2013-08-08 / Front Page

Conservancy picnic draws 800 as M-22 sign fetches $3,200

Records were set at an annual fund-raising picnic that also served as the 25th birthday party for the Leelanau Conservancy.

The event, held at the Ruby Ellen farm in Bingham Township, drew more than 800 people, estimated Conservancy spokes person Carolyn Faught. More than $130,000 was raised through a silent auction, financial pledges for farmland protection, and an anonymous donor who offered up $20,000.

Patrons were in the donating spirit, with groups paying $6,000 and $4,200 for dinners sponsored by Epicure Catering and Idyl Farms.

Some $3,200 was paid for an M-22 sign donated through a program run by the Leelanau Enterprise.

But more than anything, the picnic provided an opportunity for like-minded people to gather stock about what they’ve collectively accomplished in the past and what they can accomplish in the future. Since 1988, the Conservancy has won numerous national awards on its way toward the creation of 22 natural areas and preserves, and the preservation through easements of thousands of acres of farmland.

EMCEE LARRY Mawby and Leelanau Conservancy President Steve Martineau lead bidders in the President’s Panel Paddle Raise at the Leelanau Conservancy Picnic on August 1. EMCEE LARRY Mawby and Leelanau Conservancy President Steve Martineau lead bidders in the President’s Panel Paddle Raise at the Leelanau Conservancy Picnic on August 1. “The picnic is sort of an annual celebration and gives people who love Leelanau County a chance to come together and express their love for the county,” said Susan Price, director of finance and administration for the Leelanau Conservancy.

The highlight of the picnic was a video shown that featured Leelanau’s impressive scenery, and some of the people who have worked to keep the county’s rural lands in their present state. The video explained the depth of the Conservancy’s movement, providing bit parts for celebrity chef Mario Batali of Northport and New York and Centerville Township residents Ted and Tally Lanham.

“We saw people during the video who choked up,” Price said. “People have such an emotional attachment to Leelanau County and the way people spoke about it in the video was very relatable to many people watching it.”

The video should be online by the end of this week, she said.

Most funds were raised through two events. Conservancy president Steve Martineau, a Mt. Pleasant resident who has been visiting the Peninsula since 1970, asked attendees to raise paddles handed out to signify major donations. Some 117 did so, raising $40,000 — enough for the anonymous donor to add $20,000 to the pot, and set a record.

All donators were rewarded on the spot with pies provided by the Grand Traverse Pie Company.

The silent auction was a bit different this year. In the past, the auction was dominated by bidding for a trip to New York sponsored by Batali. Instead, Batali chose to donate in other ways to the Conservancy, which apparently freed up funds for bids on other items in the silent auction some $69,000 was raised.

Local items were showcased throughout the entire including Ken Scott photography on video screens, local foods and local centerpieces on all of the tables.

“It really was a lot of fun,” Price said.

So far, three auctions have been held that offered M-22 signs provided through the Enterprise program for nonprofi ts. A sign auctioned on July 25 by the Glen Arbor Art Association raised $300, while one offered at a Relay for Life auction to fight cancer brought in $220.

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