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Banquet Night

Number of People: 4
Budget: $0

You are responsible for one of the most detailed jobs on the island. You organize, with your own staff, the final meal on Friday night and all the accompanying embellishments. A well organized Banquet Night, running smoothly and effectively, not weighted down with lengthy speeches or long lists of awards, can be a positive and memorable ending to the week. All must roll as though rehearsed but appear casual. It is helpful to be experienced with some facet of Banquet Night from past years. This is not a job for a novice. You can't do much before you get to the island.

Wow, that was a really intimidating intro.  I don't think our experience in 2017 reflected quite such an exalted mission statement, but maybe that's just me.  Here are the bullet points:

  • Select MC(s).  We were two and we did it ourselves.  You could delegate.  This should be done before the conference.
  • Get state counts from the registrar.  These always change by the time banquet night rolls around, so get them at some point early in the week when you won't make the registrar crazy.
  • Coordinate with the Hostess.  This is the key to a successful evening.  Meet with them on Tuesday or Wednesday.  They may have a lengthy form to fill out; if so, previous history indicates that it's worth paying attention to.  You may also have some menu choices to make.
  • Starting in 2012 people have been signing up for tables (rationale below).  On Wednesday, put these out on the writing desk and announce at mealtimes that people should be signing up. On Thursday, with an assistant, go down the conference list and see who's not yet signed up.  This is slightly tedious, but with two people, it's not too bad.  Track down the (mostly new shoalers) who haven't figured this out yet.
    • Here's a diagram of the dining hall as it was in 2017.  Save a copy to your own Google account and edit as necessary.  https://drive.google.com/open?id=1JFtva7F-JiD1otvP3rfbiCg8a-CQVQ07iUczLqgVNio
    • Here's a sign-up list of 32 tables (eight to a page).  This prints right if you 1) DON'T "Show gridlines" and 2) Change margins to 0.25 (1/4) inch.  Save a copy to your own Google account and edit as necessary. https://drive.google.com/open?id=1FJerdcpbf880M8Y5ScWUMjWZfqNcvjj1Vnl57Bv--Mc 
    • In 2017 the Hostess said that up to 12 people per table was OK.  This helps keep families and affinity groups together.  Make a note on the sign-up sheet if this is true for your year as well.
    • Encourage people to decorate their tables
    • Confirm with the chairs who they want at the (usually two) head tables.  Typically the chairs, speaker(s), minister(s), MC(s), and family members.  Fill them in on the sign-up sheets so they know where they're sitting.
  • Determine what events you want to have as part of your banquet night.  In 2017 we went minimal with:
    • Clap IN the waitrae
    • Blessing
    • Singing "Gosport Harbor" - There are those who love this (it makes us cry) and those who hate it.  We were fortunate to have David Cryer to lead our singing.  It's important that it stay up-tempo.  It also gives the staff time to cue up dinner.
    • (dinner)
    • Clap out the staff WHEN CUED BY THE HOSTESS
    • Roll Calls (States, Years, Ex-Chairs, Pelicans, Corp members, been to another conference on Star)
    • Recognitions (Children's staff, Speaker, Current chairs who announce new chairs)
    • Announcements
    • Children's grand march (someone else's responsibility)
    • (Other possibilities, discarded per the rationales below, include New Shoaler speech, Old Shoaler speech, Speaker reflection, additional songs from the Gosport Songbook)
  • Prepare the program.  The 2017 version is at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1-FW4eOOhGx1_a-iMfkhMLdDm-w9bkN08QgHIh9abtfU  As of 2017, conference services does not do duplication.  Print the appropriate number of copies at the business center (we did 175) and remember to ask the treasurer to add 10 cents a copy to our annual fund donation to cover cost of printing.
  • Put the programs on the tables.
  • Have fun.  We found people straggled in, especially our head table folks, which delayed the start.  Don't know what clever thing you can do about that though.
Background from previous years:

At some point in the past, the banquet adjourned after the Clap Outs and the Childrens' Grand March and after a lengthy time-out, reconvened in Elliott for speeches by new shoalers, old shoalers, the speaker, and the old and new chairs. However, when it is done this way, parents with young children never were able to participate due to bedtime duties. The last several years have changed format so everyone stays to the end, which is the Childrens' Grand March. This accomplishes several objectives, mainly, it eliminates the speeches and keeps it short, since children get fidgety. Starting in the year 2000, Tournament winners and Polar Bears were announced at lunch, so don't worry about these. If held, the Quadrathalon winners have to be announced during the banquet (because of the timing of the event), with applause held until the end, and awards given out later.

