Great Lakes Regional Hosta Society - Tailgate Party
Dan Adams, Chicago, IL 

There's a new phenomenon that has come roaring out into the hosta world - The Hosta Tailgate Party!  As the name suggests, it is to be thought of as being patterned after the pre-game cookout parties held in a stadium parking lot, just prior to the start of a home football game.  Each year, a Great Lakes Regional Hosta Society (GLRHS) club member is given the game ball to play the "home team" to the event.  The opening ceremony commences with a cookout, with the playbook rules determined by "flip of a coin" (Nah ... just kidding!).  Actually, the play rules are determined by the planning committee, who will create a feasible game plan.  Individual players/participants are allowed to bring plants along for sale, barter or just to show them off.  A fund-raising plant auction is conducted as the "Fireworks Show" of the evening.  The next two days consist of leisurely all-day visits by individuals and tour buses to participating nurseries and private gardens.  Maps and directions are provided online on the GLRHS website, at the Friday night host house location, or at most of the private gardens.
The three day event began on Friday afternoon, June 28th, with the Northwest Indiana Hosta Society taking the offensive.  Approximately 150 hungry hosta enthusiasts converged over to the grounds of Bev and Dave Stegeman's home in Chesterton, IN.   Were they waving team pennants?  Well, let's hope so - for they definitely had something to root for!  For a relatively small $5.00 donation, they were feted to a grand Hog Roast ... with unlimited access to seasoned pork, seasoned red potatoes, salad, cole slaw, bread and rolls, a choice of beverage and dessert to finish things off.  For early birds, plant sales and trades were conducted on the grounds earlier in the afternoon.  It was indeed fortunate that two pitched white tents had been set up, side by side, over the dining area.  As the plant auction was conducted afterwards, a monstrous cascade of rain opened up from the heavens above.  This "Monster of the Midway" held reign for most of the equally lively auction.  While the tents provided ample shelter to the audience, were they afraid of this turbulent weather?  Nah, they were on a mission from God ... for there were hostas to be had! 

That large Friday night storm front turned out to be a great weather relief for those Saturday and Sunday garden walks.  The weather was partly cloudy to sunny, with temperatures never exceeding 74 degrees. These garden walks were divided into two regions:  North and South. 

North Region:  Comprised of five private gardens, one is also a nursery.  Participants visited the private gardens of Judy & Stephen Kroczek, Bev & Dave Stegeman, Olga Petryszyn, the Brincka-Cross Garden (now a county park), and Dan and Carla Coffman, owners of Trillium Woods Nursery. 

South Region:  Comprised of 4 private gardens and two nurseries.  Participants visited the private gardens of Mary Bardens, Peggy Sierzputowski, Ginny Feyes, Brian McKay and the nurseries of Fox Hosta Farm and Gardens on The Prairie. 
H. 'Liberty'

All of the gardens were spectacular, as the comfortable weather served to amplify the breathtaking ambiance of these magnificent places.  While all places were well attended by individual walk-ins that showed throughout the day on both days, busloads of garden fans came a-rumblin' in, too.  They came from areas as diverse as Kalamazoo, MI, Indianapolis, IN, and Chicago, IL.  Their brief stay at any one location was usually for 45-60 minutes, before the respective team coach blew their whistles, announcing the game clock had run out.  Never fret though - it would be reset once again at their next appointed destination.  Besides hostas, viewers delighted at seeing greatly assorted collages of daylilies, perennials, grasses, confiers and rare trees.  Plants were offered for sale at a number of stops, satisfying the need of those who really needed to bring a "gotta have" memento of their unforgettable trip back home. 

The game ball to next year's Hosta Tailgate Party event will be handed over to the Miami Valley Hosta Society in the Dayton, Ohio, area.  

H. 'Ebb Tide' Brincka/Cross home entrance Kroczek Garden Petryszyn hybrid
Brincka/Cross Garden Petryszyn hybrid Hakone Grass Kroczek Garden Art
Furnessville RoundKrozcek Bird BathPetryszyn Garden
All photos by Joanna Kovalcsik

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