The 128th Old Folks Sociable

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It a HUGE weekend in my little community, the weekend of the Grantsville Old Folks Sociable, a community tradition that has continued for 128 years…and, no, that is not a typo!  When we moved here 10 years ago, we had no idea what the sociable was or what it entailed.  We learned quickly and we have loved and participated in it every year since.  It is one of the best things about living here.

So what exactly is involved in creating an event like this for a community of 10,000?  Here are a few of the details…

Each March, our entire community comes together to put on an event that takes a year to plan and prepare for, and a week to enjoy.  Community members are asked to volunteer time and talents to put together an amazing day that includes a car show, a reception for all community members 75 and older, and a twice-performed program and twice-served dinner.  There are also dances, displays, and activities throughout the night.  To ensure that the community children are also involved (the Old Folks Sociable is only for people 18+), there is a Children’s Sociable held the Thursday before, that showcases some of the best talent in the city. 

This will be our 10th Sociable and we have been involved in one way or another every year.  Joe and I have been on committees for the Children’s Sociable, the 5k, and Decorations.  Our girls have all performed many times in the Children’s Sociable, and as teenagers they have all helped serve dinner.  I have displayed quilts, Joe has drawn up legal documents, and we have all sat through several performances every year. 

Sometimes I think it is a bit over the top, but every year I am amazed at the talent and time that goes into this event.  Last year I helped a bit on the decorating committee, and we hung chandeliers in the high school hallway, where the event is held.  Add to that custom-made furniture, greenery, and hundred or yards of fabric, ribbon, and art.  Decorating starts as soon as school ends on Friday, and sometimes goes until 4 a.m.  Then the undecorating starts around 11 p.m. on Saturday, and ends when the last decoration has been put away.  In order to ensure that there isn’t a lot of waste, many of the decorations are sold after to help recoup costs. 

So far we have managed to avoid the food committee, but I think that it must be one of the most stressful assignments of the Sociable.  You are in the kitchen for almost 2 entire days and there are hundreds of people fed at by a serving crew of 13-14 year olds.  The kids really do an amazing job and they dress nicely and are very attentive to their assigned tables.

Then, there is the program…it showcases some of the best adult talent in the city.  The first year Joe and I went, we were blown away by some of the numbers.  We had been sharing carpool duty and sitting in the school bleachers and going to church with some of the most talented people we have ever known.  One of my favorite parts, the program begins with a prayer (shocking) and a salute to the military. 

This year our involvement has not been huge, but I’m leaving soon to help with the decorating (assisting a friend), and Riley performed in the Children’s Sociable last night.  I’m also working on convincing Joe (an annual tradition) that we need to go to the Old Folks Sociable tomorrow.

At the end of the Old Folks Sociable program, the male and female co-chairs of the sociable announce their choices of co-chairs for the following year.  It is always exciting to see who they have chosen as it sets the tone for the entire event the next year.  There is also a list posted of community members and their assignments for the following year.  It is always a bit scary to see if you are on the list…and what committee you have been assigned. 

The best part of the Sociable?  Watching a community come together to pay honor to those who have helped shape and form the town that we live in…uncovering amazing talents…making new friends…and having an excuse to buy some new shoes.

*If you are interested, here is some information on this year’s Old Folks Sociable, and here is a link to images from last year’s Sociable Program.  My daughter, Riley, is on the far right sitting on a girl’s shoulders.

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