By Rick Haggard, INLA Executive Director

I was a little apprehensive going into this event, when I heard reports from earlier in-person events in the Midwest were down on attendance. Plus, I was given notice the week before our event that our passenger vans committed for the Summer Tour, were unavailable to us and being utilized for weekend racing events in Indianapolis. However, this group pulled together, made phone calls to get help, and said, “Not to worry; we’ve got it covered.” The group I am referring to is the INLA Summer Meeting Committee: Chair Kevin Van Sessen, Blade Cutters (INLA Board Member), with members Dean Ricci, Ricci Landscape Maintenance (INLA President), Wayne Gruber, Niemeyers (INLA member/volunteer), Robert Johnstone, Edgewood Landscape Supply (auctioneer), and countless others from the region. Special recognition: Steve Isakson, Bosak Motors for supplying transportation vans and INLA partnership.

Extra Recognition to: Julie Gillen and Vickie Newell for their dedication in processing registrations, organizing auction items, and compiling information to create a streamline event!
Special Assistance from: Kim Glass and Carlos Reichman of M.J. Schuetz Agency, for taking pictures and assisting with the auction.

Total raised for INEF from the auctions on Thursday and Friday $13,015!  Thanks everyone for making this another successful fundraiser and gathering!

Below are photos from two-day event as well as a detailed summary of the events — including the winners of the Shoot.

2021 INLA Summer Tour and INEF Shooting for Scholarships
Team Start to Finish – 3rd Place
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Day 1: INLA Summer Meeting Tours

Crown Point and surrounding locale (Central Time ZONE)

We departed the host Hotel – Hampton Inn in Crown Point at 8:00 am and it looked like a presidential motorcade as the number of vehicles leaving the hotel, were let’s just say several!
• Stop 1: Albanese Candy Factory
We viewed the craftsmenship of new INLA member, Mulder Maintenance and Services who landscaped and hardscaped the factory’s much utilized entrance. Owner Andy Mulder described the project to the tour. Yes, there was time at the end to go in and purchase some of the delectable offerings. By the way there was a second motorcade of INLA tourist at the facility that did not come to the hotel.
• Stop 2: Lakes of the Four Seasons Golf Course.
We discovered the array of plants that Kimberly White had utilized landscaping the entrance, parking, and 19th Hole Clubhouse.
• Stop 3: Joseph Wytovicz Residence — a Ricci Landscape Maintenance (RLM) project.
RLM work incorporated various motifs based on Mr. Wytovicz’s travels. The owner wanted to bring his travels home and RLM brought his vision to life. Due to limited access RLM used mostly manual labor to construct this beauty.
• Stop 4: Mulder Residence
Andy Mulder, Mulder Maintenance and Services graciously let the INLA tour his residence and showed us how your job can also offer a relaxing atmosphere for yourself at home.
• Stop 5: RLM’s New Shop
With assistance from Wayne Gruber, Dean showed us how you can make your shop into an educational atmosphere for your employees as well. The front line of the office offered numerous plant genus and species to help train employees with identification. The beds offered the employees visual and applicable training of proper groupings and health requirements.
• Lunch: Niemeyer Landscape Supply
Thanks to Nathan Niemeyer for opening up his facility to our group (around 80+ strong) to grab lunch catered by RedBarn Smokehouse and recharge. This is a great facility offering a multitude of options for landscapers.
• Stop 6 – McDermott Residence (RLM)
The McDermott residence offered a tranquil back yard with wooded areas surrounding the property, still allowing for a balanced landscape. The sounds from the water features made it very easy to relax plus, with a couple of synthetic practice greens in the vicinity as well as a fire basin; who would not want to come home?
• Stop 7: Rhodes Residence (Blade Cutters)
As Kevin described, the challenge of this project was fitting all the customer’s needs/wants into a confined space. Landscapers have the ability and capabilities to think outside the box when faced with limitations.
• Stop 8: Niemeyer Residence (RLM & Niemeyer)
Our lunch host also shared his residence with us. This project required some reconstruction and manipulations, like having to raise grade about 5 feet in order to create a breathtaking landscape from a “marshy” site.
• Tour Stop 9: Sawgrass Subdivision Entrance (Diamond Peak Homes/joint effort)
Wayne Gruber, Niemeyer, said this project was the culmination of several years of expertise in landscape, design, and construction disciplines and one that didn’t have much of a formal plan due to vastly differing concepts. Once they received approval to “go with what they know” their showcase entrance and focus on sustainable landscaping and materials, gave the owners a finished product they had envisioned.
• Tour Stop 10: Hart Residence (Blade Cutters) This project offered a unique look at creating a landscape that has layers to it — from the various hardscape to choice of plants. This project exemplifies how plants increase the enhancements of the home ­— accenting the hardscape.
• Tour Stop 11: Wayne Gruber Residence
Wayne’s home is the result of a plantsmith use his home as a display garden(s). Wayne’s gardens exemplify the meaning of “right plant — right place.” To make his point, Wayne pointed out that they wanted to build a 3-car garage but instead built a 2½-car garage to accomodate an established Tricolor Beech. His gardens also show how to incorporate the intricacy of your home’s architecture into the landscape.
• Stop 12: O’Drobinak Residence (Blade Cutters)
Kevin described how this partnership between client and companies can work in unison. Case in point, the client knew what they wanted and would purchase, bring home, and ask Blade Cutters to determine the best fit. Sometimes that meant creating an area to incorporate these items.

Tour Dinner and INEF Auction (part 1) at Dean Ricci’s Residence

An extra special thank you to Dean and Jamie Ricci for opening up their residence, spacial lawn, and gardens to probably 100+ people for this event.
Dinner was catered courtesy of Gamba Ristorante, Merrillville, Indiana by owners, Benito (Benny) and Hilda Gamba. After cocktails, dinner, and after dinner cocktails it was time for the auction that raises money for the INEF Scholarship. Before Robert Johnstone began the auction he asked for a “moment of silence” to remember Rob Delaby who in previous years always helped get the crowds and Robert energized for the auction. That night’s auction raised approximately $7,775.

DAY 2 – INEF Shooting for Scholarships

Back Forty Gun Club, Bourbon, IN

The INEF Shooting for Scholarships had seven teams of 5 shooters and two teams of 6 shooters for a total of 47 individual participants. Each person had 100 shots with 10 shots at each station.  Each member of the 1st place team won $100 cash and either a $50 Visa Gift Card or two $25 Cabela Gift Cards.
• 1st Place: Franco Team (score = 358)
Franco Team: Brian Franco, David Todd, Blake Herbst, Mike Broge and Brant Boram
• 2nd Place: RLM Team 1 (score = 355)
Dean Ricci, Joe Urbanski, Dan Weingart, Curt Olsen, Steve Toniff
• 3rd Place: Start to Finish Team (score = 350)
Matthew Kelly, Jett Yeary, Jordan McClain, Roman Solis-Garcia, Matthew Deinlein
• Individual High Score:
Brian Hominiuk (91 out of 100) $100 cash prize