A Gala Festival | Ellen G. White Estate

A Gala Festival

27 July 1871

Almost 5 years after the opening of the health institution in Battle Creek, it was finally on a sound financial basis, under good management, and with four physicians on the staff. Enlargement of the main building was about finished, and the cottages had been refurbished; it seemed that there should be a rededication of the facilities. This would offer an opportunity to acquaint the city and surrounding community with the institution.

The committee chosen to foster the event, chaired by James White, sent out printed invitations to the principal families in the city and community to participate in a "hygienic festival" on the grounds of the institution. The response was excellent, and the dinner was an outstanding success. One of the guests, the Honorable George Willard, editor of the Battle Creek Journal, made the following statement:

On Thursday, July 27, on the spacious and beautiful grounds of the Health Institute in this city, there was held a Health Reform Convention or Hygienic Festival, which was attended by about eight hundred persons, chiefly assembled from Battle Creek and the towns in the vicinity. The day was one of the finest of the season, and as the people began arriving about eleven o'clock in the forenoon, they found the amplest preparations made for their reception.

On the south side of the grounds were five tablesóeach 128 feet [39 meters] in length, the total length being 640 feet [195 meters]óall set in the neatest style and appropriately decorated with vases of flowers, while on the north side a large platform had been fitted up for a speaker's stand, with seats arranged in front of it for accommodation of the guests during the speaking (HR, August 1871; quoted in RH, Aug. 22, 1871).

Before the guests sat down at the tables, there were some speeches from both James and Ellen White. They were listened to with close attention as they presented with force and clearness the new principles of hygiene.

After the invocation of the divine blessing and dinner was announced, the crowd surged toward the five tables. Six hundred seventy-five persons were served with a tempting meal. There were vegetables, of course, tastily prepared:

New ripe potatoes, green beans, green corn, beets, squash, green peas, baked beans (ibid.).

There were breads and cakes:

Gems, raised bread, hard biscuit, buns, fruit cake (graham), sponge cake (graham), apple pie (graham), oatmeal pudding, manioca pudding with fruit, rice pudding with fruit (ibid.).

As to fruit there were peaches, dried prunes, figs, dates, apples, whortleberries (huckleberries), and blackberries. The editor stated:

It is to be noticed that butter, grease of all kinds, tea, coffee, spice, pepper, ginger, and nutmeg were wholly discarded in the cookery and were not in use on the tables. Salt was provided for those who desired it (ibid.).

Going considerably into detail, the editor stated:

The dinner was served in a most capital manner, and was relished and universally commended by the vast company of guests, most of whom for the first time sat at a public dinner got up on the hygienic plan (ibid.).

Then there was a visit to the facilities of the institute, and the crowd gathered again to listen further to James and Ellen White. Willard concluded his report: "The institute, it is needless to add, has gained greatly by this convention, in having its aims and objects, as well as its actual condition and prospects, brought more fully before the public at large" (ibid.).

This is precisely what the directors of the institute and the Adventist community had hoped for, and was a prelude to a long and interesting future that really put the name of Battle Creek on the map.

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