homepage logo

Back Alley Tour and Tea on horizon

By Staff | May 27, 2011

The Back Alley Tour and Tea will take place May 28 through 29. The fundraiser raises money for the local men's club while allowing participants to tour gardens throughout historical Shepherdstown. There are 22 different sites incorporated in this year’s tour, which will be marked with numbered signs and balloons. (Judy Olsen photo)

“If April showers bring May flowers, who knows what we will have in June?” laments the Back Alley Tour organizer, Mike Austin.

This relaxing saunter through town to peek over fences, look into backyards and compare how other gardeners are faring, along with a taste of living Shepherdstown history, takes place from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday.

The tea party, an integral part of the festivities, will be held upstairs at the War Memorial Building from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day.

The whole event kicks off with a reception at 6 p.m. Friday to open the Friday Painters’ annual art exhibit on the first floor and to give the many volunteer docents who will assist visitors during the tour a chance to interact with other participants.

The 22 different sites incorporated in this year’s tour will be marked with numbered signs and balloons.

Those taking the tour will pick up their route maps and tea party tickets on the first floor of the Men’s Club where they might want advice on how to tailor their tour to meet their specific interests.

“This tea party has been the most fun to plan. My volunteers just keep coming up with new recipes and new ideas,” said Bonnie Austin, who plans the tea party each year, in a press release. “The preparatory meetings are where everything gets ‘taste tested’ first.

“The almost constant rains in recent weeks hopefully have ensured that an abundance of luxurious flowers are available to complement the theme of ‘the birds and the bees.'”

Mike Austin, a retired Navy officer who commanded several amphibious ships during the Vietnam War, said, “Watching these Men’s Club volunteers pull their tea party together makes putting Marines ashore look relatively simple.

“Some area homes are undoubtedly echoing because they have been emptied out of treasures to transform the Men’s Club ballroom into an elegant tea room.”

Shepherdstown merchants and restaurants also actively support this Back Alley Tour and open their doors to the many visitors who come to town just for it.

“While the support of these business owners and many town residents is critical to the success of the event, there are three that deserve special recognition: The Sweet Shop and the Village Florist, who handle ticket sales, and the Jefferson Security Bank, who provides seed money upfront each year to help pay for printing and advertising,” Mike Austin said.

Ticket sales will continue at these two businesses and at the first floor reception center in the Men’s Club throughout the weekend. Additional information is available at smc25443.org.