On Saturday, August 4, hundreds of people clad in white will scatter on a sprawling green lawn against a backdrop of soaring trees and a 15th century Gothic-style bell tower that stands 114-feet above the ground. China and sterling will be set across meticulously decorated tables while music fills the air and guests mingle over glasses of champagne.
The late afternoon soirée is the perfect setting for a fifth annual, Picnic on the Lawn event, on the spacious grounds of the Unitarian Memorial Church in Fairhaven, Massachusetts. The highly anticipated picnic-dinner was conceived after a fancy event where two of the primary sponsors, Tim Evans and Howe Allen attended while visiting friends at Niagara-on-the-Lake, in Ontario, Canada years ago.
“The event was originally inspired by Dîner en Blanc [Dinner in White], which was started in Paris,” says Evans.
While many in attendance don’t need anexcuse to dress in white and indulge in this form of summer extravagance, they will eagerly partake in this elegant feast within a beautiful outdoor setting, because
of its purpose.
“We decided to create a fundraiser for the [Fairhaven] Historical Society,” says Evans, who has been a member of the organization for years, and was named its president for 2018. The historical society is an organization that needs an influx of funds to maintain its valuable work according to Evans. He points out that this event will assist the society with other funding efforts, and the purchasing of artwork for the museum, which is housed in a Federal-style schoolhouse built in 1798.
“In keeping with the Paris-tradition, guests will be wearing white, which creates a nice backdrop against the green grass and the historic church, built in 1904 by town benefactor, Henry H. Rogers,” Evans adds.
Musical entertainment and tables draped in white tablecloths are included in the price of participation. Those attending bring their own China, silver, crystal and table decorations as well as a potluck meal. As for libations, a cash bar will be available.
Then there is a friendly competition as party guests vie for the title of best-presentation or decorative table. The winner will walk away with pride in having the best table setting, along with a small, nevertheless, symbolic prize.
“Part of the fun is everyone coming together and setting up their table while others mill around the grass drinking wine,” says Evans. The tables sit groups of eight or 10, and each guest typically brings an element of the table decor, whether it’s the glassware, candelabras or a delicious menu item.
“Flowers are a typical focal point to most of the tables, Evans explains, Hydrangeas are very popular.”
As for dinner options, the host explained that guests use the picnic as an opportunity to try new recipes which are experimental or fun to create. Last year, one group made gazpacho shooters, which turned out to be an ill-fated decision, since the red soup and white attire proved to be a risky combination.
The party continues to spark interest, despite the number of questions new guests have as to what is expected. Still, attendance has continued to increase over the years and last year’s picnic boasted full capacity with 200 guests.
A town rich in history dating back to the 17th Century, Fairhaven was the site of the very first naval battle during the American Revolution. The Historical Society runs a museum where visitors can see artifacts and items that show how people lived during the last few hundred years.
Originally from the Boston area, Evans says one of the things that drew him to the town was the history and its beautiful architecture, which attracts visitors from all parts of the world.
“The Picnic on the Lawn has become an event that people look forward to,” he adds, and it’s a great time to get together with neighbors and others in the community.”
For more details, contact Tim Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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