“It’s definitely one of the best parties in Lake Forest every year,” says Jim Dean from the Associate Board of Lake Forest Open Lands. “From a bourbon tasting to a preview of the ‘Go Native! Plant and Tree Sale,’ it’s always such a great summer night, and we face due west so you get the sunset.”
This May marks the third annual Cattails and Cocktails-An Evening Under the Stars event at Mellody Farm Nature Preserve in Lake Forest. As in years prior, attendees can expect a premium bourbon tasting by Beam Suntory, a BBQ dinner, signature Prairie Punch cocktails, an auction, live music, and dancing outdoors against a gorgeous prairie backdrop.
That backdrop is an example of precisely what draws so many people to serve on the Associate Board of Open Lands. The mission of Open Lands since 1967, to protect and maintain more than 800 acres of diverse natural landscape including woodlands, wetlands, prairies, ravines, and savannahs, is an aim close to the hearts of many in our community. They’re spaces remembered by generations of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff families.
“I grew up on West Laurel road, and I have countless memories tramping through the woods back there,” says Trevor Wood, a member of the Associate Board. “I’ve been volunteering on the board for nine months now and I’m having a blast. Obviously, I feel strongly about the land we represent.”
Although the members of the Associate Board are invaluable as volunteers working fundraising events like Cattails and Cocktails in the spring and Bagpipes and Bonfire in the autumn, they also have the opportunity to get out of the boardroom and really interact with the landscapes they’re helping to protect.
“I loved being outside as a kid growing up in Lake Forest, and as an adult living here I’ve hiked through all the Open Land preserves,” Dean says. “When I moved back, I wanted to get involved in some type of charity and my two main criteria were to make a high impact on the community and to be aligned with my interests. Lake Forest Open Lands was a pretty easy decision.”
“There’s not a lot of opportunity for men to volunteer in that way,” says Paula Clair, Vice President and Director of Development at Lake Forest Open Lands. “They can be on a board and go to meetings, but they’re in meetings all day long, so it’s nice that they can embrace that physical side and contribute to the community. The men on our Associate Board, like Jim and Trevor, are putting their actions with their words. It’s really nice to see.”
Also at the May 13 event, attendees have early access to the all the wonderful native grasses, wildflowers, shrubs, and trees offered in the “Go Native! Plant & Tree Sale,” that opens the following morning on March 14. They offer starter kits for various environmental interests, like a Woodland Ravine Starter Kit, a Semi-shade Savannah Starter Kit, and a Bird & Butterfly Starter Kit, and a wide variety of native shrubs and trees. And this year’s Cattails and Cocktails celebration is extending their hours for the first time. So, grab your willies and don your outdoor chic attire for some dancing and spirits under the stars.
For more information visit lfola.org/cattails-cocktails. Forest & Bluff is proud to once again serve as a media sponsor for Cattails and Cocktails.