A Fabulous Picnic on a Beautiful Day

This past weekend was an annual event for one of our car clubs, a picnic to welcome new members to the club. My Sweet Babboo and I were in charge of the event, and it has been several months in the planning. It is a potluck event, with the club providing the venue and the fried chicken. After a week of record heat, a cool front came through the night before the event, bringing lower temperatures and drying out the humidity to create a lovely day. Temps were in the low 80s, with low humidity, and a breeze that at times was a bit too much for the tablecloths.

It all began that morning, with a small group of members gathering to set up the tables and chairs that had been rented. Yes, we had to do that work ourselves. We arranged the tables, set up 128 chairs, and decided to wait on the tablecloths until just before the event due to the gusty winds.

I made centerpieces with star sprays and German flags as our theme. These were easy to make. I used the star sprays from the dollar store, opened up the foil at the base and hot glued the German flag in. Then I replaced the foil and the little twist tie. I was disappointed that although I told the new members at every table that they could have the centerpieces, almost all were left behind. I tried to give them away to anyone at the end, and no one wanted one. One lady took a few that she said would be donated to a thrift store where she volunteered. Ah well. I thought they were fun, and kept one for our bookshelf. The rest are in a box and will appear at another event at some point.

We put gold tablecloths on the tables for seating, and red ones on the serving tables.

The buffet tables began to fill up with dishes and the aroma of good food.

The appetizer and drink tables were open from the start so people could graze and enjoy the cars. I was so busy, I almost didn’t get any photographs.

As I was running between the registration table, gathering food for the appetizer table, drinks and main buffet, welcoming new members as I spotted their special name tags, helping people find their table, refilling ice, and answering questions, I barely had a moment to run to the show field and get a few shots of the gorgeous cars on display.

But I did get a couple of nice photos of the lines of colorful cars.

I was the last one through the buffet line, but it didn’t matter as I only had time to eat a piece of chicken and few bites of sides, before I had to jump up again. I didn’t really have time to chat with the people we were sitting with, which was unfortunate as I wanted have some time with them. Then all too soon, and yet seemed like a long time, it was time to start cleaning up, breaking down all the tables and chairs, bagging up the trash, and collecting the things to go back home.

We spent over five hours at the show/picnic between set up, picnic and take down, not including the hour in the early part of the day to set up the tables, chairs and small tent. We came home exhausted. I didn’t realize that there would be so much back breaking work that we had to do on our own when I agreed to chair this event. I am very grateful that at least a dozen members, still present at the end of the event, helped us with the tables, chairs and trash at the end. I put out a survey to the participants, and frankly was both heartened and dismayed at the comments. People loved it and commented with lots of positive thoughts, or hated it and blamed me for things over which I had no control. There were 23 empty seats from last minute cancellations and no-shows, which meant 10 fewer dishes than planned and some tables half filled, and somehow that was my fault. Sheesh.

This was the final event of this year that I have any part of planning, organizing, or chairing. After this and the quilt show, I am ready to be just a worker bee at the next two events where I’ve agreed to help – a big MINI event in July, and perhaps one other event in September. For all else, the answer is “no, I can’t”, nope, no, not!! But all too soon, it will be time for the Mountain State Fair! Oh, my, it is always something!!

23 thoughts on “A Fabulous Picnic on a Beautiful Day

  1. Rita C.

    Your event looked like a success to me. What a shame that people had to leave negative comments pointing toward you as the chair. No good deed goes unpunished…..

  2. karenfae

    a lot of people do not know what all goes into planning an even and setting it up – too bad they complained when they took no part in helping put it together. It sounds like you had no time to enjoy the event

  3. Looks like you did a fantastic job. It is so hard to coordinate and be depending on people who fail to bother to show up. Looks to me like everything within your control was a success. The negative nellies need to take their turn for the next event! (CARMA/Karma to them) I can’t imagine having to do all the table set up and break down too. I had no idea that even when you rent from an event company there is a lot of physical labor. Give it a few days and look back. You have really been working hard lately with all the events. NO is my favorite word lately! HUGS!!!!

  4. Marie Chandler

    Carole, I commend your efforts. I have a similar situation with my HOA of 31 homes. The same group of neighbors serves year after year on the Board and committees. We have a diverse neighborhood with young families to retirees. As Secretary, I recently sent out a survey to help the hospitality committee plan events. Two responses were received. I am disheartened with the apathy. You did receive some positive feedback for your event so that is good.

  5. Julie

    Maybe you can find an Oktoberfest event for the flags, they’d be sure to appreciate your efforts. People are such complainers. As our program coordinator noted at a club meeting everybody has suggestions but when it comes time for a volunteer to act on them no one comes forward. If you’re not part of the solution you *are* part of the problem. You have identified the issue with the ‘bring a dish to pass’ potluck approach. Your luck runs out when people don’t accept their responsibilities.

