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Annual Georgeson tea looks to Russia for inspiration

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Posted: Thursday, June 21, 2012 5:03 pm | Updated: 10:35 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

FAIRBANKS — The theme of the Georgeson Botanical Garden Society’s annual tea this year won’t necessarily include formal costumes, stiff posture and outstretched pinkies from petite cups.

The event is headed to Russia, which society president Jan Hanscom said should translate into a festive time.

“That’s what we’re shooting for this year, is having a big party,” Hanscom said. “I wouldn’t say this will be a hoity-toity, formal event.”

The Georgeson Botanical Garden Society’s annual tea, which is the only big fundraiser of the year for the University of Alaska Fairbanks research garden, has traveled the world during its five-year existence. Past events have included Victorian, Japanese and Scottish settings.

Hanscom said the decision to host a Russian tea seems appropriate, considering Alaska’s historic ties to the country. It also should make for a good time, she said, since Russians are well-known for having a good time.

Mimi Chapin, who is in charge of entertainment for the event, said it will include klezmer music, Russian dancers and ethnic delicacies. Local watercolorist Vladimir Zhikhartsev will paint during the event, allowing people to see his work in progress. Not least of all, visitors will get to enjoy the garden in its early summer splendor.

The event will also include children’s games popular in Russia a century ago, although they’ll probably look familiar to Americans, including tug-of-war and Red Rover.

“That’s not going to seem very exotic, but that’s what Russian kids did, too,” Hanscom said.

Dressing up is a big part of the annual tea, and Hanscom said she expects there will be some in attendance who take advantage of the chance to wear some Russian regalia.

But the dress code won’t be particularly rigid. Hanscom said the spirit of the event could even be satisfied by donning that classic symbol of Soviet-era decadence — a pair of blue jeans.

“I think that would be appropriate for Alaskans,” she said with a laugh.

The tea will be held from 1-4 p.m. Sunday at the Georgeson Botanical Garden. The event will include a silent auction and sheltered areas in case of rainy weather.

Contact staff writer Jeff Richardson at 459-7518.

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