Six days after the world celebrates Cinco de Mayo, members of the Associate Board of Lake Forest Open Lands Association (LFOLA) will invite the community to enjoy a similarly lively evening of tacos, tequila tasting, and a mariachi band in what promises to be a fresh twist on its annual spring fundraiser.
This year’s Friday, May 11 Cattails & Cocktails event at the Mellody Farm Nature Preserve in Lake Forest—billed as “Fiesta on the Prairie”—aims to draw in a hip, young demographic with a different menu and new extended hours.
“In keeping with the fun and festive spirit of the event, mixing things up with a Mexican theme seemed like a perfect fit. Being a local organization, we jumped at the chance to partner with The Other Door in Lake Bluff for our catering,” explains Lauren Hirsh, who is co-chairing the event with fellow Lake Forester Angela Rode. “Cattails was originally meant to be a relaxed cocktail party on the prairie, but we found that attendees loved it so much that they stayed with us way past the end of the event. With that in mind, we’ve extended the event time to make the most of the evening.”
Rode says this spring’s “it” event will also feature even more live auction items to Wellie-wearing guests to bid on while enjoying the delicious food, premium bar drinks, and live entertainment by Jukebox Heroes. Notable auction entries include an opportunity to bid on the coveted “Lighting of the Bonfire” at Bagpipes & Bonfire on September 30, a private dinner for eight, and an instant wine cellar. The Native Tree and Plant Sale will also take place throughout the night.
“For the younger Associate Board, this is our signature fundraiser,” says Rode, who got involved with LFOLA about two years ago when her daughters participated in youth summer camps. “Lake Forest Opens Lands has many activities for all the new millennial families migrating to our community. Cattails & Cocktails has a young vibe with outdoor chic attire. It’s held rain or shine on our prairie under a tent, and is a great introduction to the organization and a chance to meet fellow supporters.”
Hirsh, who grew up in Lake Forest but has lived in Lake Bluff for the last eight years, says she and her husband, Jason Hirsh, have made LFOLA a “family passion.”
“Our daughters have enjoyed Lake Forest Open Lands Association’s phenomenal education programs for many years so my husband and I were both inspired to get more involved with the organization,” she explains. “He and I are both on the Associate Board. This will be my third year and his first.”
LFOLA has also become a family affair for Rode. Beyond her daughters’ participation in summer camps, she and her husband hike the trails as a family with their dog.
“I fell in love with the accessibility for trails and beauty,” she says of the more than 800 acres of open space and more than 12 miles of walking trails that LFOLA manages. “This is the second year that both Lauren and I have a hand in Cattails & Cocktails. I have never hosted any other event for Open Lands, but have participated in many activities—including Bagpipes & Bonfire and the Native Plant and Tree Sale.”
Proceeds for Cattails & Cocktails support LFOLA’s conservation efforts and environmental education programming. Since 1967, the independently funded organization has worked to ensure that all generations have a meaningful, lasting connection to these open lands in our midst.
“One of the goals of the LFOLA Associate Board is to reach out to young families in the community and provide them with an opportunity to connect with the land,” adds Hirsh. “Our Cattails & Cocktails event has always drawn a wide spectrum of guests, but we hope that the relaxed atmosphere and relatively low ticket price with inspire support for generations to come.”
This year’s Cattails & Cocktails’ “Fiesta on the Prairie,” will be held from 6:30 to 10 p.m. at Mellody Farm Nature Preserve at Lake Forest Open Lands’ Conservation Campus, 350 N. Waukegan Road, Lake Forest. For more information about tickets and sponsorship opportunities, call 847-234-3880, ext. 17, or email [email protected] For more information about Lake Forest Open Lands Association, visit lfola.org.