Wacky-Tacky Tea Party

Stanley, Idaho, a town of approximately 100 full-time residents and a couple thousand in summer, is famous for often being listed as the coldest place in the country in winter (and sometimes in summer).  It is also located in one of the most scenic places in the country—at the base of the Sawtooth Mountains. FarmingBeneaththeSawtooths_DSC3496Color

Each Fall, a tea party gathers friendly folks together at the High Country Inn.  This is not an ordinary tea party, although teapots figure prominently.  This is a wacky-tacky tea party.

Part of Jean Ridle's tea pot collection

Part of Jean Ridle’s tea pot collection

The object of the party is to raise funds for the Custer County Cancer Care Fund, managed by EICAP (Eastern Idaho Community Action Partnership).  The purpose of the funds is for cancer patients in Custer County–$600.00 per calendar year for any one person—to be helped with cancer costs and more specifically for practical assistance related to cancer treatments.  By 2015, the Care Fund has helped 83 folks in Custer County.  The Care Fund was established by Jean Ridle, who also had cancer herself, and who survived when others in the community did not.  She wished to help.  Sometimes the recipients need gas money to travel to Twin Falls or Boise for diagnosis or chemo.  Sometimes the support is for caregivers or baby sitters.  Sometimes the recipients need a place to stay for themselves or family members.

What makes it wacky?  Take a look at a few of the costumes people wear:

Julie Weston, Julie Rember and Gerry "You're Fired" Morrison

Julie Weston, Julie Rember and Gerry “You’re Fired” Morrison

Leopard lady, Pretty in Pink, Erin Ridle, Julie Rember

Leopard lady, Pretty in Pink, Erin Ridle, Julie Rember

What makes it tacky?  Erin Ridle awarded tacky prizes to wacky costumes, longest mustache, traveled farthest, lived closest, and so on.  Two little brothers, Army Man and superhero, helped give out the silly prizes: A mustache comb, a Big Foot Tracking Kit, a shark bowl, a bobble head, zombie playing cards, a re-gifted animal (plastic) fur boa, miniature cars, teapots, whistles, and more.  Some prizes are won, and other prizes are the subject of heated bidding—and nearly always returned for more bidding. A canister set no one wanted was one of those.  My husband Gerry won for his Trump-look-alike if Trump’s hair weren’t dyed.  His gray punk hair and bushy gray eyebrows definitely looked the part. He answered by telling Erin, “You’re fired.”  I won for being Pretty in Pink in my fake fur pink coat and wide brimmed pink hat.  Julie Rember won for Stealing Fred Flintsone’s outfit, complete with a hand-made leaf wreath on her head (fashioned by her husband John Rember).  A woman dressed from the top of her head to her toes in leopard-skins (also fake) won for PETA’s worst nightmare.  Nearly everyone won something to great laughter and clapping.

Jean, her husband Pat Ridle and their daughter Erin, long-time residents and once owners, operators and guides for the Middle Fork River Expeditions, conceived of the tea party to help raise funds.  Many of the guests bring desserts, both sweet and savory, to accompany tea and coffee served in the elegant pots.  Chocolate chip cookies, chocolate cake and cheesecake, fruit tarts, artichoke nibbles, chips and dips at a buffet table disappeared over the course of the afternoon.  As the calories mounted, so did the cash.

Jean is the owner of the teapots—a marvelous collection.  For years her family has organized the event—now a community event–bought the wacky gifts, and raised money.  Every penny goes to the fund.  At least one other small Idaho community has borrowed this idea to raise funds for locals who need help. Next year, the Stanley party will be the tenth Wacky-Tacky Tea Party.  The total raised for the first nine is $60,100!

If any reader wants to contribute, send a check in any amount to EICAP, 955 Riverfront Drive, Ste. A, Salmon, ID 83467, 1-800-359-9163.


News:  Story Circle Network awarded me a Star Blogger status.  The symbol is up in the left hand corner.  Story Circle Network is a membership organization working to advance women’s stories and women writers.  I am honored to have this award!

SCN Bloggers: Julie Weston
Julie Weston, SCN member from Idaho, writes memoir, short stories, and essays. She is currently blogging at Home Ground about her book tour as she promotes her second book, the mystery Moonshadows. Her first book was a memoir, The Good Times Are All Gone Now. Julie considers herself a woman of the West and left her law practice to explore her artistic side as a writer. Visit her blog and website to see how very well that is working out!


I was featured in an interview by Liz Simmons at Digital Readership.  You can read the interview at Digital Readership Part 2


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