A glance into the work it takes to plan and prepare for banquet
Culture | Linnea White
The thursday night setup for the homecoming banquet takes seven hours. | Erin Gallagher
For most of us, the homecoming banquet lasted for a few hours on Friday evening. The 11 members of the Student Activities Banquets and Dances committee began thinking about and planning for the homecoming banquet before classes were out last spring.
Brianna Hershey, the director of the committee, provided insight into the process of preparing for the banquet. She said that all members of Student Activities, which includes Banquets and Dances, arrive on campus a week early for bonding and planning. They must make a final decision about the theme of the homecoming banquet by the first week of school. This is necessary in order to have time to plan and order food and decorations, she said.
This year Hershey and her committee worked especially hard. Although they have weekly meetings, “we’ve actually had to meet twice to three times a week, figuring out themes and getting everything together, just because this is a bigger event than it has been in the past. We want to wow the student body.”
Wowing the student body means raising the standard. In the past homecoming banquets have had more casual themes such as beach or safari. This year, Banquets and Dances rolled out the red carpet with a Hollywood theme. They ordered draping for the SRC, a decoration normally reserved for the spring banquet.
Another big task is choosing props for photo ops. These props must be made by the committee or ordered online. This year they ordered a large Hollywood sign and made cutouts themselves.
Hershey and her team work through Sodexo to prepare and serve the food. This year they approached Sodexo manager Bob Schuchardt with a menu item in mind: chicken parmesan. According to Hershey, planning the food is a fun and collaborative process. "Schuchardt loves banquet just as much as we do, which is awesome because he’s always calling me with new ideas,” she said. “He contributes a lot to it, which is cool.”
The Thursday night before the banquet is the big set-up time. Hershey and her committee spend the entire evening, from 4:30 until 11:30, in the SRC. Each year, the football team helps set up tables and chairs. It takes the team about 15 minutes to do the job. At 9:30 p.m. the rest of Student Activities arrives to finish setting up.
After an evening of food, photos and, of course, the announcement of the Royal Cup winner, many students start leaving, but Hershey and her team still have work to do. Because the drapes come down Saturday morning and the gym will be used for the football game in the afternoon, most of the cleanup happens Friday night. This year, Hershey said, many students who are not part of Student Activities stayed to help, making the job easier. The only thing left for Hershey and her team to do is relax and celebrate a job well done.