Laughter and hugs were plentiful at the meeting of the Domestic Art Club at The Cedars Conference on March 16.

The women's club, which began in McPherson in 1906, meets each month for a luncheon and an educational program.

"It was to give the women a chance to get together ... and support each other," said Vice President Shirley Morris.

The Domestic Art Club's purpose goes deeper than eating a meal and listening to a speaker, according to Jerri Wall Yeargan, club historian

"I get real upset when people think these are frivolous clubs; they're not. They're very strong friendships," Yeargan said. "...It's just a connection that I find very valuable."

Yeargan, who joined the Domestic Art Club in 1961, seeks out other women to bring into the group that gave her a chance to have a few hours free from the demands of raising four children.

"I just think it's worthwhile and I love bringing people in to celebrate and be together," Yeargan said.

The Domestic Art Club used to meet in the Blue Room of the Warren Hotel and had a dress code for its members. Yeargan still recalls having to buy a new hat for every meeting.

"It was really fun then, but we've simplified it. Our lifestyles are not like that anymore," Yeargan said.

The tradition was revived for the club's 100th anniversary meeting in 2006 — one of the most memorable gatherings for the members.

"We all wore hats and gloves and had a great party," Yeargan said.

Open to women of any age, the club meetings focus on connection and education. The programs presented often cover historical topics along with the contributions of women to society.

"It's important for women to bond together and if it's over lunch with an informative program, it's time well spent," Yeargan said.

Domestic Art Club member Joanne Fleming said the meetings aided her in getting to know people after she moved to McPherson.

The same sentiment was echoed by several other members who noted it can be difficult to make friends after coming to live in a town without any other family members.

"It's so nice to see these people at least once a month and get acquainted," Morris agreed.

"I really enjoy my women friends," Yeargan said. "Women are really strong and we're really the backbone of the family and this nation."

For more information about the Domestic Art Club, email Yeargan at jaywisdom@att.net.

Contact Patricia Middleton by email at pmiddleton@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her stories on Twitter at @MiddleSentinel.