Last Saturday’s forecast predicted a high of 76°F, low of 64°F, and a 60 percent chance of precipitation.
Of the weather deemed most desirable for an open-porched morning brunch, that was indubitably not.
That, however, didn’t hinder the third annual Summerfest at the Youth Activities Center, sponsored by the NOW Generation. The event is an all-inclusive gathering, an opportunity to herd fatigued competitors from the Old First Night Run, famished passersby or any garden-variety Chautauquan on their morning constitutional, to indulge in good company.
Keeping busy wasn’t difficult.
Guest guitarist Ryan Melquist serenaded the hungry guests in a light ambiance of reggae and indie rock as they fraternized and ate with friends and family. The atmosphere was genial, rejuvenated in part by the cool air from the morning shower. Many toddlers of the families split their time between molding Play-Doh and frolicking in freshly fashioned puddles.
To appease growling appetites, splayed out over a sheeted ping-pong table were a prepared assortment of fruits, bagels, orange juice, muffins and pound cake, courtesy of the longtime proprietor and director of the YAC, Al Dibs.
Propped conveniently at the entrance of Boys’ and Girls’ Club, the white walls of the YAC are impossible to miss. A known hangout for young Chautauquans, it’s also a place where they can grab a quick bite to eat, play some table tennis or just rest their sore, wandering feet.
“Most of the NOW Gen at one time or another were all YACers, so having the Summerfest here seemed a natural fit for their return,” Dibs said.
Tara McKiernan, a graduate of Villanova University and Gabriella Salva, a graduate of Duke University, are both former Clubbers, counselors at Club and new members of the NOW Gen. Now busy working in New York City, McKiernan and Salva utilize the NOW Gen as a social network, enabling them to connect to people they grew up with, many of whom they might not normally see.
But mostly for them, it acts as a reliable outlet back to Chautauqua Institution, an expedient extension to a place that has meant dearly much to their youth and overall life experiences.
“The NOW Gen allows us to foster the community that is Chautauqua, making sure its legacy lives on, to give back to a place that gave us so much,” McKiernan said. “And, well, to eat some muffins and bagels.”