Under a cloud canopy in the heart of Leipers Fork (technically IN Leipers Creek), 62 guests gathered for a magical Dinner IN the Creek to benefit Harpeth Conservancy. Rachael McCampbell and Curtis Stewart are ideal hosts for an outdoor event, as McCampbell is a fine artist whose art made people feel like they were walking into an outdoor living room. Stewart is a landscape architect, so the grounds, were of course perfectly manicured with a natural and native feel. Guests included a mix of Leipers Fork, Franklin and Nashville residents, country music artists, fine artists, actors, rock stars and river supporters. McCampbell shares, “We are so honored to host this event in a space that really showcases how important it is to support Harpeth Conservancy and their work to protect our waterways. I encourage everyone to share whatever gifts and talents they have to preserve our creeks and rivers that make this area so special.”
The event was a “Dinner IN the Creek”, so guests were advised to wear “creek appropriate” clothes and footwear. People showed up in shorts, or with their pants rolled up, shorter dresses, waterproof boots and river shoes. Upon arrival, everyone received a place holder rock to reserve their seats. One long table seated 46 guests, then other tables were scattered in the creek and along the banks for those who wanted to keep their feet dry. Amos Gott of Amos Events provided the event direction and design and worked with Please Be Seated to achieve the perfect setting, which was no easy feat. With water and a rocky bottom, some of the challenges included removing wooden legs from tables to get the natural wood tops, but metal legs that would sit in the creek. Volunteers Heidi Hartman and Kristina Walters spent HOURS nestling the tables into the creek at the appropriate height in a safe and even manner. The tablescapes were perfect. Along with the wood tables, Amos selected green glass goblets for water, long wooden centerpieces with individual bottles, copper chairs and ivory plates and linens. Under that direction, Steve McLellan from Garden Delights Fine Florist selected the perfect flowers and greenery for the event including Blue star fern plants, feverfew, millet, miniature foxgloves, maidenhair ferns, garden roses and sunflowers with a few sprigs of lavender that were in the arrangements and tied into the napkins.
The bar was set on the shoal, so guests had to cross the creek to get a beverage or signature Hemingway Daquiri. Volunteers were stationed to help people safely move about the creek and to get food and drinks for those who didn’t wish to get into the water. Passed appetizers from BAM Foods Catering included Smoked Hot Chicken Skewer with a Pickled Kale Chip, Tomato Jam Tarts with Mustard Greens and Pickled Watermelon Salad Bites.
A couple of small showers added to the spontaneity of the event with guests whipping on a raincoat or pulling out their umbrellas. No one missed a beat, as they were already a bit wet standing in a creek. The rain kept things cool on what could have been a toasty July evening. Once the rain clouds passed, everything was dried by a troupe of amazing volunteers and the buffet dinner was opened. Chef Braiden Mallon of BAM Foods Catering from Columbia, TN knocked it out of the park! His spread included: a Country Caesar, Summer Green Salad Mini Caprese Salad; Flat Iron Steak with Roasted Garlic Chimichurri, Herb Roasted Chicken, Seared Salmon, Summer Succotash, Street Corn Cous Cous, Confit Potatoes with Herbs and Garlic with Peach Pie Cookies with Almond Crumble and Fresh Whipped Cream for dessert. We know of at least four catering events that he booked from the amazing food he presented. Some of his organic produce was provided by Del Rio Chasers and Gigi Lazenby from her nearby farm.
As the sun was going down and the string lights overhead reflected on the water (hung by Iroquois Steeplechase leaders Dwight Hall, Holly and Wesley Hirschman and provided by Bradfield Lighting), Dorie Bolze, President and CEO of Harpeth Conservancy, made a few remarks then welcomed the entertainment for the evening. Cindy Owen of Given Entertainment lined up Matt Wynn fresh off the road from opening for Trace Adkins and Emily West, who is about to release her new album, Dear Diary and about whom Howard Stern said, “(West is) the most original singer to have ever performed in the history of America’s Got Talent.” Their voices were ethereal carrying over the water.
As the evening wrapped up and guests departed, they were sent off with “to go” back of lemon squares and brownie bites for the ride home from “The Fork.” Hopefully they were left with a sweet taste from a wonderful evening to benefit a great cause. Harpeth Conservancy’s mission is to restore and protect clean water and healthy ecosystems for rivers in Tennessee by employing scientific expertise and collaborative relationships to develop, promote, and support broad community stewardship and action.
We would be remiss in not issuing a HUGE thank you to our volunteers and Harpeth Conservancy staff. This smaller event on a weekday requires people to take off from work and literally do a lot of the heavy lifting (as the event is too intimate to hire lighting professionals, etc.) The event would NOT be possible without them.