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Shafer Gallery to host elegant afternoon tea
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The Shafer Gallery at Barton Community College will be the site of an “elegant, afternoon high-tea fundraiser” reminiscent of 1800s England.
Participants are invited to “break out your fanciest cup and saucer and your most dapper and debonair hat and attire and join your fellow ladies and gents ... promptly at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, July 22 in the Shafer Gallery,” sponsors said.
Admission is $20 per person and is limited to the first 80 reservations. The RSVP deadline is July 13. Guests are encouraged to bring their favorite cup and saucer and to dress in formal attire and wear a hat. All proceeds will go to benefit the Shafer Gallery.
Inspired by the gracious living of high society of Great Britain in the 1800s, the event will include music, traditional high tea refreshments and a brief talk by Onalea Crile, owner of Red Letter Bakery in Wichita, concerning the history of high tea.
An avid tea drinker and enthusiast with a vast knowledge of varieties and cultivation processes, Crile opened a tearoom in 2006 and has been hosting afternoon teas ever since.
“Once I purchased tearoom, I wanted to become well-versed in the etiquette of teas and the customs and traditions that went along with the presentation side of afternoon teas,” she said.
Crile has since closed the tearoom but continues to specialize in hosting exquisite tea parties in addition to catering for other events.
The traditional elegant afternoon tea originated in the 1800s with Duchess of Bedford Anna Russell. Her staff began pampering her with a mid-afternoon, luxurious snack served with tea due to her tendency to malnourish herself. They consisted of a great amount of attention being paid to her as well as delicate and exquisite pastries, meat pies and fruits.
Crile said the duchess wanted to convey this same level of coddling to those that were close to her, so she began inviting fellow dignitaries to share in the experience.
“The afternoon tea is meant for two purposes and those are to promote fellowship and to convey to the guests that, ‘We love you, we care about you and you are special to us, and we want to do this for you to show how much we appreciate you,’” she said.  “Those are two elements that have been very well preserved in afternoon teas and they can be expected at the tea in the Shafer Gallery as well.”
Gallery Director Dave Barnes said the gallery is the perfect place to host an event like this.
“The gallery’s current exhibits’ theme is history as nostalgia and tradition, and that theme was wonderfully personified in the tradition of the high tea,” he said. “So it’s a beautiful match to pair a traditional high tea with the fine handwriting and the murals that are in the gallery right now.”