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The Invisible Guest Banquet

As you can imagine, the COVID-19 pandemic put an end to many scheduled programs this year. Unfortunately, we’ve had to cancel our annual Celebration Banquet as well- our largest, most prestigious fundraiser of the year. So we’re looking for ways to creatively reduce that loss and still deliver a Hoover message. And we didn’t have to look far- because Herbert Hoover himself set the example in 1920 with a series of Invisible Guest Banquets.

At the end of WWI, Congress appropriated $100 million and created the American Relief Administration, naming Herbert Hoover to head the effort. When the money ran out, Hoover knew the work was not done and there were more people to feed, so he asked President Wilson to allow him to continue using the ARA name as a private organization and he would raise the funding needed himself. To do that, he created the Invisible Guest dinners. Guests would buy their tickets plus one extra ticket for the invisible guest – which was really an empty chair with a candle on it, representing those who were in need of food.

“Americans spend more than one billion dollars on automobiles, on ice cream, tobacco, gum and cosmetics,” Hoover said in 1920. “Surely we can reduce this spending to feed a child.” At $1000 a plate, the guests were served the same relief food used in Europe. He was able to quickly reach his goal of $30 million within a year. But we’re not actually having a dinner, and we’re not asking for $1000 a plate.

We’re asking anyone who’s ever been to one of our banquets or people who wish to support the Hoover Presidential Library and National Historic Site, to purchase an Invisible Guest Banquet ticket for themselves and one for the invisible guest, at $150 each. If they do, we have a limited edition Hoover signature tie or a ladies scarf patterned after one of Lou Henry Hoover’s dresses for them. If they purchase a pair of tickets and one for the invisible guest, we’ll send a scarf AND a tie as our thank you for their support.

By making your gift through our convenient online portal, you’re helping share Herbert and Lou Henry Hoover’s life and legacy with a generation who has not heard his incredible story! In return, we’d like to thank you with your choice of a limited edition Hoover signature tie or ladies scarf – or both!

REMEMBER- There is no date or location for this banquet- because there is no banquet! This will have some people scratching their heads- to promote a banquet that doesn’t exist – but the main focus here is to support the Hoover Presidential Library and Museum and the National Historic Site, and the work we do to share the life and legacy or Iowa’s only president, Herbert Hoover.

Thank you!