Though SAC usually organizes just two banquets for most parent-student weekends, the mother-daughter banquet typically boasts the highest attendance; consequently, SAC now plans an extra banquet for to account for the high number of attendees. "Some years we have as many as 800 attend over the entire weekend," said Leslie Sandberg, the Assistant Director for Student Activities.
Each banquet featured a different musical group from St. Olaf to provide entertainment as guests filed in. This year's entertainment included a string trio, a jazz quartet and female a cappella group Agnes. Depending on the banquet guests chose to attend, mothers and daughters ate either Asian-style buffet or a North-woods buffet.
Throughout the banquet mothers and daughters talked amongst themselves and with other attendees. "It's so nice to see mothers and daughters all in one place -- we don't really see that anymore," said mother Shelly MacMillan, who drove up from Kansas to be with her daughter Noelle. Students seem to agree. "I liked seeing everyone's mothers and how much people looked alike!" Ann Molitor, '07 said.
This year the banquet featured a buffet rather than the usual course-by-course meal. "This is the first time we have ever done buffets, and that means this time people have more choice in what they want," said Kate Horvat '10, a co-chair in organizing the mother-daughter banquet. Lauren Henke '09, also a co-chair, noted that Bon Appetit played a major role in the success of the new buffet-style banquet. "They supply the servers and keep the buffet stocked," Henke said. "It takes a lot out of our hands." Henke believes, however, that next year the committee will return to the usual system of courses rather than a buffet.
Like every year, each banquet featured a speaker to provide insight and humor into the mother-daughter experience. "We usually have faculty," Sandberg said, "but we have had a parent speak in the past." Each banquet features a different speaker; this year Rosalyn Eaton-Neeb, Judy Kutulas and Mary Titus spoke about their experiences both as mothers and daughters. Titus described the pulls of being both a mother and daughter at the same time, a phenomenon she called the "sandwich generation."
In her speech, Eaton-Neeb remembered lessons she learned as a mother and daughter, among which were "flexibility and patience" and to "always moisturize."
Both Kutulas and Titus recounted the ups and downs of the mother-daughter relationship throughout all its stages, a process that Kutulas called the "mother-daughter dance." Eaton-Neeb noted that she learned lessons both as a mother and daughter, among which were "flexibility and patience," and to "always moisturize." Junior Nikki Schmidt, who attended Kutulas' speech, said "the speech had just the right mix of sentiment, bluntness and humor."
Planning the mother-daughter banquet, or any of the parent-student banquets for that matter, requires long-term planning. The Student Activities Committee is already planning for next year's banquet. "I already have the banquet dates for next year, and we're now choosing next year's menus," said Sandberg.