First annual Mayor's Gala planned to raise funds for Larson Park

Jessica Stölen-Jacobson
Montevideo American-News

This November, Montevideo Mayor Erich Winter, and his wife Jayme, are hosting a new annual event in conjunction with the Montevideo Chamber of Commerce. The Mayor’s Gala will be held November 20th at the VFW Post #380 with the theme “Winter Wonderland”. “We were looking at a way to fundraise for something in the community that may need some attention that isn’t usually funded by taxes and other governmental funds,” says Mayor Winter. “After talking to Robert [Wolfington] at the City and Aaron [Blom] at the Public Works, they identified a few things in the community that definitely could use a jump start on funds.” The Winters decided that the inaugural event would benefit the revitalization of Larson Park. 

Invitations are out around the community for the first annual Mayor's Gala.

The event will be a chance for those in the community who attend to dress in formal wear, though it is not required. “I thought we should do something fancy like dress up because how many times do you get to dress up unless it’s your wedding or you’re in someone’s wedding. There aren’t opportunities out here for that kind of thing, so I thought let’s get the community together to do something kind of fun and fancy,” says Jayme. 

From there, the couple began reaching out to volunteers and pinning down plans for what they wanted to include in the evening’s event. “We wanted to keep everything as local as possible,” says Jayme. “When things weren’t available locally, we went just a little bit further away. The furthest is probably Trish’s Catering out of Clara City.” They have also been working with area businesses such as Flowers from the Heart to help provide opportunities for those who attend. “I did not realize that all of the formal dresses at Flowers from the Heart are twenty-five dollars,” says Jayme. “I went down there and in my size, she had six dresses. For tuxes, she said she’d give people a reasonable deal on black tuxes because it’s off-season and she wanted to support the event.” Erich adds that the event is as formal as those attending are comfortable with. Lori Thostenson and Robert Wolfington have been helping to plan the event, which will be pulled off with the help of a number of volunteers helping to decorate and handle other such tasks.

Individual tickets can be purchased at Montevideo Millennium Theater or Flowers from the Heart, and there is also the opportunity for businesses and organizations to purchase VIP tables for up to eight people. “It’s a good opportunity to network with other business owners and organizations, and that’s why we wanted to offer VIP sponsorship,” says Erich. “They don’t have to necessarily have it be for employees. They can sponsor a table and invite others. Our business doesn’t have enough adult employees so we’re inviting people who aren’t employees to our table.”

The VFW will be transformed into the Winter Wonderland theme, which is not just a play on words with the couple’s last name, but in homage to the fact that the fundraising recipient, Larson Park, is where the winter activities in the community happen. “We plan to do this next year and we’ll pick a different theme. It might be masquerade. It might be casino,” says Erich. 

A meal will be served along with a free drink ticket, that will be plated and delivered to tables by the Montevideo Marching Band. The couple plans a donation back to the Marching Band for their assistance. There will also be a popcorn bar, a wine and liquor pull, door prizes, and favors for guests when they leave. Musical entertainment will be provided by Tom Hipps, with a folky, classic sound. The couple is also looking for donations of wine, liquor, and beers for the wine and liquor pull, and any items area businesses and organizations may want to donate for prizes.  Erich also says that the November event will not be the only fundraising event held for Larson Park. “We’re going to have a community event in the late spring, early summer at Larson Park to bring the community together as a whole. As a community, let’s try to revitalize Larson Park,” he says.