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Museum readies for Gala

Wendy Alexander/The Madera Tribune File Photo

Sheryl Berry, left, joins Lory Miller as she stocks more goodies during the Madera County Historical Society’s annual Christmas Gala in 2017. This year’s event is Sunday, December 4.


After a two-year layoff, the Madera County Historical Society is ready for its annual Museum Gala on Sunday.

The Gala will be held in the museum on Sunday from 5-8 p.m. Tickets for the event are $40 each and tickets will not be sold on the day of the event.

“If anyone wants tickets, they have to go to the museum to purchase them when someone is there,” said event organizer Sheryl Berry. “We should have someone there all day Tuesday and Thursday. Hopefully, we will have tickets available.”

Berry, who will retire this year after 30 years of organizing the event, is hoping to see about 250 people attend.

“We were a little slow in getting invitations out, but we have a pretty loyal following,” she said. “ However, a lot of people over the years as they get older are not able to come. Some people are still hesitant to come out. Our ticket sales are pretty good.”

The Gala is a fundraiser for the Madera County Historical Society and every room will be decorated for the event.

“It’s a party for the community that features decorations in all of the rooms,” Berry said. “We will have appetizers on the main floor and in the courtroom with a bar in the saloon. We will have cookies in the cookie room. Everything is made by the members. It’s an evening to showcase the museum and have the community out.”

In addition, Berry said the museum will have special holiday hours for the general public to check out the rooms.

“We will be open Tuesday through Saturday (December 6-10 and 13-17) from 5:30-7:30 p.m. with the decorations in the rooms,” she said. “There’s a $5 per family charge or $2 per person. We get a lot of people. In 2019, we had close to 2,000 people come through the museum, so it was nice.

“We will have a lot of people that have never been in the museum that have lived in Madera their whole lives. Some have come back after a community viewing. Some are bringing in their family because they came when they were young. Sometimes, we get youngsters, after they were on a school tour, bring in their parents. A lot of our visiting nights are like that.”

With the decorations outside pretty much completed, the rush is on to finish the interior rooms before Sunday’s events.

“Some of the rooms are really close to being done. A lot of the rooms are on timers, already,” Berry said. “There are 22 different rooms decorated. There are teams of people in every room. Some have as many as 10 to as little as one or two. Every room is done by a certain team of individuals. Everyone does their own thing. In the year’s past, we had themes. This year, we don’t have any themes, it’s a general theme. We have some talented people.”

Berry said that there will be a 300 person maximum this year and it’s a perfect ending to a holiday weekend that begins Thursday with the Downtown Christmas Lights Parade, then on Saturday with the Sunrise Rotary’s Trees for Charity and Sunday’s Museum Gala.

“We have a lot of people that go to those events,” Berry said. “It’s a fun party because it’s so different than other things. People just wander around and visit. Some people sit down and visit. We will have 50-60 people in the courtroom just visiting.”

After 30 years, Berry is retiring from being the organizer of the Gala that started in 1990. She helped with the first two and became the organizer in 1992.

“It’s fun to do and I enjoy working with all the people, especially the younger people coming in,” she said. “My grandkids and other grandkids come out to help. It’s about all the people. We have a good time. Sometimes, we eat together there and have dinner together.”

Berry’s family also helps out, including her grandchildren.

“It’s fun to see my grandchildren come out to help,” she said. “My one granddaughter and her husband are bartenders. My son helps set the bar up. It’s getting their families and other families out here to help out with the rooms. It’s great to see all of the families. I can think of two or three people that had grandparents active in the museum. Their grandparents are gone and the grandkids are now helping out. We had one member that recently passed away. Her daughter, daughter-in-law, granddaughters and great-granddaughters are helping out. That’s good to see.”

Berry isn’t sure about the future of the Gala since she is retiring. She said she wants to get through this one and then the Historical Society will decide on next year.

“We don’t have any idea about next year,” she said. “I don’t know if anybody wants to pick that up.”

Berry said the Gala is a great event to help start the holiday season in Madera.

“It’s about bringing everyone together and having a good time,” she said.

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