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Elk Grove Citizen

Spring Tea Promotes the Arts

Mar 28, 2024 10:26AM ● By By Emanuel Espinoza

From left are dancers Hannah Clay, Adam Guenzler, Amanda Clay, Jacob Lee, Marilee Moon-Vanni and Jonathan Thurston. Photo by Emanuel Espinoza

Strauss Festival Spring Tea [2 Images] Click Any Image To Expand
ELK GROVE, CA (MPG) - About 300 attendees helped raise funds at the annual Spring Tea, an event associated with the Strauss Festival of Elk Grove, on March 23 at the Center at District56.
Since 1987, the Strauss Festival features a choreographed storyline set to music by the family of Austrian composer Johann Strauss, played by a live orchestra. The Strauss Festival takes place each year on the final Thursday through Sunday of July before a total of more than 18,000 audience members.
The Strauss Festival has a medieval theme, which meant that the past weekend’s Spring Tea did too. One of the traditions that the Spring Tea event holds is the table decoration competition. Many tables were decorated with medieval decor to blend with the medieval theme. A few tables had other themes, such as Japanese and Easter theme.
Strauss Festival of Elk Grove board member Jillian Waters said that the event provides different awards for the table competition.
“What we do is that the decorators could decorate the tables how they want to,” Waters said. “We have different awards. One is in relation to the theme for the show or the Tea, and there are also ‘People’s Choice’ awards and ‘Most Elegant.’ Some people like to decorate in relation to the show’s theme or their own personal choice.”
Raelynn Springer, the Chief Financial Officer and Strauss Festival producer, said that this event was the first and largest fundraising event of the year. Because the Strauss Festival takes place in July, this event advertises the festival and is tied to the event’s theme each year.
“Our theme for the 2024 festival is a two-kingdom tournament, so it’s our take on the 2001 film ‘A Knight’s Tale,’ where we have two kingdoms that are vying for the interest of a princess,” Springer said. “They will be competing in games and a winner will be selected and the princess will select her knight. It’s our own interpretation and we put our spin on known things to appeal to all ages.”
Springer said that this event has been a staple for the Strauss Festival for more than two decades. She said that this was the first time it was held at District56 when in previous years it was held at the Laguna Town Hall. 
For Stephanie Mendenhall, an event attendee, the Spring Tea and Strauss Festival have been a tradition for her for years. Mendenhall said the Strauss Festival is “near and dear to her heart” and has been attending that festival since she was a child.
“I have been to Strauss’s Spring Tea about six times,” Mendenhall said. “It’s a really good time. I love tea but I also like seeing all the tables and the people all dressed up. It’s really fun.”
The Spring Tea event also played host to professional dancers who took the stage to perform. Amanda Clay, a dancer and the costumer for the troupe, said that she has attended the Strauss Festival since she was 8 years old. She joined the cast of dancers in 2017.
“I think it’s a wonderful arts program that is available to the whole community,” Clay said. “I think it’s important to have these types of events where everyone can enjoy the arts.”
Board secretary Carol Bayles said that the Strauss Festival was honored to decorate a table to honor four individuals who have dedicated themselves with support since the beginning of the festival’s inception: festival founder Iris Zimbelman, and also Sue Johnson, Mary Lewis and Millie Brink.
Many awards were presented to the winners and runners-up. The Founder’s Award went to Cori Mallonee. The first-place winner for the Chairman’s Award was Susan Link. The Strauss Festival’s Theme Award went to Erika and Olivia Smith. The Strauss Tea Award went to Jessica Guerrero. The People’s Choice Award went to Kayti Jones and Kari Gilleran. 
Bayles said that each youth attending the tea received a coupon for a free Patti’s Small Sundae from Leatherby’s in Elk Grove. H