Though summer officially started this past Wednesday, I always feel the unofficial start to summer is the last Sunday in June, when Morris Arts holds its annual Music & Arts Festival featuring the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra at Giralda Farms on Madison Avenue in Madison. This event has the quintessential summer feel — families picnicking together on the expansive lawn at Giralda, kids playing games on the grass with friends, and adults chatting and sipping wine, all while listening to the beautiful tunes of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. Doesn’t get much better than that!
This year, the event is this Sunday, June 25, 2017. Gates open for picnics and activities at 4pm, and the concert begins at 6pm. In addition to music, there will be an art show and sale, the Montclair Art Museum Art truck, children’s book readings and signings, and a 50/50 raffle to benefit the Morris Arts’ scholarship program. You can purchase tickets for the concert at the entrance when you drive in: $20 for adults, $5 for kids under 12. In the case of rain, the concert and picnicking will be held at Mennen Arena, but the weather this year looks to be perfect!
If you plan to go, be sure to bring your own lawn chairs or blankets, in addition to your drinks and food. If you are really ambitious, you can even have your picnic judged by the Morris Arts group to vie for one of the several prizes, including theater tickets and gift cards to local shops! Some picnics are tame, while others go all out with themed decorations and food. Throughout the years, I’ve seen everything from an English-themed tea party, complete with china tea cups and fascinator hats, to a band of pirates all wearing full pirate outfits! It is fun to see what people come up with! When I called Morris Arts to see what they look for when they are judging the picnics, they noted fun themes and originality always score well. If you want your picnic to be judged, be sure to stop by the Morris Arts booth to let them know.
Over the years, I’ve gathered several memories of the event. My favorite was the year of the 17-year locusts! The area around Giralda seemed to have the largest population of locusts, but their appearance didn’t affect the show — we just stepped carefully around the ones on the grass, and enjoyed when their buzzing was in time with the orchestra! Another year, my kids caught frogs along the stream by the lawn, and spent most of the concert chasing after kickballs. Last year we decided to go at the last minute, and set up our picnic under a big tree. Once we unfolded our chairs, we looked around to see if we could spot anyone we knew, and quickly realized that we had planted ourselves right among several families from our kids’ school, including one of our son’s good friends. As we wandered the grounds to check out the art exhibits and buy ice cream from the old-fashioned ice cream truck, we came across several other families from our school and synagogue. We are planning on going this Sunday, and might even attempt a themed picnic. We’ll see if we can get our creative juices flowing. Even if we don’t have a winning picnic, I know that we will have a beautiful evening with family and friends.