HAYS, KS -- Sixteenth century England will come to life at Fort Hays State University for the 37th year during the annual Madrigal Dinner Dec. 1-2. Festivities will take place at 6:15 p.m. each evening in the Fort Hays Ballroom of the Memorial Union.
Brenda Meder, director of the Hays Arts Council, will preside as Lady of the Manor for the second straight year. Dr. Robert Luehrs, professor of history, will serve as Lord High Chamberlain, master of ceremonies for the ninth consecutive year.
A maximum of 264 guests each evening will be treated to a three-hour event celebrating food, music, wardrobe and atmosphere dating back more than 500 years.
"Guests can expect pageantry, humor, fantasy, theater, great music and a fantastic multi-course dinner, in short all of the ingredients for a very enjoyable evening that truly puts people in the mood for Christmastime," Luehrs said.
Serving as a traditional opening for the Yuletide Season, the Madrigal Dinner celebration features a multi-course meal. The meal includes wassail, fruit and cheese, soup, beef and Yorkshire pudding, fowl, a vegetable and dessert. Period music for the evening will be provided by the Fort Hays Singers under the direction of Dr. Rager Moore II, assistant professor of music.
Classical seasonal music is featured during a concert which takes place during the presentation of the dessert. All court members, singers, performers, pages and servers will dress in period costume. Guests are not required to dress in costume, but may if they wish to do so, according to Luehrs.
Period decorations will be in place to set the mood for the dinner. More than 100 persons will be involved in the enactment of the Madrigal Dinner. Festivities include the recognition of honored guests. Honored guests are selected for campus and/or community service and are selected by the Madrigal committee. Each year at least two and no more than four persons are recognized as the honored guests on each of the two nights.
Friday, Mike and Donna Cooper and Don and Sharon Barton will be honored. Mike Cooper is a recognized local radio personality who is active in community service while his wife Donna is an accomplished science teacher at Hays High School. Don and Sharon Barton have both been active in the university community partly as instructors. Sharon was the recipient of the Pilot Award for outstanding academic advising in 1990.
Saturday, Drs. Robert and Ruth Firestone and Rick and Gail Kuehl will be the honored guests. The Firestones are both active in the university community. Ruth is the chair of the Department of Modern Languages and is the 2000-2001 president's scholar. The Kuehls are the owners of McDonald's of Hays, Russell and WaKeeney and are strong supporters of the Sternberg Museum of Natural History.
On the evening they are honored, these guests will be seated at the head table with the Lady of the Manor but not costumed.
Invitations were sent late last week to all former ticket buyers. Those not receiving invitations can request an order form by calling (785) 628-5305. All tickets will be sold by mail order only. Orders should not be sent before Nov. 1 as the Madrigal committee will not accept orders postmarked before that date. Tickets are $19 per person with a reduced price of $16 for FHSU students.
As one of the oldest traditions at FHSU, many guests attend regularly because of the atmosphere created during the dinner.
"It is a very traditional evening, We try to keep it fresh and interesting every year." said Steve Wood, director of the Memorial Union. Wood is part of the Madrigal committee and is in charge of much of the preparation work and post-event work for the Madrigal Dinner.
In-depth preparations for the weekend began in September by the Madrigal committee, but some plans began in early spring. This year, a new mounted peacock was purchased so the order had to be made in late spring to assure the item would be ready in time.
Set-up for the dinner takes more than a week with the construction of the stage, placement of decorations and set-up of tables.