Summers are a great gift to residents in the Southern Tier.  This year, everyone was wondering when Summer weather would break.  Now that the heat of the Summer is finally here, people are looking for some "different" things to do with their family, friends or significant other.

In visiting Chenango Valley State Park this past weekend, it appears we have a picnic craze in the Southern Tier.

If you're planning a visit to one of our many city, county or state parks, here are a couple of picnic essentials you may want to consider packing so your portable feast is a home run:

#5 ~  Potato Salad or Pasta Salad:  You can't go wrong with either.  For a healthier option, you may want to consider reduced fat mayo.  Trust me, you really can't tell the difference.  For potato salad, the secret ingredient is mustard.

#4~  Fried Chicken:  Fried from your kitchen or the fast food option, cold chicken is a classic picnic food.  If you're making it yourself, a healthy option is baking your chicken, using corn flakes for coating.  Click HERE for easy recipe in less than an hour.

#3~  Sandwiches, Burgers and Dogs:  There's nothing like a fresh cold cut and cheese sandwich on a french baguette (Price Chopper, Sweeney's, Rob's, Wegmans or Weis), Italian bread or a sesame seeded roll.  Yum.  Burger patties, portobello mushrooms brushed with olive oil or hotdogs are another option but you have to lug the charcoal or portable grill with you.  Don't forget the matches.

#2~  Watermelon:  I don't care what you say, this is a must.  There's something about eating this king of melons outside on a sunny day.  I find that seeded watermelons are even sweeter than the non-seeded.

#1~  Lemonade:  No picnic is complete without this classic beverage.  Check the ingredients. Try to stay away from the brands that contain high fructose corn syrup and your body will thank you.  Your scale will too.  And you'll taste the difference.  Found in 98% of sodas and processed food in this country, this heated sugar additive is not allowed in most countries outside the United States.

Plan a perfect picnic and before you go, check the weather on the HAWK.  Click HERE for the latest.