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|The Oregon Coast’s 106th Annual Rhododendron Festival in Florence|
May 17-19 2013
The Florence Rhododendron Festival is the second-oldest flower festival in Oregon and third - oldest on the West Coast and is just one year younger than the Portland Rose Festival. The Oldest flower festival on the west coast is the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena, California.
The Rhododendron festival celebrates the wild rhododendrons that thrive along the Oregon Coasta nd officially begins on Friday evening with the Rhody Pageant to crown "Queen Rhododendra." The festival includes a wide variety of fun and events throughout the weekend include parades, flower show spotlighting specimen rhododendrons grown by coastal inhabitants. car show, arts and craft fair, 5K run, carnival and much, much more.
There have been some changes to Florence since the first Rhododendron Festival of 1908. The population has grown from fewer than 500 to almost 7,000. The streets are paved, a bridge spans the river, and telephones and cars are commonplace. The town has a new library, convention center and justice center. Old Town has been renovated, and the lakes and beaches bring many tourists every summer. Logging, farming and fishing are no longer the major industries; in fact, they have all but disappeared. The Florence Rhododendron Festival has grown to over 100 entries and has become an annual event that attracts over a 15,000 visitors. Yet some things remain the same. Each spring the wild rhododendrons bloom in the hills and fields of Florence as they have been doing for 1,000 or more years, and the white-pink flowers still represent the end of winter and the imminent arrival of summer. Each year there is a parade and a Rhododendron Queen, and each year beautiful wild flowers of Florence echo the theme of the first Florence Rhododendron Festival, “Watch Florence Grow."
Rhododendron is the common name for the flowering plants of a genus in the heath family which contains over 850 species. They are native to the Himalayas, southeastern Asia, the mountains of Malaysia and the coast of the Northern Hemisphere. In Florence, Oregon<, the beautiful white-pink plant begins to bloom in May, and by June the surrounding area is lush with its warm, radiant colors.
To the early pioneers, and present residents, the flower was a sign that summer was not far off and that the wind and rain of winter would give way to a warmer, kinder weather. It was only natural that the city planners used the rhododendron as the theme for the first town celebration, for the rhododendrons were seen as proof that God was fulfilling his eternal promise of renewal and rebirth, of hope and everlasting life. This, then, is a brief history of how a small town on the coast of Oregon celebrated the coming of spring, the growth of the town and the hope of its people.
Three Rivers Casino joins in with:
Come and celebrate the coming of spring on the Oregon Coast…