Yesterday afternoon, I had the pleasure of meeting with April Fallon, the new wedding and event coordinator for Michigan City’s International Friendship Gardens. It had been years since I toured the gardens and it was wonderful to hear about how they are working very hard to revive it.
I never knew the history of Friendship Gardens, and learned that it is celebrating it’s 80th year this year. Friendship Gardens was started by three brothers, Virgil, Joe and Clarence Stauffer as a garden for the Chicago World’s Fair “Century of Progress”. Dr. Frank Warren and his wife, founders of Pottawattamie Park, liked the park so much that they invited the brothers to move the park to Michigan City and deeded the park to them for just $1 a year for 100 years. The brothers worked diligently to create the beautiful park that you see today. Friendship gardens truly is international. They gained support from many different countries and received surprising amounts of goods. Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands donated 200,000 tulip bulbs, King George V donated plants and even a royal gardener! The King of Persia sent plants for the rose garden. Today what you see are many different spots throughout the gardens that celebrate these countries.
As you walk the grounds of Friendship Gardens there are many open spaces. There is a small lake and bog and beautiful spots for a wedding or graduation party. There are also several more rugged trails to explore, the longest being the wilderness trail at .7 miles. Overall, there are approximately 2 miles of trails.
This summer, the folks at International Friendship Gardens are doing their best to promote and remind people of this wonderful spot right in the center of Michigan City. They are planning several events, one of the biggest being a concert under the stars. On July 11 th they are bringing Johnzo West to the garden with the hopes that music there can gain in popularity and almost become a “Mini Ravinia”. They will have beer from Burn Em Brewery, wine from Shady Creek as well as food trucks. Tickets can be purchased here.
International Friendship Gardens is open from Mother’s Day thru October, Wed-Sun, but if you become a member (just $35 for an individual and $50 for a family), you have access to the grounds year round from dawn to dusk. You also receive fishing privileges and for certain memberships you can receive a milestone brick. Friendship Gardens is dog friendly as long as they are on a leash!
For more information visit FriendshipGardens.org or call 219-878-9885. They are always looking for more volunteers. Cost is $5 for adults, free for children under 12. Members have free access.