It was as if the evening had been specially designed for the event: warm gentle breezes, skies blue with icing of gauzy white clouds, a picture-perfect location by a harbor sporting a glorious glassy high tide. Yes, perfect in every way for an event that has become an annual gala – the Great Community Picnic.
The annual fundraiser is a joint effort of the Mattapoisett Land Trust (MLT) and the Mattapoisett Historical Museum, now known as the Mattapoisett Museum (MM). It brings together two of the most important organizations the town can call its own: an active land trust striving to protect and conserve sensitive tracts of land, as well as fresh and salt water quality, and a museum that holds a wealth of internationally important historical artifacts and data, while evolving to become an even greater influence and center for cultural activities. A truly winning combination. But how was the idea of a summer’s picnic conceived?
According to the museum president Jennifer McIntire, it came about through good old-fashioned brainstorming. “We had been trying to think of a way to hold a fundraising event together,” she said. Nothing the two teams thought of seemed to click.
Then Chris Demakis, who is an MM board member who had attended a diner en blanc thought maybe that concept could be modified for Mattapoisett. “We knew no one would go for dressing up in all white,” McIntire said laughingly, ”but the idea of an outdoor summer’s evening picnic came out of those conversations.”
Tables were sold with a range of seating options from 4 to 10 chairs with free hor d’oeuvres, while fresh oysters from local waters along with adult beverages were available for sale.
As the bubbly and bites were shared, people gathered to listen to the live music that flowed across the lush property. They also strolled about enjoying the floral arrangements and other decorative elements partygoers had brought along to embellish their tables.
One table drew on the growing shark mania that is spreading throughout the south coast and Cape Cod. Hillary Antone and Rene Bradshaw, along with friend Nils Johnson, tricked out their table with jaws memorabilia including a disembodied leg! People could pose for picture in a face cutout that put them in the middle of a great white’s gapping jaws. For their effort, the team was awarded Best Decorated Table and received a gift basket donated by a local vendor.
Another group featured not a decorated table but decorated ladies, that is, ladies with decorated hats known as a “fascinator.” The ladies each designed and constructed their fascinator specifically for the event. Donning artistic creations of butterflies, purple netting, pearls, feathers, and flowers on their heads were Sally Westgate, Joan DeRugeris, Pat Goss, Joanne Dunn, Liz Waring, Linda Higgins, and Sue Cusic. DeRugeris demurred, ”We are ready for when Harry and Meghan invite us over.”
MLT president Mike Huguenin said, “We love this event. … It’s the height of the summer season.”
And as the sun set over Mattapoisett Harbor, the MLT and MM organizers were already planning next year’s gala by the sea.
By Marilou Newell