CLSC Alumni Association’s annual Great American Picnic to feed, entertain


Sophie Van Seventer, 10, swings a mallet down toward the lever of the high striker game at the 2010 CLSC Great American Picnic. Daily file photo.

Aaron Krumheuer | Staff Writer

What better way to celebrate the midpoint of the summer than with a Great American Picnic?

The Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle Alumni Association once again will host the annual get-together from noon to 3 p.m. Sunday on the front lawn of Alumni Hall. It’s a fundraiser and a Chautauqua-wide block party with plenty of food, music, entertainment and fun.

“It’s a labor of love,” said Dick Karslake, president of the CLSC Alumni Association and member of the Class of 1999.

Held annually since 1980, the picnic has grown every year. The CLSC Class of 2010 is responsible for organizing it this year, but members from all classes join in to help serve and prepare the massive amounts of food.

The Thursday Morning Brass Band will perform, and a brand new bike from the Jamestown Cycle Shop will be offered as a raffle prize.  There will be a juggler and games for kids like a bean bag toss, putt-putt challenge and “the old ring the bell with the mallet,” a crowd favorite, Karslake said.

For those curious about their future, the mysterious fortune teller Madame Davide will again make an appearance.

Like any good picnic, it’s the food that takes center stage. The CLSC Alumni Association will cook up hot dogs and serve baked beans, potato salad, watermelon, soda and lemonade, some of which is donated by the Athenaeum Hotel, Lighthouse Point Grocery and Tops Friendly Markets. All food transactions will be paid for with tickets, which are on sale at the picnic, and there will also be a bake sale.

“The proceeds go toward the maintenance of Alumni Hall and other activities of the CLSC Alumni Association, which is of course in support of the general CLSC and thereby, Chautauqua,” Karslake said.

In case the weather turns sour, the rain date is July 24, but Karslake predicted that “if it rains on Sunday, it will pause long enough for us to have our picnic.”