Dining alfresco

Miki Johnson

The sound of music will mingle with the usual sounds of summer on Northwestern’s Lakefill today as Fernandez and Kimball — a Spanish guitar duo — kick off Lunch on the Lake.

As part of the Office of Campus Activities’ larger Norris Summer Days program, Lunch on the Lake will bring musicians to the Norris East Lawn from noon to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays until Aug. 22.

Performances are free and the audience is invited to bring their own lunch or buy food from the SodexhoUSA grill station set up outside for the events, said Jeremy Wingerter, assistant director of campus activities.

“It’s nice that we highlight the nice resource we have with the lake and lawn,” Wingerter said. “People can come sit at the tables, be entertained and enjoy the surroundings.”

NU Summer Sessions — an organization committed to provide NU students, faculty and staff with on-campus summer activities — has been funding Lunch on the Lake for years, said Wingerter.

This year the Block Museum of Art contributed further funding for the first time. It is also co-sponsoring Summer Cinema, which shows movies Wednesday nights on the Norris East Lawn and began last night with “Charlie’s Angels.”

Wingerter said the Block Museum’s extra funds have allowed him to bring more prominent performers this year than the program has had in the past.

At least one name will be familiar to last year’s “lake lunchers,” though. Wingerter brought back the Clayton Miller Blues Band this year because of the overwhelmingly positive response they received last year.

But Wingerter said he usually only allows one repeat band from year to year. To ensure that programming is always innovative, he has his work-study students brainstorm ideas for the types of music that will be represented and then finds performers to fill the spaces.

And although some artists are from out of town, Wingerter said he tries to invite as many local performers as possible. The musicians’ budgets are often small, but Lunch at the Lake provides a venue for them to get out their name and sell CDs, Wingerter said.

More importantly, though, Lunch on the Lake gives the local community a place to come together, Wingerter said.

Dornette Ashley, a Norris University Center department assistant, said she has been taking advantage of that opportunity since she began working for NU two years ago.

“It’s a really neat program,” said Ashley, for whom Lunch on the Lake also affords a chance to see her daughter during the work day. Ashley’s 7-year-old daughter attends the YMCA day care, which brings its children to the lake performances.