The Patrons Dinner is Friday, Aug. 15, in the “French Quarter” at Idyllwild Arts. Photo courtesy of Pam Goldwasser
The Patrons Dinner is Friday, Aug. 15, in the “French Quarter” at Idyllwild Arts. Photo courtesy of Pam Goldwasser

The 21st Jazz in the Pines performances begin Saturday, Aug. 16, but the traditional Patrons Dinner sounds the opening notes Friday evening, Aug. 15.

This year, the Friday soiree will return to the French Quarter where it has been before, said Anne Erikson, one of three co-chairs of the jazz fest.

“It’s been a little bit redesigned this year. After the formal 20th festival last year, for the 21st, we’re going in a different direction,” she stated.

“It’s a rustic chic summer barbecue,” Erikson said. But then her colleagues, Pam Goldwasser and Anne Finch, the other co-chairs this year, emphasized, “We refer to it as ‘Jazz, Jeans and Jewels.’ While there will be plenty of seating for those not dancing, it’s informal with no assigned seats.”

While the venue will be outside, there will be plenty of exquisite food and a band with a dance floor. The menu — from appetizers to desserts — is the creation of Georgie Smith of The Delish Life.

“The main dish will be grilled meat, fish and vegetable on skewers. Gazpacho soup, turkey meatballs, it’s all delicious. The chocolate fondue will be available the whole evening,” Erikson stressed.

“It will be a gorgeous summer evening, beautiful food and beautiful part of campus next to the forest,” Goldwasser said.

Patrons will hear and dance to the rhythms of Ruby and The Redhots. Etoile Ruby Presnell is known as the “first class sultry lady of blues.” She brings her well-known classic jazz and blues back to Idyllwild from San Diego. Ruby and the Redhots have performed several times at the jazz fest. For those who can’t attend the Patrons Dinner, they can see her and the band Saturday in the French Quarter and Ruby Blue, her other band, will be on the main stage Sunday.

“What happens [in Idyllwild] is people take for granted the beautiful setting [we live in], but that is what people want when they come here,” Erikson said with exuberance.

Patrons Package ticket, $250, includes Friday’s dinner and tickets for both days of the festival, Saturday, Aug. 16 and Sunday, Aug. 17, as well as preferred parking and preferred seating in the Holmes Amphitheater for both days.