The format of ending the banquet with the Childrens' Grand March is excellent, as it seems to be something that all children like to do, including the teens.

Fill out a form with the Dining Room Host(ess) at least two days before Banquet Night. It may seem lengthy, but it is necessary for a smooth and resentment-free evening. Communication is the name of the game.

New from 2012: banquet night seating advance sign up! A 'map' of the dining room tables was put on the writing desk (each 'table' box had 10 lines for the number of seats available). People were asked to write on each table who was going to sit there. This eliminated a lot of confusion with seating. Families were able to decorate the table they were sitting at (there was an option to indicate if you were going to decorate; if not, a small arrangement of flowers was put on the table). The head table is reserved for the chairs, MC, speaker, banquet organizers, etc. All or part of an adjacent table may be reserved for additional people, such as relatives, MC and partner, family, etc. Those names should be entered on the seating charts before they put on the writing desk. This procedure should be carefully explained by announcement and contact resources should be named by Tuesday dinner to give people time to organize their tables. Remind on Wednesday and Thursday at meals by announcement also.

Relevant information from Bonnie Smith's notes in 1995 read:

  1. Confirm order of Clap-ins with Dining Room Host/ess. Clapping out of the kitchen staff can be compressed a bit. We would like to see the following groups: kitchen staff (dishies and buttercutters), bakers, cooks, waitrae, and host(ess). Be sure the host(ess) has the list beforehand so they know who to send out (they can never hear back there).
  2. Select a Master/Mistress of Ceremonies (MC). The chairs can also do this or you can. A good voice and ability to use a microphone are a must. The MC plans an introduction to the banquet, introduces the minister of the week if s/he is to do a blessing, and leads the roll calls, usually by number of years at Star (New, less than 5 years, 5 to 10 years, 10 to 20 years, 20+), state by state, former Pels, Past Chairs etc. MC also introduces the Chairs, Speaker(s), etc. The Chairs should give you a listing for the states and number of conferees from each state so you can make sure to announce people correctly.
  3. Candles have not been used since 2000. Starting in 2003, Lisa Jennings provided flowers for table decorations.
  4. Arrange for the Head Table. Ask the Chairs to choose and invite about 10 people to sit at the head table. They should include the Chairs, speaker and spouse, minister of the week and spouse, banquet organizer etc. Note above for possibility of overflow and place all these names on sign up sheets before they are put out for all to sign.
  5. Arrange for the music. Plan to have singing of a shoals song somewhere between courses but if it is very hot, as it was in 1995, be ready to skip the singing! Since1999, the only song that has been sung is the Fred McGill song ("Gosport Harbor"). Check with the All Star II Music Director or island music director if we do not have our own staff person about piano accompaniment to songs and Grand Marches and if help is needed in selecting songs. Check in with leaders of Childrens' Grand March about how that part of the program will proceed.
  6. Make and print a program. Have someone with artistic skill do the program. Have it ready to give to Conference Services for copying by Wednesday. Make sure the original is 8 1/2 by 11, not legal size. (copies can be secured via the lobby store and charged to All Star II)
  7. Prepare a report. When the evening is over, fill out a report, how it worked, suggestions for next year and any other information that might help the staff next year. Now you may enjoy the Friday night party at Newton with the satisfaction of a big job well done!
Here is a schedule for what you have to do on Friday:
  • Afternoon
    • Distribute songbooks or song sheet and program sheets Distribute place cards for the head table
  • 6:30 p.m. (based on 1999 banquet night)
    • Clap IN the Waitrae (double check with Hostess when this is to be done, as sometimes it seems like the waitrae are not expecting it to be done when it is done). Banquet begins with grace, usually done by the minister of the week [SHORT] Welcome by MC Dinner Clap OUT the waitrae, kitchen staff (talk to hostess for order, see above) Announcements of Quadrathalon awards (if held) Roll calls by State, Years' attendance, former chairs, former pelicans Gosport Harbor Song Introduce the New Chairs
  • 7:30 p.m.
    • Announce where and when children's farewell parties will be held Announce the start of the Children's Grand March
HAVE FUN!