Happy Fall from Friendship Botanic Gardens!
It’s been another incredible year, and we’d like to take a moment to look back on some of the amazing events and experiences we’ve shared with the community over the course of an unforgettable 2017 season.
Bacchus and Beer Fest among Botanic Splendor
In August, FBG hosted our first ever Bacchus and Bear Fest in the Symphony Garden. Over 250 people enjoyed craft brews and fine wines from 15 of the best breweries from across our region while rocking out to live music from Johnny Vermilye and Matt Gabriel. This evening served as the perfect showcase for all of the remarkable improvements made to the grounds over the past 3 years. The Bacchus and Beer Fest would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of the FBG Board of Directors’ Events Committee.
A Remarkable Season of New and Continuing Garden Experiences
We kicked off our 2017 season with the first-ever FBG Easter Egg Hunt, which generated a response that exceeded our wildest expectations. Nearly 1400 people packed the Gardens to hunt for eggs and get a first look at the remarkable transformations debuting to the public for the first time in 2017.
In June nearly 150 supporters of the Gardens from across our region and beyond joined us for dinner, drinks, and silent and live auctions at the 2nd Annual Garden Gala. This celebration of FBG’s past and future raised over $35,000 toward the continued revitalization of the grounds and facilities. The FBG family continues to be amazed and inspired by the outpouring of community support that makes it possible for us to dream bigger and bigger as we chart a course to the future. Be sure to save the date for our 3rd annual Garden Gala on June 16th 2018 at Blue Chip Casino. We can’t wait to host another elegant celebration of the FBG legacy, along with a special sneak preview of the exciting future taking shape at the Gardens.
Bugs and Butterflies Galore
Our new educational events continue to generate unprecedented enthusiasm and interest from the local community. In June, our 2nd annual Botanic Bug Safari drew hundreds of families to the Gardens for a spectacular afternoon of citizen science fun and exploration. Hundreds of young budding naturalists had the chance to learn from experts about the untold wonders of the natural world unfolding within the habitats that make up FBG. This event joins our roster of free environmental education programming, which includes the annual Butterfly Bonanza and the Maple Sugar Time demonstration. We’re thrilled to be able to offer curious minds of all ages the chance to experience the majesty of nature and all of the learning opportunities afforded by the diverse habitats of the Gardens. These events were made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Michigan City Community Enrichment Corporation.
The ArcelorMittal Children’s Garden
Last Spring, we were proud to unveil Phase 2 of the ArcelorMittal Children’s Garden, featuring a giant multifaceted Cedarworks playset to complement the previously unveiled sensory garden plots and a simulated groundwater well that teaches children where their water comes from. This new feature has been met with rave reviews from visitors and has proven to be our most popular new attraction yet. Stay tuned for updates about the next phase of this ongoing project, premiering to the public at the start of our 2018 season! The entire FBG family wishes to extend our sincerest thanks to the ArcelorMittal Corporation for making this project a reality.
Even the entrance to Friendship Botanic Gardens has been revamped and revitalized. Thanks to a design plan created by Board member Stu Franzen and a grant from the Michigan City Redevelopment Commission, the highway 12 entrance to the Gardens now serves as a captivating first impression that heralds the ongoing rejuvenation of downtown Michigan City. What was formerly an empty stretch of highway frontage has been transformed into a rich tapestry of garden plots interwoven with stone walls, all offsetting our digital LED sign and the “Garden Magic” sculpture by artist John Searles.
The Irish Garden
Johnny Stimley, the owner of Ryan’s Pub in Michigan City, has taken the initiative in creating an Irish Heritage Garden next to the Native American Garden on the Symphony side of the grounds. Recently installed centerpieces include a giant steel Celtic cross, an Irish Flag, and a wayfinding sign pointing to the historic major cities of the emerald isle.
