STARKVILLE, Miss.--Ragtime beats will pulse through the library, dotted with flappers dancing the 1920s Charleston. Models will flaunt drop waist skirts, close-fitting headpieces and elaborate jewelry.
Mitchell Memorial Library will glow with a classic Roaring '20s motif at Mississippi State University's Gatsby Gala, the opening celebration for the 2014 Charles Templeton Ragtime & Jazz Festival.
"A lot of time and effort has been put into planning the Gatsby Gala. We believe this will extend the reach of the Templeton Ragtime & Jazz Festival and the extensive collection we have in the Charles Templeton Sr. Music Museum," said Stephen Cunetto, festival coordinator.
While admission to the March 28 and 29 festival concerts and lectures ranges from $10 to $50, the 1920s-themed gala at 6 p.m. on Thursday [March 27] is free. Visit http://library.msstate.edu/ragtimefestival for the festival's complete schedule.
"The gala will showcase talents and skills of MSU students and highlight a few of the many creative opportunities at Mississippi State," said Leilani Salter, gala coordinator. "This event would not have been possible without the enthusiasm and incredible work ethic of these students and department heads. We are thrilled to help provide this venue for the students."
The colorful, extravagant ensembles for the models were designed by approximately 10 apparels, textiles and merchandising majors, said Charles Freeman, assistant professor of human sciences. His students worked closely with Fashion Board students to choose the model with the right look for the precise 1920s style to be presented.
Fashion Board will supply about 20 students to act as models, hair stylists and production crew at the gala, said Bri Stewart, president of the student organization.
"It's a very diverse event pulling together a lot of different organizations at Mississippi State," the senior business major said. "Dancers, designers and other performers are working with Fashion Board to put together this show. This is a great way to showcase a bunch of different talents and hands-on organizations at Mississippi State."
Candles will light an opulent runway, said Lynette McDougald, instructor of floral management. The halls will be adorned with lavish hyacinth, tulip, carnation and rose sprays, developed and arranged by floral design students.
"Whatever was growing in the local area was what they were using as their cut flowers in the '20s, so we're planning to use the flowers that would be available in the South at this time of year," McDougald said. "There will be a simplicity to it, but it will be a profusion of colors."
At least 10 members of MSU's Ballroom Dancers will perform, said Amanda Washington, president of the club. They will dress in 1920s-inspired fashions and perform period dances.
"The MSU Ballroom Dancers are glad and excited and thrilled to be performing in costumes to recreate the Gatsby Mansion," said the senior pre-med biological sciences major. "We are going to be doing variations of the 1920s Charleston and a little bit of the Lindy Hop."
Pianists Mimi Blais and Jeff Barnhart, both accomplished ragtime and jazz performers, will play at the gala, Salter said. Blais will also perform at the March 28 and 29 evening concerts, and Barnhart is the artistic director for the entire festival.
"In addition to the fashion show and dancing, attendees may dress in 1920s-inspired clothes and walk the 'Maroon Carpet.' Cameras will be plentiful, and we want to photograph all the creative fashions," Salter said.
Also, the School of Human Sciences will sponsor a historic exhibit in the John Grisham Room featuring 1920s apparel and accessories, she said. Finally, attendees will have the chance to sample foods popular in the 1920s.
Fashion Board faculty advisor Ann Bailey emphasized the uniqueness of the opportunity for all the students involved. Participants are gaining professional experience helping prepare them for the workforce, she said.
"There's so much going on here at Mississippi State and so many collaborations," Freeman agreed. "The whole event is student-driven, and it's a real growth experience for everyone involved."
For more information about the gala, contact Salter at 662-325-2559 or email@example.com. Learn more about the Templeton Ragtime & Jazz Festival from library associate Lynda Graham at 662-325-6634 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
MSU is online at msstate.edu.