Golf carts? Check. Homeowners kept busy and, more importantly, kept calm? Check.
Golf carts? Check.
Homeowners kept busy and, more importantly, kept calm? Check.
Artists at each location? Check.
Volunteer appreciation party locked up and ready to go? Check.
Is everyone recovered from PreTour? Check. (Probably.)
With that, you have all the secrets of a successful Haus und Garten Tour: operations to keep the day going, homeowners generous enough to let 5,000 people critique their taste in art and furniture, artists to capture the magic, volunteers to make it all run smoothly and, of course, a fabulous PreTour night to get everyone excited and ready for tour. I'm wondering if fascinators will be in this year as a nod to the new Windsors.
Six years ago this week, maybe even to the day, I interviewed for my job with the German Village Society. I knew I would be a good fit, but I also was green enough to know that my thoughts on the matter didn't really mean I would be. Thankfully, my intuition was right.
Katharine Moore, then the executive director of the German Village Society, picked me up at the airport. I vividly remember driving with her on Beck Street and her telling me about a "streetscape committee" and city money that we might be able to put to good use. We had lunch, I took a quick walking tour of the village with Brent Warner to talk about German Village commission and guidelines "stuff" and then we all chatted some more.
All the while, the hum of the Meeting Haus never really revealed the madness that was tour week. I remember meeting Cindy Creedon and P. Susan Sharrock very quickly in passing and hearing about all the plans for the Haus und Garten Tour, but not really grasping them. I do remember that 2005 was the year the entire tour was on Beck Street. Since I hardly knew where Beck Street was at the time (not realizing it was around the corner), that fact didn't mean much to me.
Looking back now, I believe that Katharine sending me for a walk with Brent and P. Susan dropping me in front of countless visitor center videos were their ways of keeping me busy while they did all the last-minute minutiae that goes into finalizing the Haus und Garten Tour. I also think Katharine was a little crazy for scheduling my interview that week, but it worked out, so maybe she knew what she was doing after all.
If only I'd known the crazy train I was jumping aboard! The same weekend the very next year, I was knee-deep in helping with the tour, and that was the year there was a pre-PreTour party. I remember thinking that it was my last "first" since I was very quickly approaching my one-year anniversary, and I'd already survived the Art Crawl, Oktoberfest and the holiday events. The tour was all I had left to get through, but boy, oh, boy, was it a beast unto itself.
The tour basically runs itself, but it's at the end of this endless week and weekend of events; everyone involved is exhausted by the time Sunday comes around. While the committee and volunteers keep things moving, there are always, always last-minute details of some sort. So, know that this week the buzz at the Meeting Haus is legit, the event coordinator is in overdrive, the committee is waiting for their day-of orders, homeowners are really and truly doing their last-minute cleanups and PreTour hosts are cooking, baking and slaving away.
A hurricane's worth of energy is unleashed in German Village this week, and that's before the first tour ticket is purchased Sunday morning. This is the weekend that makes our year go round and the amount of work that has gone into it is no joke. It takes an army of volunteers, trained professionals and a very dedicated board of trustees to get us here. In a few days, their efforts will be realized.
So, enjoy the good work they have done and will do. Encourage your friends to go to a PreTour dinner and take the tour. Applaud your neighbors as the annual awards are presented at the volunteer appreciation party after the tour.
Do it while you can, because after Sunday, it's onward to the 53rd Haus und Garten Tour, the last Sunday of June in 2012.
Jody Graichen is director of historic preservation programs for the German Village Society.