Chris Trout, creative producer for the 20th Jazz in the Pines Patrons’ Dinner. Photo by J.P. Crumrine

The annual Patrons’ Dinner precedes the Jazz in the Pines by one day and gives the attendees a sense and feel for the next 48 hours.

This year, for the 20th-annual Jazz in the Pines, a crystal ball will be at the center of each table. Diners may ask and consider, “Where is Idyllwild Arts going and are you part of its future?”

The dinner, entertainment and crystal balls are magical. Chris Trout, Patrons’ Dinner Committee chair, assures us because, for the third consecutive year, she has planned an elaborate and entertaining evening without using a dollar of scholarship money.

“I’m making something out of nothing. Anyone can buy crystal,” she said proudly, “but I’m creating it.”

To manufacture an evening of exchanging ideas and meeting new friends, Trout promises each place setting will have a biography and photo of an IA faculty member. This will enable diners to discuss the students’ opportunities and possibilities.

“Without the faculty, there would be no school or town,” Trout said.

The dinner also will feature a retrospective of the jazz fest’s first 19 years, from a few hours on a Saturday in August 1994 to a three-day event in 2013. Nelson Dinner Hall, the site of the Patrons’ Dinner, will be feted with posters, photographs, T-shirts, past programs from the earlier jazz fests and a salute to the hundreds of volunteers.

As the attendees absorb the past jazz fests and contemplate the school’s future, Fritz Coleman, NBC4’s weathercaster and frequent Idyllwild visitor, will entertain diners with his cogent, insightful and humorous comments on the present.

Coleman has agreed to perform in the round following dinner, another first for Trout.

Complementing the crystal balls will be three crystal chandeliers that will be available for future events, such as adorning the French Quarter on Saturday and Sunday.

The “Taste of Idyllwild” precedes dinner and entertainment. As if on a magic carpet, patrons will be conveyed to various international cuisines, according to Trout.

Café Aroma will offer Italian choices, La Casita will bring Mexican treats and Mile High Café will have something from Korea and Japan.

Patrons will have a choice of three entreés: sea bass with mango salsa, beef tenderloin with Bordelaise sauce or fresh summer vegetables in phyllo pastry. All are accompanied by delicious side dishes of vegetables. The scrumptious dessert will be chocolate mousse with creme fraiche drizzle topped with mint.

The magic does not stop when the entreé and desert forks are down. Trout promises two more huge surprises, “But I can’t tell you what they are,” she said with a smile.

Finally, Saturday morning as the gates open, Trout will personally greet everyone at the
Patrons’ entrance.

For Trout, her compensation for planning, creating and organizing this dinner will be all the “oohs and aahs” she hears as patrons enter Nelson Hall.

Patrons’ tickets must be ordered before Monday, Aug. 12. Reserve by calling 951-500-4090 or on the festival website at and clicking on “Tickets.”

At $250, the Patrons’ Package includes one ticket for each day of the festival with reserved amphitheater seating. Also, Patrons’ preferred parking is provided right on campus the next morning as well as the Red Carpet Entry gate for Jazz in the Pines.