Our Story

Picnic in the Park has been created through the partnership of Event Essentials and the Madison Parks Foundation.  The event was born when Event Essentials wanted to create a signature event to give back to the community that has supported its own growth and success. “The parks have played an unrecognized and subtle and important role in the lives of many Madisonians.” Kevin Hoffman – President and Owner of Event Essentials.      

As a result, Event Essentials pulls out the stops in support of Madison Parks Foundation to ‘step back in time’ and celebrate the legacy of the private creation of our public parks.  As many people many not know, our city’s public parks were privately created by a group of influential and civic-minded leaders that came together to create the Madison parks and Pleasure Drive Association.  This organization was comprised of many of the names we still recognize today – Olin, Owen, Vilas, Burrows, Tenney and the list goes on.  They originally created the Association for carriage rides to escape the ‘budding metropolis’ of Madison, but soon the Association evolved to privately create and maintain what is now our beautiful public park system. 

The Madison Parks Foundation carries on that legacy today and the Picnic in the Park celebrates this tradition.  This annual event rotates from park to park, celebrating not only the beautiful spaces throughout our city but the remarkable history behind each park.  Our partner celebrity chefs provide an era-inspired feast and the event features live music along with an update on Madison Park Foundation’s latest initiatives.  Thanks to the generous support of Event Essentials and our sponsors, proceeds from the Picnic in the Park support the Madison Parks Foundation.  However, the event was not created as a fundraiser.  Although we always encourage others to consider joining the legacy left behind by others, the focus of the event is simply a celebration of the history, community and beauty created by our parks.  We invite you to join us for an evening you won’t soon forget!

Building A Legacy

Special thanks to Robert Timm, and Opix Media, for creating the following short film on the remarkable history of the Madison Parks Foundation.


The Legacy Continues

Madison Parks Foundation’s work continues today, with your support, as the foundation strives to conserve, promote and enhance Madison’s parks. 

The Madison Parks Foundation is working on making our parks more inclusive through our current initiatives: 

  • Adding fully-accessible playgrounds – currently there are 2 within our 176 playgrounds and we would like add an additional 3 or 4 so that most residents would be within a 5 mile radius of one of the playgrounds.  It is important to add these assets to our parks system to be more inclusive, since 20% of our population is affected by a disability – whether it is physical or cognitive. 


  • Sponsoring the Learn to Series which provides instruction and equipment to learn to try different activities in our parks like playing Cricket, birdwatching, outdoor photography, cross country skiing, etc.  Last year there were 23 of these opportunities throughout the whole year. 


  • Advancing the KNOW program (Kids Need Opportunities at Warner) - Teen Night, Family Fun Night and the 3ON3 Basketball Tournament Series provide meaningful opportunities for youth and keep them out of situations where they may engage in negative behaviors. These programs, along with daily open gyms, are the new cornerstone of the WPCRC.  MPF is raising funds for this program and our resources are helping grow this program to include a Back-to-School supply drive and establishing a “Snack Shack” to address food insecurity with the youth at the center.