The Cancer Survivor’s Garden of Love and Hope
The Cancer Survivor’s Garden of Love and Hope has fully taken shape, thanks once again to renowned landscape architect Stu Franzen and his continued dedication to fully realizing the potential of Friendship
Botanic Gardens. This new plot encircles a snow white gazebo situated on the peninsula in Lake Lucerne -- formerly the site of the Theater of Nations stage where world-famous performers delighted thousands in the mid-twentieth century. It’s our hope that the Cancer Survivor’s Garden of Love and Hope can serve to commemorate and honor the countless lives touched by cancer. The Cancer Survivor’s Garden of Love and Hope was made possible thanks to the generous support of Horizon Bank.
Juvenile Diabetes Garden
Board member Kevin Egan has continued to grow and develop the Juvenile Diabetes Garden, which encircles a flag pole near the Spruce Walk on the Celebration Side of the grounds. Next year this Garden will serve as a jumping off point for fundraising efforts that will help raise awareness of the millions of children affected by this life-changing illness.
The Future and Beyond
Our Board of Directors is always hard at work dreaming up new gardens and attractions to increase FBG’s relevance and impact in the Northwest Indiana community, and we’ll debut countless new projects in the years ahead. Here are just a few of the new plots we’re developing as we work to reintroduce the world to the magic of the Gardens:
Board member Stu Franzen has completed plans for a new garden dedicated to Veterans of Foreign Wars, with special plots focusing on World War II, The Korean War, The Vietnam War, and Middle Eastern wars. This expansive new garden will serve as a monument honoring the incalculable sacrifices of America’s service members.
Thanks to the remarkably generous support of Horizon Bank, we’ll soon begin construction on a giant Labyrinth Garden spanning nearly 100 feet on the Symphony Side of the Gardens. This ambitious project will serve as a “wow factor” signature attraction that can further establish Friendship Botanic Gardens as a can’t-miss tourist destination capable of raising the profile of Michigan City and the entire Northwest Indiana region.
We’ll soon be unveiling a massive signage project that will highlight the myriad heritage, educational, and historical points of interest that dot the landscape of FBG.
Looking for new ways to get active? Fitness trails with exercise equipment stations will soon line the FBG wilderness trails thanks to a generous grant from the Healthcare Foundation of Laporte. Phase 1 of the Friendship Fitness Trails will center on 5 pieces of aerobic exercise equipment. We’re already hard at work planning a second phase for 2019 that will add anaerobic exercise activities.
Stay tuned for updates on the new Jazz Concert Series and a very special Chamber Music Festival debuting at the Gardens in the summer of 2018.
The entire FBG family wishes to extend its sincerest thanks to the stalwart community supporters who are helping us bring our vision to life. Thanks to supporters like you, over 25,000 people have experienced the Gardens in 2017, compared to just 4000 a few years earlier. Our dream is to grow into a destination point that enriches our community by hosting transformative garden experiences for over 50,000 people every year. We’re honored to be joined by a loyal base of corporate and individual donors who are bringing us closer to this dream every day. Thanks everyone!
Two More Magical Garden Experiences left in 2017
Our season may be winding down, but there are still 2 more momentous garden experiences fast approaching. On Oct 28th the Gardens will host the second annual Haunted Trails and Ghost Stories Event. This evening of family fun proved to be one of our most popular events of last year, and we have an even more spook-tacular celebration planned this year, with face-painting, trick or treating and the renowned barbecue of the Up N’ Smoke Food truck.
Don’t forget to mark your calendars for the Thanksgiving Turkey Walk and Native American Heritage Celebration on November 23rd. Children can count the paper turkeys hidden throughout the Gardens for a chance to win a special Thanksgiving prize. Then, head down to the Native American Garden for a demonstration of traditional indigenous peoples’ cooking techniques. This afternoon of Turkey-themed fun has grown into an annual tradition for local families, and we’re looking forward to hosting our most memorable day of fall festivities yet.
None of the phenomenal progress of the last 3 years would be possible without supporters like you. That’s why we’re always eager to hear your comments and suggestions as we move forward. Feel free to contact us at 219 878 9885 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking for more ways to help the Gardens grow? Consider becoming an FBG volunteer! We have a variety of opportunities available to anyone who wants to help, no green thumb necessary.