For 156 years the Collett and McKay families and their descendants have been meeting on the second Saturday in August. This year more than 120 cousins came to the same picnic grounds where the family has gathered for the past 152 years.
John Mothersole led the team in setting up the sawhorses and sawn lumber boards that hold the heaps of delicious fried chicken, pulled pork, cole slaw, brownies, corn bread, green Cool Whip salad, and lemonade. A highlight was a unique culinary creation — a watermelon bowl cut out, filled with fruit salad, and arranged in the shape of a pig with feet, eyes, ears, and a snout!
Susan Doster opened the picnic with annual announcements. A blessing was offered by Travis Glaze. The group paused for a moment of silence to remember those who passed away since the last picnic: John Howell of Wilmington, Rev. Robert McKay of Colorado, and Krista McKay Campbell of Kettering.
The oldest attendees this year included Rev. John Beers, 87, and Ronald Whitacre, 85. The youngest attending their very first family picnic were Katherine Rose St. John, 9 months, from Wilmington, and Virginia Charis Doster, 7 months, from Raleigh, North Carolina.
Other first-time attendees included Amanda Schweigart Doster, wife of Adam Doster of Novi, Michigan, and Cassidy Tanner, husband of Hannah Collett Tanner, of Richmond, Virginia. Also, a first-time attendee was Richard Ellestad, husband of Jennifer Becker Ellestad, both of Billings, Montana.
First-timers gathered with their families around the Genealogy Table where the family records are displayed each year to have their names added to the family tree.
For many years the late Katherine Luby and Howard Doster anchored the Genealogy Table and would amaze their cousins with stories of family history and the results of their research. This year the Stephens Family from Maryland, and Kim Price from Utah shared their books, charts and photographs, and pointed out which family line each person came from — a Collett, a McKay, or from one of the four marriages between the Collett and McKay families in the mid 1800s.
Descendants of McKays and Colletts, along with their families and guests, enjoyed warm conversations under the shade trees and the laughter lingered and danced across the grass. The children kicked soccer balls, blew soap bubbles, and chased puppies.
As the afternoon came to a close, each person carried with them the memories of people and picnics past as they packed up their fresh memories of another Collett-McKay Picnic.
Many had learned as children, come the second Saturday of August, there’s nowhere else to be than on Gurneyville Road.
Many came from towns and rural areas nearby and some came from other states across the country — hailing from Maryland, Utah, Michigan, Montana, Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia, New Jersey, California, Washington and Delaware.
Each year family members work to maintain the picnic grounds, a dedicated four acres along Gurneyville Road, by mowing, picking up sticks, and planting young maple and oak trees to grow alongside the hundred-year-old ones that have stood as witnesses to family picnics past.