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Annual event at Hills & Dales sees big turnout, great weather

Whether it was an elaborate picnic display or a simple brown bag, families entering the Hill & Dales estate Saturday were set for a good lunch and an even better time.

Hill & Dales hosted its 14th annual Picnic in the Garden Saturday, earning the support of over 100 visitors and families who were glad to be out and about outside in the pre-summer weather with friends and family.

Inspired by the random picnics put on in the 1900s by the ground’s original owner, Fuller E. Callaway, the event’s purpose is to create a free, family-friendly atmosphere around the estate, said Haley Merciers, the program coordinator for Hills & Dales.

In recent years, the event has had a turbulent time due to weather and was canceled last year due to the pandemic.

However, the staff of Hills & Dales was excited to host the event once more after such a trying year.

“We have a lot of people tell us that it’s their first time being here, which of course we love,” Merciers said.

Attendee Dana Chambers brought her four youngest daughters, parents and husband to the event, a first for the family in several years.

“Today the weather [and] the setting is perfect,” Chambers said.

Robbie Joss brought her daughter and parents to Hills and Dales, a first for the family.

“We’ve been planning to do it the last couple of years but every time we got ready something would happen,” Joss said.

Joss said she was impressed with the event and hopes to come back next year.

The event featured hordes of entertainment, including live music from Chattanooga artist Nicholas Edward Williams, balloon creations from artist Brett Whaley, old fashioned games and pony rides.

Attendees also had the opportunity to roam the estate’s nearby garden and admire the assortment of plants and flowers blooming. Mercier said she is structuring other events at Hills and Dales to be “COVID-19 friendly.”

For more information on Hills & Dales events, visit https://www.hillsanddales.org.