May 2022 1st Annual Victorian Tea

Best Costume award went to Joyce Loss (2nd from left, in pink.) Eleven other ladies received honorable mention. Image, Gia Pirelli.

Museum of the Mountain Wests hosts Victorian Tea
— a special collaborative community fundraiser

By Kathryn Burke

At a time when the news is filled with too much sadness, horror, and violence, when women’s rights are in question, and so many seem have lost a sense of the past which made this nation strong and respected…the Museum of the Mountain West (MMW) led 80 ladies back in time to when graciousness prevailed and mutual support was a foundation of our society.

Saturday, May 14th, MMW presented its 1st Annual Victorian Tea. A lovely event, with tables and guests dressed for the occasion, the afternoon was reminiscent of the spirit of ladies’ teas of the Victorian era, when pouring tea was an art and gathering for tea and companionship was a special social occasion.

Under the direction of event chair, and MMW Assistant Executive Director Kathryn Burke, the tea, a fundraiser for the museum, was a highly collaborative event. Guests came from Ouray, Ridgway, Montrose, and Delta. Many represented local organizations including Montrose Botanical Gardens, Montrose Women’s Club, Red Had Ladies, Montrose Library, Time Bank of the Rockies, the Museum, and Heirlooms for Hospice (which provided the door prize and prizes for Best Costume and Best Table. Tea was served by members of the Ouray County Woman’s Club, which will be partnering with the Museum in the fall for their own event to be held at the Wright Opera House in Ouray.

Delicious tea food was provided by event hosts Cheryl Gardner and Lorraine Shide (both on the tea committee), Gia Pirelli, and Kate Burke (event chair). Denise Short, Teas2Please provided four hand-crafted teas. Kimah and Eagle (Ridgway) entertained with flute, piano, and guitar, and Carolyn Bellavante (MMW Board officer) shared an informative Tea Talk.

The event was a fundraiser to help provide matching funds for the museum’s new façade constructed in part from an award by the City of Montrose and DART, and to help fund the museum’s expanded giftshop and gallery,

The event sponsor was Barbara Rairden, whose generous donation covered all event expenses.

Local businesses supporting the museum with donations for the event’s silent auction, which earned over $1,000, were Camelot Gardens, Cheryl Gardner Designs, Chow Down Pet Supplies, Gia Pirelli Studio, Green Valley Herbal, Luxe Designs Lifestyle Boutique, LaNoue DuBois Winery, Magic Circle Players,  SheShe boutique, The Stone House, Westslope TinTypes, all of Montrose, as well as Colorado West Scenic Tours (Ouray), and Susan Humphrey Fine Arts and Tara’s Boutique both, Delta).

Special guests at the head table co-hosted by Kate Burke, event chair, and Gia Pirelli, her daughter, included: Kathy LaNoue and Virginia Blackstock. LaDoue DuBois Winery is partnering with the museum to provide wine for artist openings for Susan Humphrey (July), Cheri Isgreen (August), and the art reception in September for Plein Air on the Old Spanish Trail. Renowned artist, Virginia Blackstock will be judging the Spanish Trail plein air show. Also seated at the head table were museum volunteers Janet Reyer and Diane Moody, who assisted with the vote counts for best table and costume, and with Alice Leeper from WCOC, and tallied the winning bids for the silent auction.

Three guests were having birthdays. Guests joined Kimah and Eagle in celebrating with Molly Shaver, Lorraine Shide, and Virginia Blackstock.

In addition to the head table, co-hosted by Kate Burke and Gia Pirelli, eight additional elegant tables were hosted by Carol Fike, Carolyn Bellevance, Cheryl Gardner, Lorraine Shide, MaryJo Lavengagen, Alice Billings, Ken Valdez, and  Joyce Baker and Michelle Prentice-Leslie. Guests award “Best Table” went to to Cheryl Gardner. All guests were beautifully dressed. “Best Costume’ went to Joyce Loss, with Kate Burke Honorable Mention, and a solid lineup of additional best-dressed guests. Cheryl Gardner drew for the door prize, and after teasing the audience she would draw her own name… she did! Winners received a gift basket from Heirlooms for Hospice.

Bidding for the auction was steady, with guests getting up from their tables to outbid one another (and the public bids which had been coming in over the previous few days). The big winner of the day was Kathy LaNoue from LaNoue DuBouis winery, who took home a handful of certificates. “I just love shopping!” she said. Kathy won a discount coupon from Gia Pirelli Studio, who outbid others to win the LaNoue DuBois Wine basket. Gathering the most bids were the Stone House an SheShe Boutique.

Everyone had a wonderful time, and many have already signed up for next year. The event earned $4,000 for the museum’s capital campaign fund.

Event Chair, and Asst. Exec.Director, Kate Burke, greets guests and starts the tea. Image, Gia Pirelli.

Lorraine Shide (left, in red) and Cheryl Gardner (right, in navy) prepared most of the lovely tea food. Also contributing were Kate Burke and Pirelli, as well as the LightHouse Eatery. Image, Gia Pirelli.

In time-honored Victorian tradition, mothers and daughters attended together. Pictured here, with Cheryl Gardner (left) are Tiffany Curtain and her 14-year old daughter, Madison. Image, Gia Pirelli.

Musicians Kimah and Eagle entertained with flute, piano, and guitar. Image, Gia Prelli.