Community Picnic – Community Owned

Each year, the Community Picnic sees an increase in residents and organizations contributing time, money, goods or services. This year’s picnic partners helped ensure the success of the picnic, proving that good things happen in our community – rain or shine.

“One of the great things about our community is that we’re seeing more and more people active in making community decisions and participating and volunteering. We had so many restaurants come forward with beautiful products,” said Amy Scheide, owner of Great Expectations and a Community Picnic Food Co-Chair. “We did the potato salad, but various restaurants created everything from slaws to pasta salads, all with local farm materials.”

This year, Family Natural Foods created a slaw using all local ingredients coming from a 30-mile radius, according to Stephen Hittner, co-owner of Family Natural Foods.

“We had a lot of fun getting the ingredients. Some of it came very easily for us because we work with local farmers at our store. We couldn’t find a few ingredients from local farmers, so we went to the Farmers Market. Incourage set it up for us, which made it really easy,” Hittner said.

Other community partners include the hundreds of volunteers who make this huge effort possible. This year, they also saw the resiliency of residents, who didn’t let rain stop them from gathering and having fun. Richard Antinoja was a picnic volunteer.

“I was a runner for the corn stations. For two hours we ran steady and it was amazing,” Antinoja said, adding, “I think this is a great community, because people stood in the rain the whole time and nobody was crabby. It was amazing! I love this community!”

Picnic partners have different reasons for participating, but all recognize the importance of sharing their talents to build and strengthen our community.

Katrina Hittner, co-owner of Family Natural Foods, explained, “It makes a person feel more connected. Take our slaw, for example. Not everybody got to taste it, but we served part of the community. We’re feeling even more connected by partnering with Incourage. It was a great experience. I’d definitely do it again next year.”

For Jessi Billington, General Manager of Wisconsin Rapids’ Burger King, a strong community is built through involvement and people’s interaction with each other. “It’s important for people to be involved in their community because it’s all about karma. If you help people, they’re going to help you.”

Residents who feel a sense of ownership are essential in shaping a community that works well for all.

“It’s just people coming together to collaborate and make the community the best they can,” says Doug King, co-owner of Blu Play Café. “I think that with the different things happening, it’s becoming a community that people want to live in and be a part of. We just need to continue to grow and strengthen that.”