Alumni Association prepares for Great American Picnic’s return, silent auction

Chautauquans get food, browse used books, and play family games during last summer’s Great American Picnic, held July 17, 2022, on front lawn of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall. Dylan Townsend/Daily File Photo

Kaitlyn Finchler
Staff writer

Celebratory food, drinks, face painting, music and games can be expected with the return of the Great American Picnic.

Hosted by the Alumni Association of the CLSC each year, the picnic features a silent auction and — new this year — a 40-ticket raffle for a fully-furnished Victorian-era dollhouse. The event is set for noon Sunday on the front lawn outside of the Literary Arts Center at Alumni Hall. A presale ran throughout Week Three, but raffle tickets are still available.

“The goal for the auction is to provide scholarship money,” said Carol Benroth, co-chair of the silent auction and sales. “(The scholarships) are for teachers, librarians and (high school) students.”

A fully-furnished Victorian doll house is up for auction as part of the Alumni Association of the CLSC’s fundraising event. Carrie Legg/Staff Photographer

The Circle Scholarships program selects four recipients from Chautauqua County each year to receive a four-year grant, which includes a one-week class through the Chautauqua Writers’ Center, a parking pass, a gate pass and funds to purchase Chautauqua Literary and Science Circle books.

“We (will also) have some remarks from people who have felt their lives were changed by being able to be exposed to the classes here,” Benroth said. 

For the silent auction, items range from artwork to collectibles, linens and antiques, plus a collection of almost 190 pieces of Fiesta dishes made between the 1930s and 1950s.

The items are a “step above a rummage sale,” yet “affordable,” Benroth said.

“We take all things that we think are of quality and interest,” she said.

All of the money raised goes to the Alumni Association, which then gets funneled into scholarships and back into the Institution. 

Items can be bought outright without placing a bid until 2:30 p.m. Sunday.


The author Kaitlyn Finchler

Kaitlyn Finchler is a journalism and public relations graduate from Kent State University as of May. This will be her second summer at Chautauqua where she will cover literary arts, serving previously as the Interfaith Lecture Series preview reporter. In her free time, you can find her reading, cooking or flipping between “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Gossip Girl.” She’s most excited to see how many times she can slip the word “plethora” into her stories before Sara makes her stop again.