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Bridal show at Colfax auditorium to feature antique and vintage wedding dresses

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX  —  By early April, Joan Scharlau’s house was starting to look like a bridal shop, what with all of the wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, flower girl dresses, bouquets and other assorted wedding paraphernalia.

Scharlau, president of the Colfax Municipal Building Restoration Group, has been busy collecting wedding apparel for a bridal show that will be held at the Colfax Municipal Building Auditorium May 2.

The bridal show is in honor of National Preservation Week — and it also is the kickoff event for the Colfax Municipal Building’s 100th anniversary.

The cornerstone to the municipal building was laid in 1915, and the building was completed in 1916, Scharlau noted.

“Over the next year, we’re going to be celebrating the building’s 100th anniversary with a variety of events,” she said.

All together, 26 dresses will be modeled at the bridal show. Another eight dresses will be on display but will not be modeled because of their age and fragility, Scharlau said.

“The dresses we have are varied in pattern and fabric. There are a number of satin dresses with lace trim, dresses that consist mostly of lace, princess-style dresses that are very full, and nylon dresses with lace trim,” she said, adding that several of the dresses have very long trains.

Gladys Knutson will be one of the models, and the dress she will be wearing has been worn by three members of the Jenson family: Gladys Lind Knutson, Margaret Christianson and Carol Lind Meyer.

Another of the older dresses is a 1920s style dress worn by Dorothy Meissner when she married Fred Ganong on October 19, 1929.

The dress that Connie Hill wore at her marriage to Jon Haugle will be part of the bridal show as well.

Connie’s dress, with a lovely sky blue bodice, is a Gunnesax (brand name) dress unique in style to the type worn in the 1960s and 1970s.

Marge Knight Hernandez’s dress also will be part of the bridal show. Marge married Conrad Hernandez on May 18, 1963. Her dress was sewn by Jeanette Hanson.

The Hernandez dress is described in the Colfax Messenger in 1963: “Given in marriage by her father, the bride wore a white nylon organza over taffeta gown with sculptured bodice, long sleeves with petal point and a satin belt with cabbage rose in back. A crown held her fingertip veil of silk illusion, and she carried a white orchid with stephanotis.”

Another wedding gown that will be featured in the bridal show is the dress worn by Phyllis Olson Williams when she married Jerry Schwartz on September 4, 1950. Her dress was sewn by her mother, Alvia Olson.

Ava Hazaga will be wearing a flower girl dress from 1964.

Beverly Schauer’s wedding gown will be part of the bridal show, too, as will the wedding gown worn by Marvel Entzminger.

Schauer served on the Colfax Village Board for more than 20 years.

Some Messenger readers will remember Marvel Entzminger as their high school English teacher.

Oldest gown

The oldest wedding gown in the style show will be the dress worn by Martha Rosenberg when she married Elbert Hill in Colfax in 1908.

Because of its delicacy, the dress will be on display only and will not be worn by a model.

The wedding announcement for Martha Rosenberg and Elbert Hill was published in the January 1, 1909, edition of the Colfax Messenger. At the time, the Colfax Messenger was a Friday publication: “Thursday evening at 7 o’clock, occurred the marriage of Mr. (A)lbert Hill and Miss Martha Rosenberg at the home of Mr. and Mrs. P. Rosenberg, Rev. Scott officiating. Ed. P. Rosenberg acted as the bridesgroom [we would say “best man” today] and Miss Hattie Rosenberg as the bridesmaid.

“Only relatives and the most intimate friends being present. The groom is a highly respected young man of this village who has made this his home for a long while and is held in the highest esteem by his vast number of acquaintances. The bride, who is one of the most highly respected young ladies of our village and her many acquaintances hold her in their highest esteem. They left on the 10:23 train the same evening for Eau Claire, Chicago and other points for their wedding trip. On their return for a while they will make their home with the groom’s father in the village. The Messenger joins with the vast number of friends and acquaintances in wishing a happy and prosperous voyage through the matrimonial journey.”

1934 gown

The oldest dress that will be modeled is the wedding gown of Clara Anderson Berg, who was married June 13, 1934. Her dress will be modeled by her great-granddaughter, Emily Carstens.

Clara Anderson’s wedding occurred at the height of the Great Depression. Many weddings at the time were held at a parsonage or at the home of the bride. The wedding of Clara Anderson and Byron Berg was held in a church. The bride carried roses. There were flower girls with baskets of rose petals and a ring bearer with a elaborately decorated pillow. There were bridesmaids. There were flower centerpieces at the reception and also a wedding cake.

The Colfax Messenger carried the following story about Clara Anderson’s wedding in the June 28, 1934, edition. By 1934, the Messenger was a Thursday publication:

“A pretty wedding was solemnized Wednesday afternoon, June 13, at 2 o’clock in the Hay River Lutheran Church by Rev.  E. Oleson, when Clara, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Anderson, of the Town of Otter Creek, became the bride of Byron Berg, son of Mrs. and Mrs. Bennett Berg of the Town of Grant.

“The bride wore a beautiful gown of white satin with a tulle train veil worn in cap shape. She carried an arm bouquet of American Beauty roses and ferns.

“Miss Gwendolyn Anderson, niece of the bride, was dressed in pink silk with bouquet and was her maid of honor.

“Miss Bernice Knoepke, another niece, was her bridesmaid and was gowned in orchid colored silk, who also carried a bouquet.

“Mr. Berg had as his groomsman, Arnold Anderson, while Malcolm Knoepke was best man. The double ring service was used.

“Three little girls dressed alike in ruffled white dresses and veils made up the wedding party. The ring bearer was Annabelle Anderson, who carried them on a lovely white pillow with ruffles and streamers on, and Shirley Mae Bird and Janice Lindberg acted as flower girls, carrying beautiful baskets in white filled with rose petals. Miss Birdie Bronken played at the church and again at the bride’s home.

“Following the ceremony, Mrs. Ray Thorberg sang “I Love You Truly.”

“The church was decorated fitting for the occasion, while at the bride’s home where a reception was given in the early evening, for a large number of relatives, the color scheme was carried out in orchid, pink and white crepe paper with ferns, roses and peonies, and tall white cathedral candles adorning the long tables. A lovely wedding cake baked by Mrs. Burnson formed the center piece on the tables.

“The bride is a graduate of the Dunn County Normal, class of 1925, having been a successful teacher here for the past nine years. The groom is a highly respected farmer.

“The newlyweds received many beautiful and useful gifts, including those given at the miscellaneous showers previously held in their honor, one at the bride’s home and one at the groom’s home.

“Four young ladies wearing ruffled white aprons waited on tables.

“They will be at home to their many friends on the Ralph Bird farm where the groom is employed. They have the best wishes of all for a long and happy life.

“Those from a distance attending the wedding were Mrs. and Mrs. Lewis Anderson and family of Prairie Farm; Mrs. and Mrs. Elmer Meyers and daughter of Knapp Settlement; brother and sister of the bride, and Mr. and Mrs. William Bitney, from the northern part of the state, sister of the groom.”

Bridal show

The Colfax Municipal Building Restoration Group’s bridal show will be held at 1:30 p.m. May 2 at the Colfax Municipal Building Auditorium — also known as the Cozy Theater.

Admission to the bridal show is free.

Wedding cake will be served after the show.