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Picnic en Blanc Offers Novel Fun in Nontraditional Setting
Thursday, April 18, 2019


Louise Isaacs is recruiting some picnickers. And ants don’t count because they won’t wear white.

Isaacs is organizing her third annual Picnic en Blanc Wood River, or Picnic in White, at a yet-undisclosed location. It won’t be held until Sept. 21. But if you want to be invited, it’s best to get on the wait list now.

“Part of the idea is to meet new friends,” said Isaacs, who runs Daisy’s Workshop, which aseembles groups to create handcrafted accessories.

Isaacs’ Picnic en Blanc was inspired by Diner en Blanc, a worldwide event in which people gather in a public space and set up a temporary, rather elegant, dining area. It began in Paris in 1988 when a Frenchman invited friends to an elegant outdoor dinner at Bois de Boulogne park, asking them to dress in white so they could find one another.

“Bring a meal, and bring a new friend,” he exhorted his friends.

Fifteen thousand diners gathered for the 25th anniversary of the event in Paris in 2013. And it has caught on around the world.

Thousands of diners have gathered outside the Sydney Opera House, lined boulevards in Paris and set up dinner tables in the historic old town of Montreal. Such events have found their way to such venues as Bombay, Panama City, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Seoul and Cote d’Ivoire.

Philadelphia has seen as many as 30,000 people vying for 5,000 seats. The Redwood City Parks and Arts Foundation in California hosted a Picnic en Blanc as a fundraiser for a children’s playground, And Vancouver had so many people jostling to participate that a break-off group hosted its own Ce Soir Noir or Dinner in Black.

Isaacs started hers two years ago.

“I love the tradition and I thought it would be fun to do,” she said. “It’s very social and a great way to meet new people.”

The event is meant to be a nontraditional picnic in a nontraditional setting. Last year Isaacs organized the picnic at Roberta McKercher Park in view of cars entering and departing Hailey. The year before it took place on Hailey’s courthouse lawn.

“It’s meant to be in a public place. It’s intended for passersby to take note and realize, ‘Hey something different is going on here,’ ” she said.

Guests come dressed in white, toting gourmet food and nice wine. They bring their own tables, chairs and tablecloths, as well. And guests are expected to conduct themselves with the utmost decorum, elegance and etiquette.

“Everything has to be white and glamorous,” said Isaacs. “No paper plates—it has to be china. And you can’t show up in camouflage.”


Last year two dozen guests took part. They arrived promptly at 5—almost like a flash mob scene. They  set up their tables and topped them with an array of foods, including salmon, steak and sushi. Food and drink is the one thing that doesn’t have to be white.

“There’s a prize for the nicest table so each year the tables get more elaborate,” Isaacs said. “We had some people last year that erected gazebos over their tables.”

Following the picnic, guests take part in outdoor games including scavenger hunts.

“We’ve even had sparklers at the end of the meal,” Isaacs said.

As in the past, the place of this year’s dinner will be kept secret until the last minute. That’s done in part to procure a large enough site to accommodate all those who wish to attend.

Those who have attended before have first dibs. Friends invited by previous attendees have next dibs. But Isaacs’ reservation list will give newcomers the opportunity to attend this year, as well.

The 2019 Picnic en Blanc will be held from 5 to 9 p.m. Sept. 21. Tickets to the event are $35 per couple to cover incidentals and event insurance. To learn more, visit

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