MARSHALL - Displays of creativity were plentiful at the 14th annual Table Setting Extravaganza on Saturday at the Ramada Inn in Marshall.
The Avera Marshall Foundation hosted the event for 12 straight years, but decided it was time to pass the torch. After a joint sponsorship between Avera Marshall and Prairie Home Hospice last year, this year marked the first that Prairie Home Hospice hosted the Table Setting by itself.
"We didn't know how it would go, but I think it went really well," said organizer Jessica Wiering, Prairie Home Hospice development coordinator. "We had a lot of diverse tables and we had a lot of people who said they were going to do a table setting next year and to put them on the list. So they must have gotten some ideas while being here."
Photo by Jenny Kirk
Melissa Bromen, left, and Gloria Sabin look over a table setting designed by Mari Jo Babcock and Carol Louwagie called “Run for the Roses” while attending the 14th annual Table Setting Extravaganza on Saturday.
Guest Gloria Sabin and Melissa Bromen said they both attend the event every year.
"I'm excited to see what Judy (Timmerman) has here. She displays every year. This year, there are three tables from the Timmerman family, from Judy, her daughter and her granddaughter. There are so many good ideas."
Bromen mentioned that she may decide to do her own table setting next year.
"We'll see," Bromen said. "It's the highlight of the season. It gets us in the mood for the holidays and for formal dinners."
Ruth Larson, a Table Setting planning committee member, thinks the best part of the event is the opportunity to help inspire people.
"Table setting is almost a lost art," she said. "Young people don't seem to enjoy formal dinners as much as people our age. Hopefully, an event like this helps reengage people about entertaining with style."
As one of seven committee members, Larson took part in the annual white plate challenge, where participants have to assemble a unique table setting using the white dishes they are supplied with.
"Having white, you can dress it up or dress it down," she said. "Everything goes with white. I think I might do clowns next year."
Committee member Kathy Lozinski, the 2011 challenge winner, also had a small table display.
"People can vote on which white plate display they like the best," Lozinski said. "The winner gets bragging power for a year."
This year, Larson won with her display called "Dinner with Leonard (Bernstein)," an elegant setting that intertwined music with shades of gold, white and black.
"I came up with the idea when I was cleaning out my sewing room," Larson said. "It's fun to carry through after you thought about it."
Along with sister-in-laws Polle Mellenthin Hauge and organizer Pat Mellenthin, executive director of Prairie Home Hospice, Jane Mellenthin created a table setting using Franciscan Ivy pattern china in memory of Elaine Mellenthin, who died in February.
"This was a wedding gift to Harold and Elaine in 1950," Jane Mellenthin said. "It was a gift from Harold's aunt. Pat is going to take on the tradition of displaying them from now on."
While the Mellenthins plan to continue the tradition handed down before them, so does Lozinski, whose daughter, Teri Fennell, and granddaughter Chloe Fennell attended for the first time. Two-year-old Chloe was enamored with the children's table setting called "A Treasure from By-Gone Days" that was created by Lorraine Wade and Karen Murphy.
"You can't touch it with your hands," Lozinski said to Fennell. "You can only look. You can only touch it with your eyes."
Incredibly, Fennell seemed to understand and was extra gentle as she continued to inspect the display.
"For years, I did daycare, probably for half of Lyon County," Lozinski said. "Now having grandchildren, it makes my heart smile again."
Mari Jo Babcock designed one large table setting and one for the white plate challenge since she's also a member of the planning committee. In her "Get Along Little Doggie" setting, Babcock used her little red cowgirl hat that she wore from 50 years ago. The full table setting ("Run for the Roses) was inspired by her neighbor Carol Louwagie, Babcock said, for her love of horses and as a tribute to the Kentucky Derby.
"We used her leather horses and did the horse one together," Babcock said. "We used many generations of stuff."
Babcock, who first started displaying table settings five years ago, successfully encouraged her mother, Muriel Schmidt, to do her own a few years back.
"I thought back to my childhood, and I remembered all the threshing days," Schmidt said. "My grandmother and my mother had to prepare a feast for all the workers. Then they laid everything out on a table cloth. So I did a red and white checked display using my grandma's silverware."
Schmidt said she is glad she was able to retain the Brazil silverware for all these years, pointing out that fortunately, stuff piled up more back then because people didn't move around as much.
Wiering said that the first-year move for the event, from the Marshall Golf Club to the Ramada Inn, seemed to fit the needs of the fundraiser really well. Along with a change in the wine tasting event, which was Friday evening this year for the first time, this year also marked the first time the table settings, silent auction items and Avera Marshall Auxillary Gift Shop items were close together.
"We moved out here to try and find a space where we could have a lot of the things in the same room," Wiering said. "We tried to keep it a little more cohesive and together. This room worked really well for that, to have it all in there."
Overall, Wiering said she was pleased with the turnout, including all of the silent auction donations, all of which benefits Prairie Home Hospice patients and their families.