Sunday in the Park Takes Al Fresco Dining to a Gorgeous New Level

For 32 years, Sunday in the Park has been a beloved fall tradition benefiting Friends of Warner Parks, and this year was extra special. Building on the success of 2020’s drive-thru version due to the pandemic, co-chairs Julie Dretler and Polly Ryerson returned to Ridge Field in Edwin Warner Park with a clever hybrid event that kept everyone’s safety in mind. Those who wanted to stay enjoyed a delightful open-air luncheon, and those who wanted to dine at home or elsewhere in the Warner Parks drove through to pick up their meals.

This modified version of the popular al fresco luncheon captured the magic of the past in a most enchanting way. On the sunny autumn afternoon, guests were awed by the sight as they drove into Ridge Field. In lieu of the traditional big tent, tables laden with seasonal blooms and bars dressed up with towering arrangements dotted the grounds. It was hard to believe that less than three hours earlier the field was barren, because everything looked perfect in the bucolic setting.

The only tents on the grounds were quite the draw for attendees. At one, they picked up Kristen Winston’s delicious, fall-inspired picnic sacks packed with Joyce Farms chicken, orzo with roasted vegetables and pumpkin spice cake. At the other, they got the first look at the Friends’ newly released book, A History of Nashville’s Warner Parks, and chatted with a few of its contributors.

The afternoon was a huge success, with 525 people choosing to picnic and 165 opting for the drive-thru. Now, more than ever, the Warner Parks are truly our “Sanctuary in the City,” providing an escape for so many during the pandemic. Funds raised from Sunday in the Park and the book support Friends of Warner Parks’ mission to preserve and protect the Warner Parks through educational programming and maintenance of the parks and their historical structures.