It is banquet season.  Academic banquet, sports banquet, music banquet and of course, the FFA banquet.  Throw in an elementary awards assembly, a middle school awards assembly and a high school awards assembly.  People get sick of sitting through awards ceremonies.  Plus, graduation is looming next.  

      There are only a few things that attendees truly care about when attending a FFA banquet.

1–Did the officers know their parts and did the kids look sharp in official FFA dress?   Yes.

2–Was the meal good?  Yes.

3–How long did it take?  Tonight was 58 minutes from gavel to gavel.  New personal record.  

      The majority truly don’t care who wins which award.  They are interested but it isn’t a priority.    

     I’m not much of a banquet-type of person.  And the longer that I have taught, I have developed my own set of rules for the FFA banquet.  

Decorations–limited.  Waste of time and money.  In all honesty, only a few mothers care about the decorations.  

Awards–hit the high notes.  Not every kid needs an award or a certificate.  Get the big ones announced, make it worthwhile and give the others something to shoot for next year.  Never be afraid to give more than one of the same.  For example, if you have two bad-ass freshman, give two star greenhand awards.  Plaques are cheap. 

Slide shows/videos–Keep it under 5 minutes.  Upbeat, cool music (of course).  Let the kids make the video, let them play it and let the advisor advise (give guidance and approve the final product).  

Statistics–This is where most coaches screw up and make an athletic banquet drag on.  If you want stats, pull them up online.  Likewise, an ag teacher doesn’t need to talk about every win, community service project or high salesman.  If the chapter reporter has done their job throughout the year, the people already know who did what.  Hit the high notes.  

Time–One hour and 15 minutes.  That is how long a banquet needs to last.  That includes the meal.  Opening ceremonies, invocation, then send everybody through the meal line and as soon as the last person is seated, start the video.  People can eat while watching a video.  Once you start nearing an hour & 30 minutes, attendees start getting restless.   –No guest speaker.  They take up too much time, cost money and in the end, nobody really wanted another speaker.  Attendees are there to see the kids.  If you want to see a good guest speaker, go to State FFA Convention or fire up some youtube videos.      

Meal–high quality meat items, some sides, some bread and some desserts.   Tonight was smoked brisket, smoked bologna and smoked Blue & Gold sausage.  Some corn and beans for sides along with some rolls.  Then cookies and cupcakes.  Nobody cares about the sides, the bread or the desserts if you have top shelf meat.  We are carnivores.  

Practice–don’t just tell the kids to know their parts, practice until you know for sure that they know their parts.  

       For the Shattuck FFA banquet, I took care of cooking and preparing the meal.  Mrs. Abbey took care of making the plaques.  Laser etched wood that looked really cool.  This is a good arrangement, because if the roles were reversed and I was in charge of awards and Mrs. Abbey was in charge of the meal…..well, the kids would get a sticky note with some illegible scribbles on it and we would have eaten store-bought PB&J sandwiches.  By both ag teachers putting in a lot of effort, it saves the chapter a pile of cash.  As a side benefit, the kids like knowing that their teachers put in the effort.  

      I’m not saying that we have the best banquets ever.  Some communities WANT a big production…it is tradition.  That’s great.  But, I do enjoy parents coming up at the conclusion of another FFA banquet and saying, “I wish that you would teach the coaches how to do a banquet. ”  

Another FFA banquet in the books.  Have a good one.

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