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Picnic Table Fit for a Congregation
Summer fun! An Ontario United Church congregation sets the record for the world's longest picnic table.

H>ow many college kids can fit in a phone booth? How many members of Annesley United Church can fit at a picnic table?

Picnic Table Fit for a Congregation
World's longest picnic table.
Photo courtesy of Willy Waterton.

We'll find out when the Markdale, ON, church holds a picnic to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the founding of The United Church of Canada. The centrepiece of the celebration will be a 30.6 metre picnic table The Guinness Book of Records says is the longest anywhere.

Retired local realtor and Annesley member Bob Oliver figures he has built a few hundred normal-sized picnic tables over the years, often as gifts for clients. Learning of a picnic table in the U.S. that measured 28 metres, he and his friend Dennis Gouldstone decided to go a couple of metres better. Three months and about $3,600 of Oliver's own money later, the pair completed an enormous cedar table on a patch of flat ground on Oliver's property outside Markdale. Christened the "Bignic Table," it was certified as a world record holder last December.

It will remain on Oliver's property for Annesley's 80th-anniversary picnic. "We hope we can squeeze everybody in," says Doug Maxwell, chair of Annesley's outreach committee. That would mean about 150 people, roughly the number of worshippers who attend weekly services.

Eventually, Oliver plans to cut the table up into about 18 individual tables, sell them, and donate the proceeds to a fund for a new local hospital.

A photographer on a cherry-picker boom plans to take a picture of everyone once they've found a place to park themselves. Could it be there's another world record—most people seated at a picnic table—waiting to be claimed?

Originally published in The United Church Observer, June 2005.




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