It could happen, just like that, by the picnic tables near the playground equipment. On the shaded lawn across from the Visitors Center. Maybe somewhere around the barn, along the lakeside trails, or down by the old gazebo. According to the folks at the Bluegrass & Oldtime Music Association of New Jersey (BOTMA), the phenomenon known as Pickin’ in the Park could occur with the suddenness of a kinder-gentler summer storm — and “you just never know who will show up to spend the day pickin’.”

Regular readers of redbankgreen have been clued in to the BOTMA organization’s monthly Sunday jams  at Little Silver’s Embury United Methodist Church — a “best kept secret” that runs from September to May each year. But as to the question of where the music goes in summer, look no further than the many public nooks and crannies of Lincroft’s Thompson Park.

The flagship facility of the Monmouth County Park System plays host to the free BOTMA jams for three Sunday sessions in 2017, beginning on June 18. Running from 1 to 4 p.m., it’s a leisurely paced (even if lightning-fast in the pickin’ department), completely informal and all-welcome affair for which attendees are invited to bring lawn chairs and picnic lunch — and, as BOTMA points out, it’s a set of occurrences that comes with its own rules of etiquette.

“Please understand that these are not stage shows,” it says here. “At any given time there could be four or five sessions going on. The musicians will spread out over a wide area. 

“If you are sitting someplace and you are hearing two jams at the same time simply move your chair closer to the jam you want to listen to,” it goes on. “Please don’t ask the musicians in the other jam to be quiet.”

It’s even something of a rain-or-shine happening, as in the event of cloudburst or drizzle the musicians can often be found gathering in the gazebo, located just west of the main parking area (itself accessible by the driveway at 805 Newman Springs Road).

The 2017 Pickin’ in the Park series continues with Sunday jam sessions on July 16 and August 20. Contact the Park System at (732)842-4000, ext. 4312 — and keep it tuned to redbankgreen for updates on all manner of seasonal activities at Thompson Park.