Grant Park Music Festival Picnic Contest
At this weekend’s inaugural Grant Park Music Festival Picnic Contest, spectators and hopefuls couldn’t have asked for better weather—sunny in the high 70s. Team Sunday Night Peasants (pictured above) took home the first place prize, the Golden Picnic Basket award, featuring a $50 gift card to Mariano’s Fresh Market, an assortment of GPMF merchandise and a cooking class taught by veteran culinary consultant Judith Dunbar Hines.
The Great Lawn at Millennium Park is no stranger to serious picnickers. But the fete’s competitive picnicking challenge required contestants to tap into their creativity and familiarize themselves with the evening’s featured performance. Their test, to create a picnic based on Austrian composer Haydn’s oratorio "The Seasons," "a series of poems about nature, divided into four parts—spring, summer, autumn and winter."
More than a half-dozen teams were critiqued on incorporating the four seasons and/or themes from the evening's score, including peasant dances, hunting expeditions, and work/labor; unique menu items and an attractive picnic site. Challengers showed quite a bit of ingenuity, too. Among the clever highlights were a woman wearing a fur coat to represent winter, an adorable red pepper appetizer, cut to resemble pansies and filled with soup, traditional Austrian cuisine and one tablescape that included an audio recording of a thunderstorm.
"The idea is to get all concertgoers on the lawn involved, show that classical isn’t a members-only genre of music and that the opera can be fun," says GPMF house manager Joe Fernicola.
The Grant Park Music Festival runs through August 18.