Winter tea raises funds for Luttrell Barn Cultural Center in Craig
Cups of tea and conversation filled the old red barn as more than 60 people gathered Sunday, Feb. 24, to enjoy a Victorian-era tradition — afternoon tea — and raise funds for ongoing improvements and maintenance of the historic Luttrell Barn Cultural Center east of the Moffat County Fairgrounds.
In addition to plentiful cups of tea, Luttrell Barn Cultural Center board members made savory and sweet canapés served by a team of seven volunteers, including three students from the Moffat County High School Key Club.
Sundays Annual Winter Tea marked the fundraiser’s third year and the second consecutive year it has been held in the restored barn.
“We want the barn for our community to enjoy, and they do in so many ways. Special family occasions are celebrated there and meetings. The WiFi, sound system, and large screens are a plus,” said board member Delaine Voloshin.
The tradition of afternoon tea is believed to have begun in 1840 in England, created by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford. The duchess regularly became hungry between breakfast and the evening meal, so she began requesting tea, cake, bread, and butter be brought to her in the afternoons, according to historic-uk.com/CultureUK/Afternoon-Tea. When Anna began inviting friends to join her, she established a tradition that was adopted across the British colonies.
One of the first mentions of a tea hosted in Northwest Colorado was a published by the Routt County Courier March 18, 1909.
“Nothing is more delicious for luncheons and ‘high teas’ than a Virginia baked ham,” wrote Emma Paddock Telford, who went on to provide her recipe and instructions.
In the 1940s, the Craig Order of the Rainbow Girls hosted teas to raise funds for good causes. One such event was described in the Craig Empire-Courier on July 1, 1942, which reported: “The Order of Rainbow for Girls were hostesses at a silver tea Tuesday afternoon at the Masonic Hall, and over 50 persons were served. The table decorations were lovely with pink roses in a brown basket as the centerpiece and with a beautiful crystal punchbowl and cups and tea service.”
The proceeds raised went to the United Service Organizations to aid military families.
Another resident recalled: “My grandmother, a singularly well-bred old lady, and her women friends always poured tea from cup to saucer and drunk from the saucer, which was, very thin but of a generous size. In too many hotels and even in some private houses, the cups are too thick. A sensitive person finds the tea served in them tasteless. As for that, few women know how to brew tea. As a rule, it is too strong. For this and other reasons, I prefer ale in its native pewter,” reported the Moffat County Bell on Nov. 30, 1916.
Many of the guests at Sunday’s Winter Tea wore hats and dressed in period costumes or used props provided by Katie Johnson of Katie’s Kostumes. Volunteers poured guests tea from pots into porcelain cups — many of them antiques — owned by board members.
Proceeds from ticket sales to the tea, along with other fundraising efforts, including an online auction, will go to pay for repairs to the barn.
As a result of previous fundraising, the loft, where hay was originally stored, has been opened into a large space with room for dancing, concerts, or theater presentations.
The board hopes to raise enough money to install a lift to allow people with disabilities to access the second floor and build an awning over the north entrance to help keep that entryway free of ice and snow.
“We continually work toward improvements,” Voloshin said. “The entire building can be rented by the hour or the day. Renting the barn also helps keep it operating.”
Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com.
Downtown Business Association will host its annual Octoberfest celebration from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 28 at Alice Pleasant Park on the 500 block of Yampa Avenue.