Countywide Picnic

10 Steps to a Great Picnic

Putting on the countywide 4-H Picnic is no small task. This will be my third year chairing this event, and I hope that I can pass along useful information to those who come after me. This picnic is a favorite event for many, and a great way to relax and just have some fun before fair kicks off.

The committee needs to be formed prior to beginning these 10 steps.

Step 1: Pick a date

The date of the picnic has traditionally been the August council meeting. The evening ends with teens who went to summer events presenting about their experiences. They must do this in order to receive their scholarships. This is also the meeting where council officers are nominated. There is sometimes a little more business to cover, but its usually related to fair.

Step 2: Choose the location

The shelter at Hovander Park is a great location with every amenity needed - picnic tables, food prep area, grills, cleaning supplies, janitorial service, and bathrooms. For only $155 for a whole weekday, it's a deal that can't be beat. However, if other locations are found that are better, go for it! The 4-H Horse Park will one day be a great location and free, but for now, the amount of work that has to be put in for preparation is too much.

Step 3: Attend a Council meeting and make a motion (December Council Meeting)

The motion should go something like this… "I move to hold the annual picnic on the first Monday of August from 4PM to 9PM at Hovander Park at a cost not to exceed $155 for facilities and $100 for food." It must then go through the process of a second, discussion, and a vote, but this has not been a problem in the past. Be sure to keep all receipts! You will be reimbursed at the picnic. Also, verify the cost for the location prior to the council meeting, and the treasurer can give a check made out to the venue the night the motion is approved.

Step 4: Recruit your helpers

Ask leaders and members of other clubs to assist that day. The council sponsors the event and should be available to assist with prep leading up to the event.

Step 5: Plan the menu, make a list of needs, and solicit donations (April/May)

Local businesses such as Haggen, Cost Cutter, and tons more love helping out for events like this. All you have to do is ask. Each business has a different time line, but they usually have a form to fill out and turn back in. You will also usually need the county's tax ID number to prove non-profit status. Michael Wallace or the treasurer should be able to get that information to you. Don't wait until mid-July to do this. Donations typically need to be requested 30-90 days before the event.

Step 6: Promote the event (June/July)

Getting people to park is a huge part of making the event successful. Plan your promotion activities with email, the county Facebook page, or by personally going to clubs to invite them. The latter makes the most difference. A good team makes this easy work. Also, posters and photography are due in July for fair. Having a small 1/4 page flyer to give to 4-H'ers turning in exhibits is a great way to promote.

The event promotion should not only include the normal invite information (date, time, place, etc) but also what you need people to bring. This is a family, potluck event, so everyone will need to bring a covered dish, and if they have an outdoor game they can bring, that's even better. Require an RSVP by a specific date. Plan food and supplies according to this number.

Step 7: Shopping (Week of event)

In the past, most businesses have donated gift cards, so you and your team will need to do the shopping. See the list below for an example of a past budget and shopping list.

Step 8: Set up the venue (Day of event)

At Hovander, the shelter belongs to the group all day, open to close. It is nice to drop off things early, make an assessment, and go back out if needed. However, I have had things stolen when I left them there, so be aware of this before leaving. Setting up games, like volleyball nets, and decorating takes time. Also, if you are grilling, you will need time to get the food going before hungry people start showing up.

Step 9: Relax and Enjoy the Picnic!

Once everyone has arrived and the food is out, people get happy with full bellies. Just enjoy yourself. The council will run the business meeting, so all you have to do is eat and play.

Step 10: Clean Up

Make sure that all garbage and recycling is in the proper receptacles, and make sure that everything is put back according to venue specifications. Hovander Park will pick up all the garbage, but they ask that tables are put back according to the posted guide and that counters are wiped down. There is a list - it's simple to follow.

That's it! Not too much, but the day before and morning of the event will be hectic. Make sure you manage your time appropriately. And remember that everyone is just there to eat and have fun. If you have food and games, people will be satisfied.

Example list:
60 people RSVP'd
Haggen donation $50 gift card
Cost Cutter donation $25 gift card
Menu main dish - Barbecue Chicken

List of supplies:
Charcoal, lighter, newspaper, chimney
Chicken (make sure chicken is fully thawed and fabricated prior to the event, I speak from experience)
Barbecue Sauce & brush for applying
Cooler and Ice for transporting chicken
Heat proof gloves
2-3 people to man the grill (they need to know what they are doing at the grill. not a one person job, and must be dedicated to this task only)
Disposable plates, utensils, napkins
Variety of canned sodas and bottled water
More coolers and ice for drinks

This is what we have done in the past, but grilled hot dogs might be way easier, cheaper, and fun! Just make sure that you include in your list all the extras like mustard, onions, ketchup, relish, chili, etc, etc. Every region has their own spin on dogs - maybe include an ingredients list so people can make their own and try how they are made in other places.

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