Serving tea with a side of history at Sycamore Shoals

The Sabine Hill Social Society will be putting on their best period attire Sunday for their now-annual fundraiser event: a tea party.

This is the simple definition of the Formal Sweetheart Tea, but director of the society Donna Horowitz said the event was a crucial part of social circles in the early 19th century.

“Getting together for tea was part of socializing,” Horowitz said. “It was one of the only ‘approved’ ways for men and women to mingle outside of church.”

Since then, men and women mingle much more often, but she said the event can still hold significance today.

“People came to talk about what was going on and coming up, and ladies could bring out their finery and show it off,” she said.

This will be the second year of the Formal Sweetheart Tea, a fundraiser event Horowitz said helps fund a myriad of events throughout the year.

“We had great success last year,” she said. “We did so well we decided to increase the seating by 20 this year.”

Not just the attire will be period-appropriate, however. She said the society went to great lengths to be as correct as possible, including purchasing cloth napkins, porcelain pots and actual china.

“There will be no plastic here,” she said.

In addition, Lindsey Williams of the Johnson City Symphony Orchestra will perform throughout the afternoon.

“No one else does nothing like this for their fundraisers,” Horowitz said. “Our goal is to introduce events that were popular during the early 19th century.”

The event takes roughly four hours to set up the day before, largely due to the need to create their own kitchen space to make the tea.

“This is the most challenging event we do,” she said. “In addition to the kitchen space, we have to set up the tables and figure out where to put everyone so we fill them all. Last year we had to acquire all the china and pots.”

The funds from this event go to a variety of different events throughout the year, including an English Country Fellowship Dancing class on March 3.

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