Among the features of the banquet was special music provided by St. Olaf students. Agnes A Cappella group sang for banquet-goers Saturday and a string quartet provided a full half an hour of music for guests trickling in on Sunday. Though the Sunday meal began at noon, many guests arrived early. "A couple people showed up as early as 11:10," one member of the string quartet said.
Henke and Hvidston noted that, though 110 people came to Saturday's dinner and 160 people came to Sunday's lunch, attendance was lagging slightly in comparison to other years.
"The majority of the people who come are either first-years or seniors," Henke said. "It's different this year because 50 percent of the first-years come from out of state."
Both Henke and Hvidston noted the immense amount of work involved in organizing the annual banquet. The two students have been planning this event since last spring.
Much of the work was detail-oriented, from arranging the musicians, speakers and floral arrangements to "deciding the color of the napkins," according to Hvidston.
Choosing the meal for each evening also required careful consideration. "When you're deciding the meal, you have to know who's coming," said Hvidston. In the end, the coordinators decided on pork and mashed potatoes on Saturday and chicken with wild rice on Sunday, along with a salad and dessert for each meal. "Mothers will eat pretty much anything as long as the sons are happy," Henke said. Meal planners did, however, have to consider vegetarian and no-pork options.
Each meal featured a different St. Olaf professor as the main speaker. Family studies professor Sharon Powell spoke Saturday about her experiences raising two boys. She acknowledged both the constancy of love throughout motherhood as well as the constantly changing relationship a mother has with her son. She also noted the challenges of learning the names of various Power Rangers.
Associate professor of biology Jean Porterfield addressed banquet attendees Sunday. Though she stated that her two and a half years of motherhood was far less than that of the other mothers in the room, she hoped that mothers would like to think back to a time when their boys were small. She also noted her perspective as a teacher. "At least I can provide a professor's view on your own sons," she said.
In her speech, she noted how necessary it is for mothers of both toddler sons and college-age sons to let go when necessary. "As hard as it is to tear ourselves away from our sons, that's sometimes the best way to show our love for them," she said.
Among other advantages of being a mother, Porterfield noted that her own motherhood helped her to be a better professor. "The power of the mother-son relationship pushes its way into my every day interactions with students."
She noted that now she looks at students and thinks how proud their mothers must be. "Sometimes I look at students and say, 'I wish my son could have that quality someday,'" Porterfield said.
Mothers and sons both seemed to enjoy the speech. Senior Erik Torgerson's mother said of Porterfield's speech, "This [banquet] is our third one, and she was the best speaker yet."