Blanket statement: Picnic Party Cleveland brings the picnic trend to The Land

Over the last year, picnics have come back in a big way—thanks to a socially distanced stamp of approval and the ability to gather safely in an open-air setting. With the "New York Times" hailing the trend and bespoke picnic companies popping up around the country, Kelly Testa decided to give Cleveland a seat at the proverbial table by launching Picnic Party Cleveland.

“Community and connection are so important, and they’ve been hard to find with COVID,” says Testa. “After I saw my first pop-up picnic on Instagram back in the fall, I was inspired to learn more and start something here.”

A gourmet picnic setupIn November, Testa reached out to Picnic Party Seattle to explore the idea of replicating the model, and ultimately ended up buying a business plan, license, and website template from owner Hannah Fuchigami to form Picnic Party Cleveland. “Hannah had been thinking about [expanding] for a while, but my outreach spurred her on,” says Testa, adding that there are now also sister businesses in Los Angeles and Atlanta.

Having launched in April, Testa is now actively taking bookings for Picnic Party Cleveland. Her company offers three picnic packages: a date night for two, a classic package for up to eight guests, and a celebration soiree for up to 12 people. Packages typically include the picnic setup and ambiance, with optional add-ons such as local food delivery, charcuterie boards from Sweet Brie Co., flower bouquets, and even an on-site photographer to document the day. “We try to offer everything that can help make the experience super-special,” says Testa.

The Picnic Party Cleveland teamSo far, Testa has held most of the picnics at Wolf Creek Winery, but she is working on forming both Akron- and Cleveland-based partnerships with local AirBNBs, flower farms (such as Chardon-based Fogle Farm), privately owned parks and gardens, vineyards, orchards, and more. “The permitting process can be prohibitive at public parks, so we strive to find more unique settings and support local businesses,” says Testa.

Right now, Picnic Party Cleveland is a side hustle for Testa, who works full-time for JumpStart as a marketing coordinator. Her team includes fellow picnic planner Katie Hickman and photographer Abi Miller, and she’s looking forward to a busy season of picnics with “lots of reservations on the books.”

“We’re really excited for what’s to come,” says Testa, “and we think this is a really cool way to celebrate a special occasion while staying safe.”

Read more articles by Jen Jones Donatelli.

As an enthusiastic CLE-vangelist, Jen Jones Donatelli enjoys diving headfirst into her work with FreshWater Cleveland. Upon moving back to Cleveland after 16 years in Los Angeles, Jen served as FreshWater's managing editor for two years (2017-2019) and continues her work with the publication as a contributing editor and host of the FreshFaces podcast. Along with her work at FreshWater, she is the editor-of-chief of Edible Cleveland and a contributing editor for Destination Cleveland. When not typing the day away at her laptop, she teaches writing and creativity classes for Creative Groove, Literary Cleveland, Cleveland State University, and more. Jen is a proud graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism.