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Women’s Board’s Picnic-Bazaar postponed for first time in 100 years –

by Terri Hogan

Senior Staff Writer

A hospital tradition that has stood for 99 years has met its match in the coronavirus pandemic.

The Women’s Board of Montgomery General Hospital Supporting MedStar Montgomery Medical Center has announced that the 100th annual Picnic and Bazaar, scheduled for July 28, is postponed until Oct. 3.

“We are really glad that we were able to reach a decision to postpone it,” Women’s Board President Karen Nordstrom said. “There was a possibility we may have had to cancel it altogether.”

Nordstrom said a number of factors went in to the decision to postpone.

“Primarily, it was the safety of the public and volunteers,” she said. “The way our booths and tents are set up, social distancing would not be easy.”

She said the board was also waiting to see what direction the state and county were taking in reopening.

Montgomery County began Stage 1 of its reopening plan on June 1, and although most parts of the state entered Stage 2 of recovering on June 5, Montgomery did not, so no one knows what will be allowed for public gatherings in the coming weeks and months.

The event is a large undertaking with many vendors and groups participating. Organizers had to make sure the hospital, as well as all others, were in agreement to postpone until Oct. 3.

“Once we knew that everyone was on board, we knew it was the right thing to do,” Nordstrom said.

By holding the event on Saturday instead of the typical fourth Tuesday in July, Nordstrom said she hopes more members of the community will be able to attend.

“Also, by having it in the fall, it won’t be as hot as it usually is in July,” she said.

Nordstrom said that by October, the board will hopefully have had experience with reopening the hospital gift shop and thrift shop, which have been closed since mid-March.

Board members have been inundated with people asking when the thrift shop will begin accepting donations again and are in the process of planning for that, she said. The thrift shop provides a majority of the Women’s Board’s fundraising.

“By postponing the picnic, that will give us some breathing room to get through the thrift shop reopening,” Nordstrom said.

Organizers will continue to keep abreast of health and safety guidelines and will re-evaluate in early August if necessary.

The event, which began in 1920 as the Hospital Supper, offers its famous fried chicken and other picnic fare, along with local entertainment, a book sale, plant and fresh produce sale, Kiddie Land, antiques and more.

The Women’s Board is a volunteer service organization made up of more than 100 members that raises funds to benefit the hospital and a scholarship fund through the Picnic and Bazaar,  the gift shop, the thrift shop and Gifts of Light program.

The organization has donated more than $20 million to the hospital over the past century.

The Women’s Board is working to fulfill its latest pledge — $2 million for the renovation of the patient surgical waiting area, a renovation of existing space on the third floor offering inpatient/outpatient treatment for pulmonary patients, and a full renovation of the thrift shop.

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