by Madison Fisler Lewis
July 28, 2014. On Friday, July 25, the Symphony by the Lake at Chetola Lake, hosted by the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce, once again featured plenty of themed tents on the grounds where excited patrons enjoyed dinner, drinks and more with their comrades. Clinching the coveted title for the best tent once again was the Kennedy Foundation tent, led by Karyn Herterich.
“We are the oldest tent patrons in the whole group,” Herterich said. “We started the tents 25 years ago because the town needed money for sponsorships. The year before we started doing the tents it poured rain, and so I told them to get some tents and let people buy them along with seats, tickets and parking passes.”
The Kennedy Foundation tent has won the coveted title a few times before and always takes care to take the annual theme of the event to new heights.
“We have won a few times,” Herterich said. “We have done all types of themes. This year when I got the theme, it was fiddles and Fiddleheads and I didn’t really understand the theme. I was talking to my son and I said that my mind had just gone blank with the theme, and he suggested that we do a blank canvas. A blank white theme, and that is how it all started. All of the things were white on white, our guests all wore white and we gave prizes for the best white in the end. We either looked like we had all come from a wedding or escaped from a very expensive rehab facility! I was going to wear white myself, and the minute before I left I decided to be the black sheep and wear black.”
The result of Herterich’s take on the theme was a totally white affair. White clothes, white decor and white flowers dominated.
“We just had fun with it!” Herterich said. “Our guests are great. They all try to outdo each other.”
On top of the white, the 80 guests of the party also wore a very unconventional ID tag. The googly-eyes on each of their outfits, their EYE-Ds if you will, were eye catching to say the least.
“We have so many people and God knows how many crashers. We figured out years ago that we had a lot of people crashing our tents and so we started giving our guests stickers or something clever to identify our guests.”
The more than 80 guests this year included former ASU football coach Jerry Moore and others.
Herterich remembers the very beginning of the symphony decades ago.
“The first year there were 200 people and we sat on the grass in front of my friend’s Winnebago,” Herterich said. “And now it has grown so big and it is one of the main reasons my husband and I have our foundation to underwrite the orchestra, because it was getting more and more expensive to put on each year. This area needs to be about more than just bluegrass, it needs to offer a variety of music. I thought it was important to help save this thing. The first year there were 10 tents, and now there are so many.”
The Ethel and W. George Kennedy foundation is dedicated to the health, education and welfare of children.
“We want to thank the chamber, truly,” Herterich said. “It is a huge undertaking for them and there are a lot of volunteers that work hard. It is a hard job and I don’t think a lot of people realize how much hard work goes into it. They really go to extraordinary lengths.”
Check out photos of the winning tent below:
Photos by Ken Ketchie