When we moved here last spring one of the first town wide events we attended was the Summer Pops concert at Wilcox Park. Not knowing what to expect, we were a little underprepared. This year’s concert is quickly approaching on June 18 and we are very much looking forward to making an evening of it.
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We moved here from Lenox, Massachusetts where we were fortunate to attend many concerts at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Tanglewood is notorious for the elaborate picnics that guests bring which often include tables, candelabras, silver and flowers. While our family didn’t quite go that far, we really enjoyed putting in a little effort and are hoping to continue the tradition of picnicking here at Wilcox Park with the Pops. Last year we learned that you don’t need to be right in the thick of it to enjoy this event. You can sit on the outskirts and have more room for the kids to be kids without worrying about their behavior and yet still hear the concert. This year we will perch our blanket further away and spread out a little more.
The word picnic has evolved from the French word pique-nique, a term that came to be in the sixteen hundreds. Translated into English, piquer means to pick. It was originally used to describe an event that took place after a medieval hunting party. From what I’ve read, it was more of a very elaborate pot luck than the casual outdoor meal we think of today. The concept of picking though, is exactly what I visualize when I think of a picnic; a variety of little bites you can eat without committing to an entire meal.
Historically, some say it was first used to describe events where the wealthy brought their own wine to dinner. The word was not regularly used in the English language until the nineteenth century at which time it meant a meal at which each guest brought their own dish. The American picnic, as we know it, means different things to different people, but most always involves eating outside on some sort of blanket. Meals can be casual or elegant. My most recent experience with a picnic was at Fun Day at Springbrook Elementary School where families were allowed to gather with their children at lunch time to enjoy a quick meal.
Picnics are a great opportunity to share food with friends and family while enjoying the great outdoors. The May 2016 issue of Bon Appetite Magazine featured an article on picnics with ideas ranging from which blanket to buy to which sandwiches will hold up best. They suggest that portable sandwiches absolutely need to pack well; nothing too bulky or messy. We like to make our picnics fun by serving portion sized food that is ready to grab and eat. A little preparation goes a long way and ensures that you can sit back and enjoy the time outside with your family and friends. Picnics are completely personal. You can make the food yourself…or you can make it easy and buy every single thing you need ready made. I like to make the food look festive by packaging it in fun little paper containers. Easy to grab, easy to eat and easy to clean up after.
Tips if you go…
Go the night before to set down a blanket (no tarps allowed) to reserve your space but when you go for the actual show bring a new blanket that is dry. Last year was quite rainy before the event and our blanket got soggy. Soggy blankets are not fun to sit on!
Bring something heavy to anchor your blanket with. You never know how windy it will be and all that work reserving your space is lost if your blanket flies away!
Unlike Tanglewood, you cannot bring candles or alcohol…so leave those things at home!
Bring a trash bag so that as you eat you can easily pick up after yourself.
Don’t forget the bug spray!
Summer Pops 2016 is being held this Saturday, June 18 at Wilcox Park. The pre-show is at 6:00 with the concert beginning at 8. Fireworks will follow and will be set off from inside the park this year.
Click here to see the event in the Events Calendar.