Among the wild parties and speakeasies of the Roaring 20’s, many people gathered for quiet and easy going afternoon garden parties. These garden parties were typically small gatherings of family and friends that consisted of games, light food and of course, alcoholic beverages.
While many people may think these parties were only for the wealthy, which may have been true in the earliest part of the 1900s, by the 1920s leisure activities such as garden parties were past times enjoyed by everyone. For those who did not have large gardens at their homes, picnics in the public parks worked as a very good alternative especially considering that the games played were ones that were easy to transport. The three most popular games were bocce ball, badminton, and croquet. Though other games were played these were fun, easy and could be enjoyed by all ages.
For food, small sandwiches consisting of chicken salad or cucumber were the go to ‘main dish’. Often these sandwiches were accompanied by fruits, vegetables, salads, or cheeses as well as light desserts. Along with the food was of course drinks. At private parties, alcohol would be served, often mixed drinks as they were becoming more popular as it grew increasingly difficult to get ahold of quality liquor. Of course, picnics in public parks would not have alcohol, but other light refreshments.
One of the most interesting aspects of these garden parties were the clothes worn by the guests. During the 1920s there was a small fashion revolution going on, especially for women. Dresses were loose and colorful, a big change from fashion during the earlier years of the 1900s. During garden parties, it was often easy to tell the difference between the wealthy and middle class by the color of the women’s clothing. Wealthy women wore white, while women with less money wore pastels and light colored clothing, which was typically also their Sunday best. White clothing was very hard to fully clean at home if dirt or grass stains got on it and, aside from the wealthier women, most couldn’t afford to have the dresses cleaned by someone else or to buy a new dress if the other was too badly stained. Wearing darker colored dresses meant that any stains that could not be fully lifted off the dress were light enough to not be seen against the colored fabric.
Though this era of garden parties has unfortunately passed, the Barker Mansion does its best to recreate times gone by with the Midsummer Garden Party. Held on June 30th from 7pm-9pm, the party offers finger foods and drinks reminiscent of the time. A light fare of finger sandwiches, fruits, cheese, and deserts compliment wine and beer as guests enjoy the evening in the beautiful Mansion gardens. 1920s era music will play in the garden to set the mood while guests explore all three floors of the Barker Mansion where they will also have the chance to view part of the basement that is now open to guests. This 21 and over event is $20.00 per guest. Find more information and reserve your spot online at: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/midsummer-garden-party-at-the-barker-mansion-tickets-45777934033
Hope to see everyone on Saturday!
Heritage Interpreter Jackie Perkins