What started in 1988 as community supporters gathered in the Gardens for an ice cream social, has now grown into a day full of fun activities, appreciation, and commemoration. The 33rd annual McCrory Gardens Garden Party will reflect on those who have given so much passion and time, allowing the gardens to be what they are today.
Norm Evers created the annual garden party as an opportunity to seek out sponsorship and allow the community to come and appreciate the Gardens. Norm was the director of McCrory Gardens from 1984-2004. His 42 years of devotion to South Dakota State University and the Gardens are present and appreciated to this day. Norm was responsible for some of the most loved aspects of the gardens, including the little cottage.
“We would not have the little cottage if it was not for Norm.” Said Lisa Marotz, current Director at McCrory Gardens. As the story goes, the cottage was a gas station in Lake Preston that Norm used to drive by on highway 14. After it became available, he made the connections to have the cottage brought to McCrory.
Over the years the cottage has sustained some wear and tear, no longer sporting the original doors and missing glass in the windows. “We are happy to be in the process of fundraising for its restoration,” said Marotz, “We would love to get this turned into a place where we could host tea parties or include it in other events that people could enjoy.”
Norm’s vision for the garden was nothing short of spectacular. At the original garden party Norm unveiled his plans for what he imagined McCrory to be. “To know that Norm and the Fishback family stood here with former SDSU President Wagner and talked about how we will have a rock garden and an iris bed in the next year while looking at blank spaces. Who has that kind of vision?” said Marotz.
Something Norm was very passionate about was his philosophy on maintaining the gardens. His naturalist vision can be seen when you look around the gardens, you’ll see that the trees are not trimmed up. He believed you should just let the plants grow as intended. His unscripted style is recognized and appreciated by the thousands of visitors that come to McCrory Gardens each year.
Norm’s vision of the two-acre plot dedicated to Sam McCrory in 1964 of formal gardens and an arboretum morphed the gardens into a place of tranquility, beauty, and happiness that will be enjoyed by all community members and visitors for years to come.
“There is so much history here. I am now in my 5th year as director and now that we have the right people in the right places, we can focus on how we can continue to learn from and lift up the original intentions of McCrory. A lot of people put a lot of heart and soul in here.”
Norm passed away December 31st, 2020. His memory and commitment to McCrory Gardens will be honored at the 33rd Annual Garden Party Friday August 6th at 6:00pm.
This year the Garden Party will include classes, workshops, tours, live music, food and of course SDSU ice cream. See a full schedule of events for the party here.