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A Holiday Showcase for the Ages

The Garden Club of Hyannis celebrates 400 years of Cape holidays with a magical transformation of South Yarmouth’s historic Cultural Center.

Four centuries ago in early winter, the Pilgrims aboard the Mayflower landed on the shores of Cape Cod. This seminal 1620 event in American history with its deep Cape roots was the natural choice for a widely anticipated Holiday Showcase planned for this November 18-20 at South Yarmouth’s Cultural Center. Entitled “400 Years of Holidays on Cape Cod: 1620-2020,” the three-day event will feature a splendid transformation of the center’s interior and exterior spaces by the Garden Club of Hyannis.

Where better to create a gorgeous display than in the Cultural Center of Cape Cod, housed in the old Bass River Savings Bank building, itself a landmark nestled in a beautiful historic district. From floor to ceiling, inside and out, the center will celebrate Cape Cod’s quintessentially American holiday traditions.

Photos provided by the Cultural Center of Cape Cod.

“The Cultural Center’s main building is an architectural anomaly on Cape Cod,” says Lauren Wolk, the nonprofit organization’s public spokesperson. “It’s a big brick building with tall Palladian windows, a terrazzo floor with a Compass Rose, 19-foot ceilings in the Great Hall, crown molding and lovely archways, and lots of elegant details. The original building really lends itself to events like the Holiday Showcase.”

Wolk, who has experienced all four previous Garden Club of Hyannis Holiday Showcases first hand, goes on to note that the Cultural Center this year will be, “profusely decorated with opulent floral arrangements and captivating tablescapes, wreaths, swags, container plants, artwork, furnishings, and accents. Also, the exterior facade and entryways will be dressed with lush greens, berries, ribbons, baubles and bangles. And the 2021 Magnificent Boutique will offer thousands of handcrafted items for sale!”

Wolk says that this event has been a seasonal must-see event for Cape Codders and visitors for many years, since the first Holiday Showcase in 2008. “This happening involves so much effort that the Garden Club of Hyannis hosts it only every three years,” Wolk explains, noting that the 2021 Showcase was originally supposed to be held in November of 2020. “Because of COVID-19, the hiatus grew to four years, but the extra time meant extra effort on an event that is sure to impress visitors.”

Fortunately, the theme has plenty of staying power and is a perfect thread that ties together the various focal points of the 2021 Showcase according to one of the event’s three Garden Club of Hyannis co-chairs, Deborah Faulconer of West Hyannis Port, who notes that the entire club is involved in the extensive planning, scheduling, and considerable work involved in producing such an event.

“We have 70 plus members who are all involved,” says Faulconer. “Our main purpose is to highlight the talents of the garden club, while fund-raising for the community, primarily for student scholarships.” Faulconer notes that the Holiday Showcase, which usually attracts around 1,500 visitors, raises more than five figures for civic projects, scholarships for local college students, teacher grants, and for the club’s general fund.

Visitors to this year’s Showcase will be able to tour the Cape and the Islands by traveling through several display areas, immersing themselves along the way in various iconic places and pastimes. Those areas will include the following themes: Provincetown— Mayflower Landing; Sandwich—Glass and Light; Hyannis Port—A Children’s Christmas in Camelot; Yarmouth Port—A Victorian Wedding at a Sea Captain’s Home; Harwich Port—Thompson’s Clam Bar; Bass River—A Holiday Reception; Sconset—Christmas Past and Present; and Nantucket—Harvest at Christmas.

“One of the reasons that I love to do the Holiday Showcase is that it is a chance for us to share the creativity of the garden club with the public, and we are so proud of the work that we do to put it on. Seeing the smiles and hearing the comments from the visitors just makes us feel so good, especially this year, when it will be doubly meaningful when the world has gone through so much with the pandemic!” ~Deborah Faulconer, 2021 Holiday Showcase co-chair

Faulconer calls the Showcases “labors of love,” noting that sometimes even club members’ families are called to help out, such as for this year’s Showcase when one member’s husband is actually constructing a wooden replica of part of the Mayflower, mast and all, for the “Provincetown: Mayflower Landing” exhibit in the center of the Cultural Center’s Great Hall.

Each Showcase takes years of planning as the garden club committee members hold dozens of meetings. “First of all, we decide on a theme and try not to replicate the previous four Showcase themes and then we build that theme around a holiday,” says Faulconer. “That’s the first challenge! Then we try to find members who are willing to take on a leadership roll and create their own committee for each area of the Showcase. We have members chair every room—and this year, we are talking eight rooms, plus decorating the outside of the center!”

“It’s amazing how much thought, planning, and sweat go into these Showcases,” marvels Wolk. “The garden club members spend many months putting their heads together to come up with a plan that’s very structured and detailed with great attention to overall theme and cohesion, but also gives the many contingents artistic license and creative freedom.”

Wolk describes the weeks before the Showcase installation—a four day, full scale commitment for all committee members—as a “little bit wild, but also beautiful.”

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