Breese Stevens Field to offer $500 “curated picnic basket” “experience”

The deal will be available at Garrison Keillor’s September 2 show.

The deal will be available at Garrison Keillor’s September 2 show.

Picnic photo by Alex Lang on Flickr.

Picnic photo by Alex Lang on Flickr.

Garrison Keillor has announced a September 2 show at Breese Stevens Field, but the real news is getting buried under word of the retired A Prairie Home Companion host’s upcoming visit.

Local concert promoter Frank Productions’ press release for the show also advertised a “Picnic Table Experience,” featuring a table for four and a “specially curated picnic basket featuring: 2 bottles of local wine, Potter’s Crackers, Emmi Roth Cheese, local Sausage, 4 bottles of water, 2 apples, 2 pears, and a selection of local chocolates.”

The price tag? $500. You can also get just the basket, with general admission, for $125.

The package also includes “a keepsake basket, corkscrew, as well as disposable plates, silverware, and glasses.” Wait, disposable plates? And no picnic blanket, preferably made of ocelot fur, to protect the delicate rears of the upper crust from harsh seats, damp ground, or the vapors? Surely the blue bloods will not stand for this insult.

A Frank Productions spokesperson says the basket deal will only be available at the Keillor show, which the Wisconsin State Journal reports is being presented as a picnic-style evening for all attendees. It’s not clear if people can bring their own food a la Concerts on the Square, but it seems only fair to allow that, as Garrison Keillor’s crowd tends to be pretty curatorial about their cracker and sausage selection.

As Breese Stevens Field has come into its own as a venue these past few years, it’s been interesting to see how it reflects the flavor of the pricey new developments springing up next to it along East Washington Avenue. Breese is a publicly owned facility — technically a City of Madison park — but privately operated by Big Top Baseball, which also owns the Madison Mallards.

While rescuing the field from being largely under-used, the management has given it an unmistakable whiff of affluent urbanism. Breese has a running event called the “Bodega” that is not a bodega. A page on the field’s website advertising VIP tickets states that “There are people and then there are VIPs.” (Note: “People” have paid for the venue’s upkeep and renovations over the years through their taxes.)

Of course, you don’t have to be wealthy to enjoy an event at Breese, and concerts and sports events have long embraced a weird mix of populism and affluence — there are overpriced-beer-in-the-nosebleeds people, and then there are luxury-box people. And honestly, if you can convince people to spend serious money on a glorified snack pack, you kind of deserve it. Still, it’s tough to imagine a better symbol of gentrification than people enjoying a $500 picnic for four while Garrison Keillor holds forth in the background. Except for maybe a duck-fat spill.

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