Topping The Speed Ball’s eagerly-anticipated, exquisite decor year after year is a responsibility that would cause some to crack under pressure. But to Amy Streeter, it’s a welcomed opportunity to think outside the box.
For the last seven years, Streeter – the 11-year owner of Susan’s Florist located off Preston Highway – has served as the floral chair of the premier Louisville gala, working alongside Bittners Vice President of Residential Design Ron Wolz. From chocolate roses and pheasant feathers to streaming garlands filled with snapdragons, Streeter’s keen eye for striking design creates an atmosphere of elegant floral art at each annual Speed Ball.
For the 40th anniversary of the event, held at The Gillespie on March 2, the evening’s floral theme will be entirely white, featuring hydrangeas, roses, orchids, tulips and trachelium, among other flower varieties.
The Voice-Tribune caught up with Streeter to learn more about her long-time involvement with The Speed Ball and what can be expected for the 40th installment of the spring soiree.
–Ashley Anderson, staff writer, The Voice-Tribune
Why an all-white theme for The Speed Ball this year?
One, we try to make it different every year because I think that brings a lot more interest for the guests. But at The Gillespie, because it is the new venue, we wanted to do something that would be very elegant and clean, because there’s a lot of gold and it’s kind of a deco theme there. So we wanted to do something that would be very elegant and upscale.
How long does it take to prepare for The Speed Ball?
As far as the actual setup, installation for the big pieces on-site, it’s two full days – all day Friday and all day Saturday. But we start on Monday, so it’s a week long for the actual (production of) the arrangements. (And) there are hours and hours that go before that between Ron and I in coming up with the recipes and sourcing all the flowers and the containers.
How many designers help you prepare the arrangements?
There will probably be eight of us that will be incorporated into the event.
Where will the arrangements be placed throughout the venue?
They’ll be at the guest tables, so there are 43 tables, some upstairs, some downstairs. And we have four different designs that will be mixed throughout. This year we’re going to do some white topiary trees that are probably almost 8 feet tall on some of the tables downstairs.
In the seven years you’ve worked with The Speed Ball, does one stick out the most?
I would say probably the year that we did the peacock (arrangement). It’s been hard to top that because so many people saw it, and not only that night, but … there were openings at the museum, so that week I went back to the museum every day and watered it and fixed flowers, so that it was there from Saturday to Saturday. … That one was definitely like putting together a Rose Bowl parade float with chicken wire and all the rest.
How big of a role does the decor play in The Speed Ball?
I think it’s a huge part of it, because people have high expectations for the flowers there. I think probably as much, if not more, than any other ball in town, the flowers are a huge part of it.
What’s the day after The Speed Ball like?
The day after, we do the breakdown, and we take all the flowers and rearrange them in smaller containers so we can take them to nursing homes. So we distribute them throughout the community for people who don’t get to attend the ball.
That Sunday we have all these volunteers come in, and I usually will try to do a little flower arranging class for them, just so they can do something in their own backyard. That we get to share that with people throughout the community is great too.
What do you love most about your work with The Speed Ball?
I think one of the things that I enjoy about The Speed is being able to do things out of the box. … Because the big pieces that we do are certainly not something that you would even see in somebody’s home.
I think (The Speed Art) Museum is such a phenomenal jewel for Louisville, just like so many other things that we have that you don’t realize until you maybe move away from Louisville or have children and start making field trips and those kinds of things. I think that it’s important to give back, and so I feel like the museum is a piece of Louisville that everybody can enjoy, young and old, and we’ve got a lot of beautiful pieces in there. I’ve enjoyed working with everybody, and I feel like it’s a wonderful thing that we have here in Louisville.
The 2013 Speed Ball will be held March 2 at The Gillespie, 421 W. Market St. Chaired by Jonathan and Tracy Blue, with creative direction from Bittners President Douglas Riddle, The Speed Ball will include cocktails, dinner catered by Corbett’s, dancing and dessert, along with a performance by Indigo, a Ken Arlen Orchestra. As the Museum’s largest fundraiser, the ball supports The Speed’s many education programs, exhibitions and family activities.
For more information, visit www.speedmuseum.org or call 502.637.6363.
Photos by CHRIS HUMPHREYS | The Voice-Tribune