For decades, Shepard Garden and Arts Center in McKinley Park has served as Sacramento’s clubhouse.
Ranging from bonsai growers to textile artists, club members gather at the landmark building to learn more about their hobbies. Almost every weekend in spring, the center hosts themed shows or sales open to the public.
This weekend, Saturday-Sunday, March 18-19, most of those 32 clubs will be represented among the 40 participating groups at the center’s annual spring sale, a major fundraiser for these local nonprofits.
“It will be a mix of the clubs that use the center plus some outside arts and crafts vendors,” said center President Ken Rothaus, a longtime member of the clock collectors club. “We’ll have food and music. Hopefully, it will be nice weather, too.”
This will be the first spring sale since the city-owned center’s control shifted to the clubs that use it. Last year, the center’s volunteer board of directors signed a new five-year lease with the city of Sacramento’s parks department. It went into effect April 1, 2016.
The deal is unusual, noted Rothaus, who’s served as center president since 2008. The city doesn’t charge the board rent, but the board and the clubs it represents are now responsible for paying for the center’s operation. That includes its two part-time employees.
“It’s actually really nice,” he said. “A lot of organizations don’t have that kind of deal.
“In the past, the city ran the center, and we were just overseers,” he explained. “With the new lease, we became employers. Luckily, I retired at the same time, so I had time to take on more responsibilities.
“We have to do now a lot of things we didn’t have to think about before,” he added, such as garbage service or equipment maintenance. “The money collected from the clubs (for event rent) is strictly used to run the center. This year, it’s been kind of challenging as we find our equilibrium.”
The city still takes care of the actual structure and safety concerns, he said. “One of the problems we had before is we couldn’t get things fixed. We’ve had a lot of deferred maintenance.”
In January, a 60-foot chestnut tree that shaded the center’s patio fell during a violent windstorm. The tree’s branches nicked the roof but fortunately did no major damage.
“I was impressed; the city came right out and cleaned everything up,” Rothaus said. “We plan to replace the tree. We’re working with the Sacramento Tree Foundation, but we’re going to have one more in the 30- to 40-foot range, something that fits better in that patio.”
Meanwhile, Rothaus hopes more Sacramentans discover what the center has to offer. It’s available for rent year round – not just to clubs but to the public.
“The center’s been a treasure for the clubs,” Rothaus said. “Actually, it’s a treasure for the whole community.”
Other spring events at Shepard Center
- March 25: Sacramento Perennial Plant Club vendor sale
- April 1-2: Capital City African Violet Society show and sale
- April 8-9: American Bonsai Society spring show
- April 15-16: Sacramento Iris Society show
- April 22-23: Sacramento Chrysanthemum Society spring cuttings sale
- April 29: Sacramento Rose Society show
- May 6-7: Sacramento Cactus and Succulent Society show and sale
- May 13: Sacramento Geranium Society show and sale
- May 20-21: Satsuki Aikokai bonsai show
- June 3: American Fuchsia Society show