The Seersucker Social is set for Tuesday evening, April 28. If you're one who enjoys warm weather, Arkansas history, and perhaps a few cool drinks, this is a fun event at one of Arkansas' most famous landmarks. The Social is for all ages with a focus skewed toward the younger professionals. And it's for the even younger generation – the state's schoolchildren – who stand to benefit the most from this event.
Henry Paul Willmuth, an executive with Centennial Bank by day, is the 2015 President of the 1836 Club (named after the year Arkansas became a state.) He was happy to take a stab at answering this week's Q&A.
In its fourth year, the Seersucker Social has settled in nicely on Little Rock Soirée's annual social calendar. What new details have you all added to this year's event?
This year the Capital Hotel Bar & Grill will present specialty cocktails and CBG menu favorites. There will be more emphasis on lawn games – such as croquet and bocce ball – and food will be served to guests as they explore the grounds with a mint julep, a Seersucker, or a Debutante. We're bringing in Big River Steel Band this year for music. And, of course, all proceeds will go to the School Bus Fund to bring kids to the Old State House.
How did you get involved with the 1836 Club and the Old State House?
As a native of Arkansas, I have always loved the Old State House. The sense of place you get here is incomparable, on this beautiful site on the Arkansas River, in this Greek Revival structure that survived – miraculously – as the civic center of Little Rock grew up around it. The 1836 Club is a group of younger people from around the state who came together to take on projects to support the museum and make sure not only that the place is preserved, but that future generations appreciate and understand its significance to Arkansas.
You mentioned how this year, proceeds from the social will benefit the School Bus Fund. How exactly does this program work and how could a school administrator reading this get more details?
It is vital that the children of Arkansas learn the history of the state they are going to inherit. During the last school year, over 7,000 students came to the Old State House Museum from 88 school districts all over the state. Those numbers are good, but we want every school kid in Arkansas to have a chance to visit. Once the School Bus Fund is operational, teachers will be able to apply through the Arkansas Humanities Council to get grants to offset the cost of getting to the museum for field trips. For more information on the grants and the programs available, check out SchoolBusFund.com.
As president of the 1836 Club, you've spent your fair share of time in the Old State House. What's your favorite part of the museum?
I would have to say that the 1836 House of Representatives Chamber has a special pull. It's where our first laws were passed, and it's where a young state representative named Joseph J. Anthony was stabbed to death, during a debate on the floor in 1837 by the Speaker of the House.
Finally, is a seersucker suit required?
Seersucker is absolutely NOT required. This is something we've had lots of people ask about in the past. Seersucker has such a great, warm-weather feel, and people are certainly going to be ready for it after the winter that we have just had here in Arkansas, but any kind of spring clothes will be just fine. If you need any extra guidance, you could always ask our friends and sponsors at The Independent and Barbara/Jean. By the way, the best dressed man at the Seersucker Social will win a custom bespoke jacket from The Independent and the best dressed lady will win a $500 gift certificate to Barbara/Jean.