About 80 people packed the clubhouse at Country Aire Manor recently for the annual Otsego County picnic.
Besides catching up with friends and making new acquaintances, those gathering enjoyed a potluck lunch, had a chance to reminisce, and share their East Coast and Southern cultures.
Sally Harrington, of Cooperstown, New York, said she was happy to run into old friends.
“I’ve seen a lot of people that I haven’t seen in years – which is very surprising to me,” said Harrington, a Florida snowbird, who made a point to attend the picnic before heading back up North.
She was invited to the Dade City get-together by her friend Ken Morris, an Otsego County native with strong ties to the yearly picnic. His grandfather, a New York transplant to Zephyrhills, was one of the event’s founders.
“I was a high-schooler when I use to visit him,” Morris recounted. “It was a great place to get out of the snow.”
Word of the picnic typically gets around either by email chain, telephone calls or word of mouth.
As this year’s host, Rex Yurenka personally helped to circulate invitations.
“Most of these people are from New York and they have houses down here,” said Yurenka, a snowbird himself.
Those gathering had a chance to share special foods.
Joe Corraro, for instance, prepared his signature-style meatballs for the picnic. A native of Otsego County, he also is a former firefighter and former pizza parlor owner.
Now a resident of Zephyrhills, Corraro has been a regular at the picnic for nearly a decade.
When it comes to deli sandwiches, Corraro observed, the North beats the South.
But, the South has a real advantage on another front, he said. The warm weather is a whole lot nicer than shoveling snow, he said.
Besides Corraro’s meatballs, the buffet included pasta salad, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, goulash stew and fruit salad, to name just some of the items.
And, this year, for the first time, the event featured live entertainment.
Guitarist Jim Dorn took to the stage, playing songs dating back to the 1960s.
Another high point was the chance drawing: Sixteen guests won prizes to take home.
Yurenka said he had just two rules for the picnic’s guests: “Go away full and have a good time.”
Published March 20, 2019