Table for 1200 More at the Forks in May of 2018 was a magical experience. Guests dined along the river trail at one of our most iconic city sites. We had clear skies, a hot spring evening and beautiful table designs by the 150 Table Captains, all to celebrate place-making, design and local culinary delights.
If you were there, you may have even seen members of #TeamEthero wandering the line of tables, dressed in white, glass of wine in hand and greeting guests. We were happy, calm and serene. Those are the moments we live for: seeing everything come together to create something truly unique for the people of Winnipeg.
But oh, behind the scenes! What happens when our guests aren’t around? That perfect evening for our guests has dozens of stories about what it took to pull it off.
Up until seven days prior to the event, that section of the Riverwalk wasn’t even our location. Mother Nature had plans of her own, rendering our chosen locale unusable. We tried every avenue to make it work in time, but with one week to go, we needed a new location. Bless their hearts, the wonderful staff at the Forks worked with us to make their prime public area along the pier available with very short notice. All our vendors adjusted delivery schedules and logistics accordingly. Fortunately, because the site is always a surprise until the day of the event, our guests had no idea that anything wasn’t as it was originally intended to be.
As event day rose bright and hot, our team was busy setting up on site from 9am and answered the question, “What’s going on here today?” about 873 times to bystanders and curious tourists. We found the balance between event setup and keeping the walkway useable to the public as long as possible. (We were only sworn at by a few passersby as they sped their bikes past the barricades. Staying calm under pressure - and verbal abuse - is our speciality!)
Once dinner was over and guests had wandered off to find a post-meal drink at The Common, the real adventure began. It turns out that having to hand-deliver 1200 chairs, 1200 plates and 1200 of everything else required from the trailers, down the stairs/sandbanks and along the riverfront to serve a meal is no joke. Normally our Table for 1200 locations allow us to deliver and pick-up furniture and supplies using a truck, but this site had access and pedestrian constraints which meant everything was hand bombed...both ways.
At 11pm, our incredible event supplier, D&M Rentals, showed up with a beautiful sight: 10 eager high school employees, full of energy and youthful enthusiasm, ready to work alongside us.
Around 1am, still wearing our white clothing but no longer feeling fancy, we were diligently scraping food from plates and stacking dish ware.
By 2am, the last of the tables, chairs and boxes of plates were being hauled, by hand, up the stairs and towards semis parked 200 feet away.
At 3am, one member of our team (who will remain unnamed!) almost threw up behind the dumpster, partly out of sheer exhaustion, partly from spending a full day in the sun but mostly in reaction to the leftover slop from the dinner plates.
By 4am, we were finally all home, exhausted, and in need of a little break from each other and most human interaction. It’s a team rule: no one has to talk to each other for a few days post-Table for 1200.
The best part? By the following April, the stories and struggles became a funny memory, we'd completely forgotten any previous discomfort and we simply couldn’t wait to do it all again! You’re always worth it, Winnipeg.