  6. This looked like a nice gathering. Lovely tables and food! You and hubbs worked your butts off for the new members and others. The area looks so inviting I am sure most enjoyed the delightful day and meeting new people
    Well, there are always complainers. I hope you two can just remember the great parts, the cars and friends.
    It seems like many people are grumpy these days, over the smallest of changes or upsets.
    the pandemic has made every one crabby.
    Oh well. Push away the negative. It is hurtful to your hearts. Keep enjoying yourselves

  7. Sue Hoover

    Looks and sounds like a wonderful time, even Mother Nature cooperating! There are always a few comments that just need to be dismissed. Make like a duck and let it roll off your back! As for the remaining table decorations, I’d say you’re ready for Octoberfest! Oom! Pa! Pa!

    1. Rheanna

      I agree! The loudest complainers are often those who have never lifted a finger to do any work on events like these. Those who have done the work know how much work it is and have much more empathy.

  8. Rheanna

    Don’t let the negative comments get to you. You are exactly right, some thing are completely out of your control. My dad used to tell me that some people would kick with both legs cut off. Essentially, there is just no pleasing them. You added some very nice touches and it looks like it was a beautiful event.

  9. Joan Sheppard

    I want to fill up a plate too! I remember pot luck dinners/picnics and all the “nibbles” because I don’t ever remember being able to fill a plate. We had cotton tablecloths as a fundraiser – you could sign the tablecloth and “someone” would embroider over your signature for posterity. There were “special” ones that everyone wanted to sit at. Memories, you are building memories. Thanks!

  10. AJ

    Carole, what an awesome job! Your hard work both at the event and all your planning, is obvious when I look at your pictures. It should have been obvious to anyone that attended, too.

    I have learned, whenever I am involved with an event, to only listen to accolades, constructive criticism and problems. I ignore all comments that are not useful. My usual response to people complaining and making other useless comments is, “Thank you for volunteering to host the next event.” (They never do but it gives me satisfaction to see their shocked expressions).

    Most attendees do not take the time to say how much they enjoyed the event. Whenever I attend an event, I try to be a thoughtful attendee and pass my accolades to the event organizers. Just because I might have done things differently, doesn’t give me the right to complain. If there is a “real” problem, then I will mention it in a constructive way so it can be addressed when planning the next event.

    I have become more selective, which events or tasks I volunteer for, The event has to be something that is important to me. My reward is knowing I did my best for a cause that I believe in or care about. Comments that are useful, help me to make my best effort, better.

  11. Grace1927

    Carole, it sounds like a wonderful event! Don’t be disheartened by the negative comments. Remember, you can NEVER please everybody. There are always some that find fault with something. Idea…maybe they should be the ones in charge next year! LOL

  12. That sounds like a wonderful event, and no wonder you were exhausted! You got a lot of commenters saying something about the negative complainers, so I won’t repeat any of that. But you know that most of the people who attended really enjoyed it. You deserve to say no to everything after this!

  13. Mary

    You know you did a great job and from the pictures I see you organised a wonderful luncheon for everybody.
    There will always be ungrateful people because they are always ungrateful. That is their makeup. They are usually the ones who never volunteer for anything because they couldn’t take the criticism that they feel is their right to heap on someone else.
    These people like to knock your confidence. Make you feel inadequate because they are jealous of your ability to turn your hand to the hard jobs.
    The word you must now learn is ‘NO’. Now sit back and enjoy yourself for a little while. :))

  14. Such a big job, and you were running around like you were stung in the tail, it seems. The photos certainly do it justice, lovely food and settings. Such a shame to get last minute cancellations and criticisms when you worked so hard. Be heartened by the positive feedback and give yourselves a pat on the back for a job well done.

  15. Debbie Miller Meyer

    Looks like a wonderful event! I’m sure you did your best to provide everyone with a fun filled day. Some people are never happy and like nothing more than to complain. I always say if you’re not happy, volunteer next time knowing all to well they never will. Learned this from our car clubs events. The get-together in Sept, I make cookies! That’s it! I don’t even tell them I’m doing it!

  16. liz

    Carole: I liked the centerpieces. I am sure there were more positive thoughts than negative. I am glad you saw a bit of the show. Next show you will be able to enjoy it. Liz

  17. That’s a LOT of hard work — especially in the heat. I think your centerpieces are cute and I’m surprised no one wanted to take any home. Dollar stores are great for things like those sprays. The potluck looks delicious but boy — you had to be hurting after all that! Well done, Carole! Now settle back and rest!

  18. Well done you! Too many tables is always better than having to set up another in the middle of the event. After years of doing big events for my job as a state 4-H specialist, I will never ever agree to chair anything! I am content to be a worker bee!

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