Organizers of Saturday afternoon's Arbor Day Garden Fair at Awbury Arboretum said their primary goal was best represented in a single word: "Friend-raising."

"Fundraising is a big part of what we have to do for our respective groups," said Kathy Lieberman, a board member of event co-sponsor My Place Germantown.

"But, we wanted to expand awareness of Awbury and My Place Germantown and expose ourselves to more people and get them to understand the work that we both respectively do," she continued. "We decided that this was more a 'friend-raiser' than a fundraiser."

Something for everyone

Nearly 100 old and new friends attended an event which featured tours of the arboretum's 55-acre spread, activities for children and gardening classes from staff of the arboretum.

Local vendors such as Zea May's Food Truck and Little Jimmie's Bakery provided food, and several local businesses donated items for a raffle. Staff from the historic Grumblethorpe home in Germantown also gave a hand-cranked ice-cream demonstration.

Beth Miner, Awbury's director of outreach and community engagement, agreed with Lieberman's sentiments, adding that she was pleased with the number of attendees who were local residents but had never before set foot on the grounds.

"One of the things we're striving to do better is helping people bridge that gap and actually set foot inside and see what's happening here," Miner said of an urban location which produces a unique "green space."

"A lot of arboretums are in the suburbs or places where the demographics are pretty different from here," Miner said. "So, we have the opportunity to really connect with communities who might not generally have access to green spaces."

About the co-sponsor

Mary Ellen Graham, founder and executive director of My Place Germantown, said that the organization, which provides permanent housing for men with special needs, is a "community-based place."

"We wanted to have something that all sorts of folks could participate and enjoy," Graham said. "I wanted it to be that if you have a few dollars, you can come and enjoy the arboretum."

Attendee reactions

Many of those who attended the garden fair said they would likely return to the arboretum in the future.

"We've been passing this for 20 years so we finally got to come and see what it is," said Carol Lumond, a Montgomery County resident who attended with her husband after hearing about it through their local church.

Germantown's Terry Trudeau had also never been to the arboretum. She brought her two grandchildren and one of their friends to the fair.

For seven-year-old Teora Milson, the garden fair's games and piñata smashing stood out as highlights.

"It's cool because of all the grass and games," Milson said. "I actually chose to go here over this earth day event at my school."