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Stems: A Garden Soiree

A Garden Party

Stems is the garden party of the summer. Sip wine, taste food from top restaurants and caterers, and enjoy art, music and fireworks at the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. The best part is that it’s all for a great cause—proceeds ensure programs and capital improvements as our cultural and recreational gems continue to grow.

Development Director Jennifer Cairns says this year will be bigger and better than ever.

“Stems is the perfect combination of a laid-back evening wandering the gardens and a night filled with music, delicious drinks, flavorful local foods, and festivities galore,” says Cairns. “The event is integrated into the Arboretum’s signature gardens, and this year that includes the gardens and grounds surrounding LongHouse, the new 21,000 square foot visitor center. We are so excited to be able to expand the party. From the great lawn, to the event terrace, to the hidden garden, the new event spaces give our guests additional options to explore and reason to celebrate growth at the Arboretum. Stems brings people from throughout our community together and is the perfect venue for friends or a special date night. Our network of community supporters and sponsors enjoy hosting their clients and employees and spending an evening socializing under the stars.”

Guests receive a hand-painted wine glass to use throughout the evening and can take home as a souvenir. Wines, beers, spirits, cocktails and non-alcoholic beverages will be served along with a wide variety of tasty tidbits—past menu items included crab cakes, barbecue, orange shrimp, prime rib sandwiches, tiramisu, fruit crêpes and fried cheesecake. 

Some of the most popular vendors at the event continue to be the activities, including the balloon artist and photo camper.

“We love seeing our guests all dressed up for a party wearing whimsical hats or accessories crafted from colorful balloons. The photo camper is hugely popular, sending guests home with a themed souvenir photo of their evening. We will also have a caricature artist, live music and even more fun, all-inclusive in the ticket price. The evening culminates in a dazzling display of fireworks reflected in the Arboretum’s water features.”

What inspired the creation of Stems was combining fun with a good cause.

“The Arts & Recreation Foundation Board of Directors created Stems back in 2008 to achieve several goals,” says Vicki Lilly, Executive Director. “The first goal was to create a signature summer event in Overland Park that brought people to the Arboretum in its early summer glory—the beauty of the Arboretum in late June is truly breathtaking. The second goal was to offer a really fun way for individuals and the business community to support the foundation’s work. While Stems is a wonderful combination of being both casual and elegant and so much fun for attendees, it is vital to the foundation achieving its mission.”

Sponsors, donors, volunteers, and attendees have helped raise over $3.6 million. The donations collected from the event have helped the Foundation raise even more funds for Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead, the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens and city art installations.

“All of the funds raised are used by the Foundation to support our Friends groups who work throughout the year to host community-loved events that make expansions and enhancements at our city’s cultural amenities possible. In partnership with the City of Overland Park, we will be building a new Draft Horse Depot at the Farmstead and working to create an inclusive experience at the Arboretum called Nature Encounter for All.”

Don't miss the chance to sip, savor, and socialize under the stars at the most anticipated garden party of the summer on Saturday, June 24th at the Overland Park Arboretum. Located at 8909 West 179th Street, this event is only for guests 21 and older. For more information, visit