2012-08-09 / Life in Leelanau

New York trip raises $100,000

Biggest year yet for Conservancy ‘Friends’ picnic


MARIO BATALI, shown last week at the Conservancy picnic, has proven a gracious host in past trips to the Big Apple. 
— Photo by Carl Ganter MARIO BATALI, shown last week at the Conservancy picnic, has proven a gracious host in past trips to the Big Apple. — Photo by Carl Ganter One hundred times $1,000 equals a new record for the Leelanau Conservancy’s annual Friends Picnic and Auction.

A new gimmick on a standard — but still very popular — auction item at the Conservancy’s biggest function of the year helped to raise $100,000 for what has been termed the Molto Big Apple Raffle prize donated by summer resident and celebrity chef Mario Batali.

As an auction item, the three-day weekend in New York raised $67,500 in 2011, and the picnic itself added $148,000 to the Conservancy’s bottom line. The 2012 picnic brought in $181,000 — also a record.

“We sold one hundred raffle tickets at $1,000 each, and (Batali) drew the winning ticket,” said Conservancy communications director Carolyn Faught. “He got a standing ovation. People were on their feet.”

Said Batali: “I’ve raved about this area ever since we started spending time here over a decade ago. I love that I’m able to give back in a big way.”

The winning ticket provided its owner and five lucky friends with an expensespaid weekend to the Big Apple with Batali serving as host. Included will be stops at Batali’s Otto, Babbo and worldfamous Italian Market Eataly.

Up for auction were dozens of locally made items including paintings, as well as services donated by Conservancy backers. Local food centerpieces on every table highlighted the county’s many products, from wine to chocolate to cherry pies.

“We were trying to make people aware of purchasing local, and how important it is to support our local farmers,” said Faught.

Some $181,000 was raised under roomy, white tents erected on the Newton farm off Jelinek Road in Leelanau Township. The weather even cooperated, providing a stunning sunset over the Manitou islands.

The funds will be used to conserve the land, water and scenic character of Leelanau County. The Conservancy, the largest non-profit organization based in the county, purchases development rights from farmers to ensure the continuance of open space and agriculture.

Some 750 people attended.

— by Alan Campbell

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