so for a full day, until midnight strikes once again.
For Droptowners, being outside the fences today is a cardinal sin, tantamount to giving up citizenship, of becoming a mere Buentoillitant. This is not to say that it has never happened; the play Mattenda and Hillea is about two lovers, one a Droptowner one a Buentoillitant, who are forbidden their marriage by the Mayor. When she hears that Hillea has been hurt, Mattenda scrambles over the fences to be with her, surrendering her citizenship. The play is thought to have been based on various real-life, similar instances.
This geographic determination of citizenship is not merely a petty symbolism on this day, but a matter with legal weight. The reason the barriers go up today is because in order to retain its recognised position as a ‘culturally distinct geographical zone’ of Buentoille (rather than a ‘culturally distinct community’, which carries less legal weight), no Droptowners must enter or exit Droptown for a full day, and no others can enter. Therefore, those who leave or are trapped outside the town must surrender their citizenship, and anyone who contrives to enter are granted citizenship. The upshot of all this is that Buentoille as a City cannot impose construction of any sort in Droptown without the consent of the residents, but this isn’t really the point; the point is pride, and that most Buentoilliçan of values: tradition.
Other festivals happening today:
- Quebmaner Stawn’s Day of Discount Elixirs
- The Graphic Festival
- The Injunction of Amrinte Festival