By Donald Liebenson
To paraphrase Leonard Bernstein, picnicking at Ravinia offers the best of all possible worlds: you get to listen to world-class music while dining under the stars. Frequent concertgoers are no stranger to the Ravinia picnic experience, but newcomers may need some helpful assistance in preparing a night on the lawn. Backstage recently spoke to some picnickers and asked them what they were packing and what picnic tips they had for Ravinia-goers.
Jeremy and Stacy Geller, Northbrook
Ravinia picnic philosophy: “To be fully self-sufficient so you can achieve optimal levels of super chillness at all times,” Jeremy states.
What they’re packing: “We like a variety of finger foods; easy foods you could pick up and eat,” Stacy shares. “And multi-course,” adds Jeremy, “appetizer into a main course followed by a dessert. With alcohol.” This night’s bill of fare includes veggies and chips, hummus, fig dip, grapes and cheese, chicken fingers, asparagus, mushrooms, bok choy, and mini-pastries from Whole Foods.
Tips: “Bring paper towels, garbage bags, and bug spray; don’t be reliant upon others.” For hot evenings, Stacey recommends carving out pre-sunset space under a tree for shade.
Jeffrey and Beverly Hayes, Vernon Hills
Ravinia picnic philosophy: “If it fits in the wagon, it comes to Ravinia.”
What they’re packing: Lots of wine and cheese, crackers, caprese salad, “things from a local deli,” and cherries for dessert.
Tips: Be cognizant of the weather. “Tonight we packed in such a way that if it starts to rain we can get the heck out of here quickly,” Jeffrey states. Beverly adds, “Park at Ravinia Station. We can walk up and down the path and we don’t have to take a bus or pay for parking.”
Myra and Renee Krein and friends
Ravinia picnic philosophy: “Brings lots of wine.” Helen Taillon adds, “Have a designated driver.”
What they’re packing: A lot of snacks (Pringles, Doritos, Snyder’s pretzels, Townhouse crackers), trail mix, grapes, Cadbury chocolate, sandwich wraps, “Yummy bars” (Helen’s homemade brownies with caramel), beer, and wine.
Tip: Come early and enjoy the people-watching.
Eric and Diane Marr, Wheaton
Ravinia picnic philosophy: The first-time Ravinia-goers take “a minimalist approach,” Eric states. “We pack light.”
What they’re packing: Homemade chicken caprese, broccoli salad, grapes, peanuts, and a bottle of wine. “We ate the chocolate before we left,” Diane confesses.
Tips: Use the Park-and-Ride at Ravinia Station. “Thumbs up on that,” Diane recommends. “It’s free, fast, and convenient. The greeters are friendly; we made new friends at the station.”
Dean and Deedee Gurko, Chicago
Ravinia picnic philosophy: The Gurkos come to Ravinia at least three or four times a season; sometimes as much as seven or eight. They bring “things that are easy and convenient to pack.”
What they’re packing: Popeye’s chicken, Cobb salad, cheese, crackers, French onion dip, some “nice chocolates,” and a couple of bottles of wine.
Tips: Bring chairs and a tarp. [Or rent them at the park!] Forget the pizza. “It’s cold by the time you get here,” Dean states.