MODESTO -- Fork, knife, napkin, plate. Setting a table usually isn't a particularly complicated endeavor.
Unless you're doing it to raise funds for the McHenry Mansion then table settings can get very complicated, indeed.
And draw crowds to see the results.
The 26th annual McHenry Mansion Foundation Table Setting Fund-raiser is set for Monday and Tuesday at St. Joseph's Catholic Church. The event is a benefit for the mansion, a restored historical Victorian home in downtown Modesto.
Forty tables will be elaborately set and decorated for viewing, from those most elegant to those most whimsical. Themes planned this year include ornate homages to fall, Christmas, New Year's in New York City, Willy Wonka and Valentine's day, as well as tables decked out in patriotic splendor.
The table decorators are "best categorized as friends of the mansion," said Marie Bailey, who is helping promote the event this year. "Some are docents who work at the mansion, some are foundation members, some are people in the community who just like to do it."
The setting pieces usually come from personal collections by the volunteer decorators, Bailey said. Any floral arrangements or other supplemental items are paid for by the decorators, as well.
The table setting event is the biggest annual fund-raiser for the McHenry Mansion, which was built by Robert McHenry in 1883 in what is now downtown Modesto. The building was converted to apartments in 1923. The Julio R. Gallo Foundation bought it and gave it to the city in 1976, kicking off a restoration effort.
In 1983, the home which is on the National Register of Historic places opened to the public for tours and is the site of weddings, receptions and special events.
In December 2011, a fire caused extensive damage to the mansion. Repairs are nearly complete, and while the mansion currently is closed to the public, Bailey said the hope is that at least some rooms will be open for tours again in time for the holidays.
AT A GLANCE
WHAT: McHenry Mansion Foundation's Table Setting Fund-raiser
WHEN: Monday preview, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Tuesday viewing and luncheon 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
WHERE: St. Joseph's Catholic Church's Fr. O'Hare Hall, 1813 Oakdale Road, Modesto.
TICKETS: $10 Monday; $40 Tuesday luncheon (RSVP)
CALL: (209) 571-0635