AS WINTER WAS WINDING down and the evidence of springtime began to sprout up from the ground, Cattails & Cocktails Co-Chairs Marie Woods and Michelle Taubensee travelled to the grounds of the Mellody Farm Nature Preserve to take a look around at the beauty surrounding them.
“Personally, the open lands have saved us within the pandemic,” explains Woods. “If we were not already acutely aware of how important connecting to the outdoors is, and having a nearby place to do so, we certainly are now. It enriches us and energizes us and ultimately, it soothes us.”
Following a pandemic in which so many clung to the hope found within the wonders of nature, the importance of the nearly 800 acres of open space throughout our community—including woodlands, wetlands, and several rare and globally significant prairies, ravines, and savannas—has never been more evident. And it is this realization that will be celebrated during the upcoming Lake Forest Open Lands’ Cattails & Cocktails event.
“We didn’t want to let the ball drop,” explains Taubensee of the much-anticipated annual spring event hosted by the Associate Board of Lake Forest Open Lands. “It was an absolute adventure planning through every possible scenario while getting creative, thinking of new ways to look at this event in light of the ongoing pandemic. But we had a ball doing it.”
Indeed, this year’s Cattails & Cocktails setup will be unlike anything offered in the fundraiser’s long and illustrious history— with a number of unique ways in which interested partygoers can participate.
“Offering a mix of live and at-home events over a series of days gives us this unique opportunity to reach more people in a myriadof ways,” explains Woods.
One of the ways will be an in-person, two-night event option titled An Evening on the Prairie that will offer partygoers a chance to dine on the prairie on either Friday, May 21 and Saturday, May 22 from 6pm to 10pm. Each ticket will provide a party of 10 with the ability to not only enjoy dinner and drinks courtesy of Lake Bluff ’s The OtherDoor, but to do it under their own private tent, illuminated by one’s own fire pit.
“We will offer eight pods each night,” explains Taubensee of the setup she describes as an elevated backyard event. “The pods are not only going to offer partygoers that chance to mingle within their own space, but as COVID-19 guidelines possibly loosen closer to the event, it will also offer a scenario where more people will be able to socialize with each other safely.”
For those looking to stay a bit closer to home, there will also be Cattails @ Home, an in-home option where partygoers will be invited to enjoy an intimate dining experience featuring a delectable array of offerings from The OtherDoor anytime between Thursday, May 20 to Sunday, May 23.
“The ability to order your meal, pick it up, and then return home to enjoy it with friends and family is something that we believe many people will appreciate,” says Woods.
This year’s event will also include a bit of a reimagined online auction, with activities that can be done and utilized within one’s home, from private dinners to customized yoga sessions to one of a kind art pieces.
“As everything shut down last year, the open lands stayed open the entire time,” concludes Taubensee. “And it was here in which our community found refuge. It’s time that we take the time to celebrate that.”
For more information about Lake Forest Open Lands Association and the upcoming Cattails & Cocktails fundraiser, please visit lfola.org.