There will also be newer artisans displaying. You do NOT have to be a Laurel to display. You do not need to be a master at your craft. You need to have a love of what you do, have a piece you want to share, and hopefully get feedback on, and have the guts to put it out there. That is it.
My first experience with the display was in 2012. I had never, ever displayed before at that point (despite having been in and around the SCA for 20 years). I was not new to sewing, and was not new to documentation or teaching. I had only done one small competition in my Shire. All I had to show that first year was a hand sewn aprondress, which is quite possibly the simplest garment one could make.
Further, that garment (and its documentation) had (still has, lol) some flaws. But I was very proud of my sewing and I opted to put it out there.
The entire experience was fabulous. I made friends with those who had displays near mine. I met SO many people. I had fantastic conversations with several people about not only the dress I was showing, but the one that I was wearing at that time (which was the first Viking garment to which I had added silk trim). I spoke to Laurels from my Kingdom and I can say that those women were so very nice that if I ever even thought of having "Peer fear" that the very notion would have diminished on the spot. Mistress Rhiannon y Bwa even took pictures of my documentation to read later. I was completely flattered that she actually wanted to read it. Mistress Hrefna gave me her email address and I contacted her later and she gave me leads on some additional research (even mailed me a copy of an item I had not been able to source on my own). I somehow even ended up talking excitedly to Mistress Tseevia (I am sure I botched the spelling there) about linen mangling and it was suggested to me that that might make a good article for an AEstel AExtra (and while it never made it there, it did end up happening eventually and did end up an article on my blog and a winning competition entry). That was all at my very first display! I also came home with a handful of little trinkets and beads and favors that people leave as tokens when they like something. I did not even know that was a thing, but even today I look at my little bling box and am touched at all of the favors people gifted me with over the years.
I said there are things wrong with that dress, and I will also say that no one pointed them out as being glaring mistakes. It simply did not matter. People shared my geek and I walked around and shared theirs. I got advice, and compliments, and ideas on new directions.
I have gone to classes and demos run by people I met at displays, simply because I got a taste of their art and wanted more. Most importantly, it started me on building a network of other artisans with whom I can share ideas, share research, or refer others too if they come to me with questions on something out of my field.
I cannot encourage people enough to not only attend the display, but to engage with the artisans. You never know what you will learn or who you can help. Gasp in awe at the master works, but also take time to encourage the novices (as it takes far more courage for them to lay it out there than a more seasoned artisan).
And if you want to display at some point, start putting those ideas together now. If you want help making it happen, I will try to aid you or find someone who can. It really is an encouraging, incredible experience and it was, honestly, game changing for me.
THIS what A&S is the SCA is REALLY about.
Hope to see y'all at the display this year!