If President-elect Jimmy Carter wants "a people inaugural," the Saturday night dinner-dance for Vice President-elect Walter Mondale, hosted by the Minnesota State Society, was right on the mark.

The crowd of 1,600 was largely made up of people, all right - those who campaigned for the Carter-Mondale team plus Mondale's friends and neighbors from Minnesota, Capitol Hill and Cleveland Park.

"I'm not any of those people," said Sharon Ryan, an Arlington resident who admitted that she had done a little volunter work, though."

There were people who though they had no direct link to the new administration, still wanted to be in on the festivities, and had the $25 price for the invitation - only tickets.

While there were some luminaries at the pre-dinner cocktail reception - Agriculture Secretary-designate Bob Bertgland and another Minnesotan who was once Secretary of Agriculture, Orville Freeman - they were few and far between.

Mondale and his family and Sen. Hubert Humphrey and his wife, Muriel, were upstairs at a much smaller, private gathering. This left the multitudes in the Washington Hilton's Terrace Room searching for celebrities. Each time photographers flashes went off or the television camera crews tested their lights, guests would surge in that direction "Who's that?" they would ask. "Is it Mondale?"

But everyone had to wait until dinner time to see the Vice President-elect. Once the crowd was seated, Mondale and his wife, Joan, and Humphrey who was honorary chairman of the pre-inaugural party, arrived to moderate applause.

By the time the crowd realized the principals were there, people were more eager to get into the receiving line than applaud.

Then the scramble was on as "just folks" got their chance to press the flesh.

Some were shy, as one husband discovered when he turned around to finds his wife wasn't behind him. "Now where is she?" he muttered, making his way back through the throng. He was back in a few minutes, wife in tow, commanding here to "Stay behind me this time."

Other people, flushed from the experience, rushed back to encourage the reticent. "Hey, Marge," one man shouted over the head of a Secret Service agent to his wife, "you ought to go up and shake his hand. After all, you went out and bought that dress for this."

All was not frivolity and gaiety, though. After being introduced by fellow Minnesotan and local weatherman Barry ZeVan, Rep. Al Quie (R-Minn.), who gave the opening prayer, asked that Mondale and others "hear Your Voice and seek Your guidance." In what was interpreted by some as a thinly veiled reference to Humphrey's fight against cancer, Quie asked "Lord Jesus to heal" those who were sick.

During receiving line, when asked how he was, Humphrey, who was thin but otherwise looking well, said that he was "the way I'm supposed to be." His wife, Muriel, confided that his hair was growing back blond after the cancer treatments.

But the ebullient Humphrey was in his usual high spirits when he introduced Mondale after dinner. Given a standing ovation, Humphrey stretched out both his hands and asked the crowd to sit down, when his request was promptyly obeyed, he quipped, "You didn't have to sit down so soon." 'Warning the audience that, "With the weather 'outside, there's a 20-per cent chance that I'll talk for a half an hour," he bantered with Mondale for several minutes. Mondale reminded him throughout dinner that "this celebration is in my honor, Hubert."

Mondale who had been the senior senator from Minnesota since 1971 when Humphrey returned to Congress, said, "Now I'm going to have the Opportunity to do for Senator Humphrey what he did for me many years ago. Make him the senior senator from Minnesota." On that note, Humphrey started to dance with Muriel.

Other guests at the party, which turned out to be a night of nostalgia for Minnesotans, included U.S. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger; Mondale's self-appointed successor to the Senate, former Minnesota Governor Wendell Anderson, and former Rep. John Blatnik.

"The demand for tickets for this was so great,we could have opened another room," said Patricia Bray, one of the people who handled the arrangements for the dinner-dance.