Despite the wind and drizzle of earlier in the day, about 100 people turned up for the concert.
As the wind died down, the attendance picked up at the first Longboat Key Chamber of Commerce Savor the Sounds of 2022. On Jan. 22, the day was turning out grey, chilly and wet. Although the chill didn't go away, about 100 people came out on the wintry Florida day to enjoy the music of Doug Deming and the Jewel Tones, a blues band from Detroit that got people dancing on the grass of Town Center Green.
The idea of Savor the Sounds is for attendees to put their best outdoor dining gear forward for an elegant picnic on the green. With varying definitions of the perfect picnic, Longboaters turned out with a mix of real wineglasses, plastic plates and carefully packed snacks for the night.
Bob and Carol Erker brought their "Ravinia" table for Savor the Sounds, thus bringing a touch of Chicago down south. Ravinia Festival is a musical event north of Chicago, where the Erkers are from, that emphasizes the picnic aspect. Carol Erker said people at Ravinia, like Savor the Sounds, set up elegant picnics for the summer series and even bring candelabras to light the night. For Savor the Sounds, the Erkers kept their setup simple — plastic poolside wineglasses and chips and cheese.
Reva Jackson, who purchased a VIP table for some of her clients at Cadence Bank, went for the Publix aesthetic for the concert. Her original plan had been to make packaged meals for each guest with chicken salad sandwiches on croissants and multiple sides. When the day dawned grey and damp, she worried it might get canceled. As the day improved, however, she headed to Publix just a stone's throw from Town Center Green and picked up plates, plastic goblets, trays of sandwiches and desserts. She even picked up a sunflower centerpiece to complete the warm picnic aesthetic.
"Good ol' Publix saves us in a pinch," Jackson said.
Lisa Dexter cooked the whole meal for her table. The table was decked out with delicious appetizers including spinach dip, shrimp (packed neatly in a temperature-moderating Yeti tumbler), chicken tikka with mint dip and vegetables. For dessert, Dexter and her crew planned on digging into a pineapple upside down cake with homemade whipped cream. There were even real wineglasses for their drinks and a package of Andes mints to cleanse their palettes between courses.
"We came to party and eat," she said.
Everything had been carefully packed in coolers into the car on the way over. Dips were carefully poured into single-serve containers, the meats were packed into Yeti tumblers to keep them cold and warm and there were even bundles of napkin-wrapped silverware closed with the twist ties from old coffee bags. The food was the centerpiece at the Dexter table, and the containers took up most of the table so guests could easily scoop a second serving onto clear plastic plates.
Sandy Smith from sponsor Secur-All struck a balance between elegant and casual with her dinner of takeout pizza and salad from Pattelini's Pizza in downtown Sarasota paired with a set of real champagne glasses for their drinks.
"Solo is good for beer, but not for champagne," Smith said.
She brought four pizzas and offered slices to those wandering around the concert, even if they weren't at her table.
Jenny Casch from WrightWay brought clients to the concert and went all out with her elegant picnic aesthetic. She brought a tablecloth for the tablecloth, two orchids, a decorative lighting fixture that was seatbelted into the car and a large charcuterie board. She said she packed and repacked her work car twice that day to get her strategy down.
"The food was the most difficult (to transport)," Casch said.
The charcuterie board was the star of the show and her guests quickly dug in. Casch took care to bring only non-breakable items, including plastic wineglasses and plates, but it didn't take away from the heightened aesthetic of the table.
Another set of Chicagoans took a page out of their old book for their Savor the Sounds setup; Maureen Merrigan said her group put their table together based on their jaunts to Millennium Park for festivals. There were trays of sushi (from Publix, of course) and sandwiches for easy snacking, precut vegetables and a quick charcuterie board for the table's many guests to grab. Wendi Bundy brought more lighting to add as it got dark, so their table glowed and lit the way for more snacking throughout the evening.
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