Free admission days change at Rotary Gardens
Free admission attendance
Rotary Botanical Gardens began charging an admission fee April 15, 2009, and offering free admission the first Wednesday of the month.
Below is the number of people who took advantage of the free day each of the past three years:
-- 2009: 1,155 for 6.6 percent of total 2009 attendance
-- 2010: 1,360 for 7.7 of total 2010 attendance
-- 2011: 1,068 for 5.7 percent of total 2011 attendance.
Rotary Botanical Garden admission fees
April 15 through Oct. 31
$5: Adult (16 and older)
$3: Youth (6 to 15)
$15: Family (immediate)
Free: Child (younger than 6)
Free: Friends members
January, February, March
-- Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
-- Saturday and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.
April 1 through Oct. 31
-- Daily, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
November and December
-- Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
-- Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
JANESVILLE Rotary Botanical Gardens officials predict attendance will increase after it changes free admission days.
"We're going to do a lot more promoting of what days are free or partially free," said Gary Smith, interim executive director at the gardens, 1455 Palmer Drive.
The executive committee suggested changing from free admission the first Wednesday of each month, he said.
"It's a new way to market the gardens," Smith said.
Instead of six free days a year, seven days will be free admission for everybody and seven will have "special admission."
All the dates between April 25 and Oct. 31 have been set, but not all are being released, Smith said.
"We want to use it as an opportunity to market and promote the gardens a little stronger," he said.
He gave some examples:
-- Admission will be free for everybody April 20 and 21, when the gardens will be selling trees in collaboration with the Janesville Kiwanis Blackhawk Golden K Club members.
-- Admission will be free for everybody Arbor Day, April 27.
-- Admission will be free for everybody one day in May.
-- Mothers will be admitted free on Mother's Day.
-- Fathers will be admitted free on Father's Day.
-- Admission will be free on National Public Garden Day, May 11, for people who have a coupon from Better Homes and Gardens magazine or website. The coupons for free admission to any public garden are part of a national campaign.
-- The gardens also is considering a free admission day for military personnel and their families, a senior day and blood donor day, Smith said.
"We really wanted to make special days. So we're just trying to provide an opportunity to recognize people and to do additional community service," he said.
The gardens began charging admission in 2009 to help maintain the gardens.
"We were surprised at how few people were upset, especially out-of-towners who would come in and even when we weren't charging expected to have an admission fee," Smith said.
Admissions generate about $50,000 a year, he said.
No admission is charged Nov. 1 through April 14.
People take advantage of the free days, Smith said.
"Attendance on the first Wednesday of the month was much higher than normal and especially if the weather was good," he said.
Smith said he believes the admission fee changes will boost attendance.
"I really do," he said. "We're trying to build this into something special and also will promote it a lot heavier."