Lizzie Smyth loves picnics, and picnic planning was just a hobby until her 6-month dating anniversary picnic on the Blue Ridge Parkway. She pulled together a beautiful presentation, and a light bulb clicked in her head. “I was burned out on my day job at the time, and realized I could craft beautiful picnics for others as well as myself,” she recalls. It must have impressed the boyfriend because about six months after the six-month dating date and picnic, he married her.
She launched New River Picnic Company last October and plans and provides luxury experiences for picnic adventures. Lizzie pulls together everything from silverware and gourmet food to rugs, linens and pillows. When you arrive at the designated picnic site, everything will be ready to enjoy, with beautiful china, stemware, blankets and comfy pillows for lounging. Afterward, she returns to pack everything up and take it away.
Most of her finely-orchestrated picnics are cozy events for two, but Lizzie can handle up to 12 people. Local companies provide fresh food basket components like charcuterie boards from Just Graze & Company and baked goods from Halwa Bakery & Café, both in Blacksburg.
Reasons to Celebrate
New River Picnic Company has created memories for proposals, elopements, date nights, gender reveals, anniversaries, graduations and bachelorette parties. In addition, photographers are on call for special events. And remember, like a good champagne, you don’t need a special event for a picnic. Engaging New River Picnic [or enjoying good champagne] makes any event special.
Lizzie confides that two of her favorite places to set up luxury picnics are Bisset Park in Radford and the duck ponds at Virginia Tech. Picnics can be set up anywhere in out-of-the-way places, parks, backyards, churches, small farms or even inside your own house. Set-ups within 30 miles of Blacksburg are standard, and Lizzie will travel further for an additional fee. She notes that some parks have shelter rental fees. If you want wine or liquor, you have to provide your own, if it is permitted where your picnic takes place.
A typical picnic includes food, packaged in a box and/or displayed on a tray, and every picnic is unique. Lizzie adds personal touches for each client. For instance, her preparation for a proposal incorporates special memories of places the couple has been. If something you especially want isn’t on the list, you can create your own package.
“My husband Scott and I have booked two picnics with New River Picnic Company, and both experiences were amazing,” says Jessica Mattox of Radford. “Whether you choose your picnic indoors or outdoors, Lizzie will craft a beautiful setting catering directly to your tastes. She is a kind, thoughtful and gracious picnic organizer. And I was blessed to enjoy Lizzie as a student in my Professional Writing class at Radford University!”
For those who want to pick up a to-go bag, Lizzie offers The Hygge (Danish for “cozy or comfortable”), which is pronounced like Hue-gah. This choice will give you luxury picnic vibes, ready to take wherever you’d like. Everything in the bag is yours to keep for future outings, and edible delights can be included if you don’t want to pick up your own food.
Picnic With A Purpose
New River Picnic believes in giving back to the community. Their “Picnic with a Purpose” initiative developed because, as Lizzie says: “There must be action behind intention. We should do things locally, starting with patronizing other small businesses.” Four times a year, she selects an NRV non-profit to receive 5% of each package total. The first recipient was Live, Work, Eat, Grow, a non-profit that benefits the community by feeding, educating and teaching about sustainable living and conservation of natural resources.
Text by Jo Clark
Photos courtesy of New River Picnic Company
Jo Clark is a self-proclaimed beach bum, but is often found enjoying a Blue Ridge Mountain picnic and a glass of Our Dog Blue as she follows her roots back to Virginia. www.HaveGlassWillTravel.com or @JoGoesEverywhere on Instagram.