Twenty-some years ago, an assortment of friends living in Paris decided to organize a picnic in the Bois de Boulogne and were told to dress in all white so that they could locate each other in the expansive park. The picnic became an annual event, and every year since then, the event has grown larger and more elaborate, so that now, what is known as the Dîner en Blanc has become an international organization hosting flash-mob style “white dinners” in cities all over the world.
When the Dîner en Blanc was featured in a New York Times article last summer, a few intrepid Columbusites decided to throw their own version, but with a mid-western sensibility and giving it a different name. Fête en Blanc, or “white picnic,” adopted many aspects of the original Dîner– an outdoor public picnic at a surprise location and guests clad in all white with feast in tow. However, they put a different spin on the event, opening it to the public (the Parisian Dîner has very stringent, invite-only guest lists), and encouraging Fête-goers to celebrate the food and friendships particular to our city.
The general gist of Fête en Blanc is to wear white; BYOEverything (food, drinks, tables, chairs, linens, décor, etc.); dine and dance under the stars until it’s time to disappear into the night. In other words: a gourmet pop-up picnic. The surprise location is announced the same day via Facebook, Twitter, email, and website.
Last year, Fête en Blanc was a terrific success thanks to the help of the folks at The Columbus Commons, a huge crew of volunteers, the band, and of course, the enthusiastic Fête-goers who dressed to the nines, hauled wagonloads of food, and brought boundless creativity to their table décor. The cool, rainy evening and a fair amount of soggy grass couldn’t stop the celebration, as more than 214 guests ate and danced to the tunes of The Randys under the shelter of a large circus tent.
This year, Fête en Blanc is focused even more intently on celebrating Columbus’ wonderful food scene with collaborations between local markets and food purveyors. The Hills Market in Powell and Huffman’s Market in Upper Arlington have created local-driven, French-inspired “picnic packages” for those who might not have time to cook. Fête-goers can purchase meals directly from each store and pick them up at a distribution point at the venue. Pistacia Vera in German Village also is developing a signature Macaron en Blanc for the occasion.
What’s new in 2012?
Fête en Blanc has added a charitable component and is making a donation from proceeds to Local Matters, a Columbus non-profit dedicated to making healthy, local food accessible to all members of our community.
A limited edition market tote is available for purchase when ordering tickets online, or at Huffman’s Market.
A prize will be given for “La Table Magnifique.” Because of last year’s unbridled creativity in both food and table décor, Fête is offering the person (or group) with the most splendid table a lovely surprise.
Tickets are pre-purchase only. No tickets will be sold at the door.
In the years to come, this annual summer picnic hopes to grow and share the wealth of good friendships and good food our city has to offer. Bonne santé!
Fête en Blanc is a non-profit event, organized by Genevieve Reiner, Shawnie Kelley Foy, and Mandy Jones.
More information can be found online at www.FeteEnBlanc.com.