The hats were large, worn with ribbons, flowers and lights to coordinate perfectly with the Kentucky Derby-style ensembles of the fashionable event-goers.

Dozens of women, dressed to the stars, descended upon the Historic Holmes Theatre on Saturday, Oct. 16 to celebrate the Detroit Lakes Jaycees Stagette, a fundraiser to benefit the winter's upcoming toy drive.

"I think we have a great turnout and these ladies look amazing," said Mandie Tretbar, an event organizer, during the event. "The hats are awesome."

She said all of the proceeds will go to the Gifts For Kids toy drive in December, with more details becoming available in the coming months.

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"We purchase gifts for kids in the community," she said. "We do put (donation) buckets out, usually at different businesses around town, and ask for donations as well, but a lot of (the gifts) are usually just purchased."

The Stagette is expected to raise more than $2,000 for the program, but, Tretbar said, they could raise as much more than that depending on the amount of money spent at the various event stations.

Carnival games lined the walls of the theatre's ballroom, which eventgoers could play to win prize tickets.

Jess Benson, of Hawley, plays Bra Pong for prize tickets during the 2021 Detroit Lakes Jaycees Stagette at the Historic Holmes Theatre on Oct. 16, 2021. (Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune)
Jess Benson, of Hawley, plays Bra Pong for prize tickets during the 2021 Detroit Lakes Jaycees Stagette at the Historic Holmes Theatre on Oct. 16, 2021. (Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune)

Kasey Fetzer designed the My Little Pony horse racing game, she said, and Tretbar herself had the idea for Bra Pong a couple years ago for the men's Stag event, but it was so popular at a previous Stagette as well that they brought the game back for this year's crowd too.

The prize tickets were placed in buckets representing different items on the long prize tables, with lucky winners being drawn throughout the night. Cash prizes were also available, as well as handbags, a Roomba, a turkey roaster and other various electronic and utility items that were on hand to be won by the guests.

Event attendees decide which buckets to deposit their prize tickets during the 2021 Detroit Lakes Jaycees Stagette at the Historic Holmes Theatre on Oct. 16, 2021. (Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune)
Event attendees decide which buckets to deposit their prize tickets during the 2021 Detroit Lakes Jaycees Stagette at the Historic Holmes Theatre on Oct. 16, 2021. (Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune)

"Most of the door prizes were donated from businesses around town," Tretbar said.

While the event was a fundraiser, it was also a way to highlight the Jaycees as a leading community-focused volunteer organization that is also part networking and socializing with your neighbors, she said.

"It is a very good social club," Tretbar added.

Tretbar said that she met her husband through the Jaycees, along with many of her friends, because even though she lived in town, she worked out of town, which made it difficult to meet people after moving to a new area.

Six years ago, when Tretbar began volunteering with the Detroit Lakes Jaycees, their membership was nearly 80 members. Today, she said, the membership has shrunk to less than half that, so she emphasized the need for more community members between the ages of 21 to 40 to get involved.

Event attendees are photographed during the 2021 Detroit Lakes Jaycees Stagette at the Historic Holmes Theatre on Oct. 16, 2021. (Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune)
Event attendees are photographed during the 2021 Detroit Lakes Jaycees Stagette at the Historic Holmes Theatre on Oct. 16, 2021. (Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune)

Randi Su Tanem, an event volunteer and member of the Bemidji Jaycees, drove from her home in Bemidji to help work the event because she believes the organization helps every community connect with their own residents. She even remembers the Detroit Lakes Jaycees chapter sending her family a flower arraignment when her dad passed away three years ago.

"I wasn't even a member of their chapter, but they were just like, 'No, we are thinking of you,'" said Tanem. "It's a family. Sisters and brothers. We are this weird family of misfits and it's amazing."

Anyone interested in becoming more involved with the Detroit Lakes Jaycees should visit the group's website or Facebook page for more information.