Stems: A Garden Soirée, an annual fundraiser, allows attendees to bask in art, music and community while contributing to the growth of local organizations

Amid the intensity of a Kansas City winter, complete with icy roads and (too many) inches of snow, one can only imagine an evening spent outside enjoying their green, lush surroundings. On June 22, Stems: A Garden Soirée is the (perhaps long-awaited) opportunity to not only savor warm weather and explore beautiful gardens but to also participate in a fundraiser. Emily Lane, communications manager for the Arts & Recreation Foundation of Overland Park, says that people choose to attend the event for many reasons.

“The first of which is that is it a wonderful party,” Lane says. “Who doesn’t love to have a glass of wine on a warm summer night in a bucolic setting? We find this event is a great reminder of all the [Overland Park] Arboretum & Botanical Gardens has to offer. It’s open 364 days a year, and there’s always something new to see or do. People who attend also love knowing they are supporting important places in our community, and giving back.”  

The event, hosted by the Foundation, began in 2008 and is its largest, annual fundraiser. According to Lane, proceeds from the evening support Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead, the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens and public art programs in Overland Park.

“All of these causes benefit from private support to operate, so the Foundation is integral to their success,” Lane says. “We have a tremendous group of sponsors who choose to devote funds to supporting these worthwhile causes.”

In addition to the event, the Foundation has launched a “Growing to Inspire” capital campaign which will provide funding for a new, 22,000-square-foot visitor center at the Overland Park Arboretum. Lane mentions their plans include “additional parking, new outdoor spaces (gardens, reflecting pools, a new pond, event terraces, and a great lawn) and the first phase of the new Sculpture Garden and amphitheater.

“In total, the plan will improve 38 acres and will be an incredible addition to an already beautiful space,” Lane says. “We hope to break ground in late 2019.”

Stems: A Garden Soirée has something for everyone to enjoy–food from various local restaurants, fireworks after the sunset, music and bars with wine, beer and cocktails–all while enjoying lush surroundings at the Arboretum.

“Attendees wander the paths taking in all the sights, sounds, and smells and receive a hand-painted souvenir wine glass at entry from which to imbibe their drinks of choice,” Lane describes. “It also serves as a wonderful opportunity for networking as we have more than 2,000 attendees!”

While the event itself offers so much to soak up in one summer evening, it is also an opportunity to slow down and indulge in your surroundings.

“Personally, I love to wander the gardens and pathways with my cold glass of white wine, listen to the music as well as the chirping crickets, and meet new people,” Lane says. “In a world where you have to make so many decisions each day, at Stems you get to relax and enjoy and let the event lead you.”