One could say with twenty-something pets between my girlfriend and I, we have some type of family. It’s certainly not one we would bring to a family event. With multiple pets having more than four legs and teeth or stingers, I’m sure it would end in panic, screaming, and fire. So when we heard about the Charleston Museum’s Annual Family Picnic on October 25th, we brought along a couple of human friends to the afternoon event instead.
Though we often stay away from family events, the Charleston Museum’s emails piqued my interest. Pretty much when you promise good southern picnic food and Palmetto Brewing beer—I’m sold. Plus, having previously witnessed the awe-inspiring vistas of the Dill Sanctuary at the Museum’s oyster roast, I had wanted to attend another event there for some time. The gorgeous location seems almost like cheating in terms of event space since the natural charm of the Lowcountry sells itself. Wide-open areas for the numerous activities were nice, but you could tuck yourself away in the shadows of the oaks if the afternoon sun grew a little too strong.
Upon arriving and walking to the picnic area, I was greeted by a Red-Tailed Hawk that dragged its wing across my leg as it swooped low and upwards to the Birds of Prey handler who brought it. A favorite for kids and adults alike, the demonstrations put on by these folks are something I always try to catch at SEWE, so I was glad to have a more intimate view of the creatures at the less-packed picnic.
We headed for the food in the quaint and nostalgic “cabin” dwelling between the trees, but stopped just short at Palmetto’s mobile beer station. I grabbed up a glass of their Peach Shandy and spoke with the brewery beer guru, Collin, before my friends slowly slipped away to hop in the food line. Much like my visit to the Dill Sanctuary during the Annual Oyster Roast, I found conversation easy. Even though we didn’t have a table of clustered, steaming oysters to crowd around, everyone was laid back and enjoying themselves enough to mingle wherever they seemed to fit. After grabbing another Peach Shandy (which seemed to disappear rather quickly due to demand) I managed to make a plate of fried chicken, deliciously baked mac & cheese, veggies, cornbread, etc. to demolish within minutes.
In between mingling and eating there was a pumpkin raffle, which I disappointingly did not win, and nature walks around the sanctuary started a little later in the day. In addition, family and kid-centric things like face painting, an SCDNR touch tank and other activities were available all day. While I don't have kids myself, I imagine it’s got to be a relief to be in such a relaxed setting where kids can be kids, that’s also fun for parents.
During the entire event music echoed through the trees from The Allen Kinney Project as well, adding a bit of liveliness to the serene sanctuary.
I mentioned the all-inclusive perks of beer and wine earlier in my description, and I’m sure that might throw someone off when reading about a family event. Maybe it was the class or maybe the crowd but it definitely wasn’t a scene where anyone over imbibed. Despite Charleston’s reputation as a drinking city, many folks seem to understand the importance of leaving a good impression, especially in a family setting, and the picnic was no different. Some of the crowd was older but at the $25 all-inclusive price tag, I can’t imagine it won’t bring increasingly diverse crowds as the years progress.
Sundays have always been hard for me. Mondays are all about going back to my daily grind, and Sundays are always a grim reminder of that for me. It's an unhappy medium—floating just out of reach of the weekend as the countdown to work was winding down – the sooner you sleep the sooner you work. Even after Charleston brunches, that countdown doesn’t stop – and that’s where the Charleston Museum makes an impact. A beautiful afternoon beneath hanging moss is one thing, but to be in the presence of great people to share some food and drinks with at this event, was magical. The event is truly a panacea for the Sunday doldrums, at least one day out of the year.