Newton Arboretum receives tourism grant from city

Apr. 27—Newton Arboretum & Botanical Gardens was approved to receive a tourism grant from the City of Newton for its upcoming Spring Plant Sale.

According to city documents, the arboretum was approved for the Newton Hotel-Motel Tourism Grant Program and will be provided about $942 to help with its annual event on May 3 and May 4. The sale draws big crowds, and as of last year volunteers began actively marketing to all of Jasper County.

Inspired by the "Star Wars"-related date in which the event falls on (May the "fourth" be with you), the spring plant sale has been dubbed "The Garden Awakens." The current plans are to hold a VIP sale from 5 to 7 p.m. on May 3 for first choice of inventory and purchasing raffle tickets to win one of two Blackstone grills.

The sneak preview of the sale will require a $5 entry fee. Volunteers will also encourage guests to have lunch in town and go shopping or visit the women's wellness event at Legacy Plaza after purchasing their plants for the spring season.

The Newton Hotel-Motel Tourism Grant Program is a way for the city to fund numerous community projects, special events and initiatives through Local Hotel-Motel Tax. The purpose is to encourage the development, continuation and promotion of events that attract visitors from outside of Newton.

Application deadlines are October 1 and April 1 of each calendar year. Grant amounts may range from $500 to $2,500 and should represent 25 percent of the total project budget. All applicants have to meet with community development staff prior to submitting an application.

Ina Heidemann, a volunteer for Project AWAKE, which operates the Newton Arboretum, promoted the spring plant sale during the April 15 council meeting.

"We have the plants you're looking for," she said.