JANESVILLE—Think of it as a giant garden party, except with food trucks instead of appetizers on tiny plates and 20 acres of award-winning gardens instead of someone’s well-arranged yard.
From 5 to 9 .m. Saturday, July 20, Rotary Botanical Gardens will celebrate its 30th anniversary with an event designed to honor its founder, the volunteers who provide thousands of hours of work and the garden lovers for which the place was designed.
Admission is $30 for adults and $10 for children ages 6-17. The cost includes a drink—alcoholic or otherwise—and a variety of food and other treats including roasted sweet corn, hot dogs or sliders from Steve’s Deli Dog House, root beer floats made with Gray’s Root Beer, and deep-fried cheese curds from the Rock County Dairy Promotion trailer.
In addition, one of the drink choices will be a botanical-themed concoction designed for the event by Lark, the Janesville restaurant known for its seasonally inspired food and drink.
Kids will enjoy the strolling magician, and RBG Board member and teacher Dave Bendlin will have a bunch of pond critters to share with kids. The Gary McAdams Band also will perform in the Gazebo Garden.
The event also includes an unusual fundraiser in which people have the chance to win a 2019 Chevrolet Equinox. To qualify, participants must hit a golf ball from the gardens into a canoe in the RBG pond. Those who manage to accomplish this feat advance to the next round, where they will try to hit a golf ball onto a green situated on a raft in the middle of Lions Pond.
Cost of participation is $5 for three golf balls.
“Yes, we did speak to the head of the Janesville Parks Department about it,” Executive Director Becky Kronberg said with a laugh.
Apparently, no one is willing to fish golf balls off the bottom of the pond.
The gardens will host another fundraiser—a silent auction—inside the Parker Education Center.
Kronberg said she thinks it’s important to celebrate the gardens’ anniversaries.
“I feel that every milestone is significant,” she said. “It’s so important to recognize all the people who put their blood, sweat and tears into the gardens, and to honor everything the gardens have accomplished so far.”
The gardens’ annual and special displays change greatly from year to year. New areas have been added that many community members have never seen, and there are still a surprising number of residents who have never been to the gardens at all, Kronberg said.
“Our tagline for our logo this year is ‘Rooted by Our Past. Growing for Our Future,’” she said. “We want to celebrate that.”