FLORENCE — Great pageantry, civic pride, fabulous flowers, and festival fun will mark the 112th annual Florence Rhododendron Festival May 17-19, 2019. “Rhody Fest” is Oregon’s second-longest running floral festival.
The Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, with its team of dozens of volunteers, puts on the big event. The highlight will be the grand floral parade at noon on May 19. It begins at 27th St. and Highway 101 and travels about three miles to and through Historic Old Town Florence. This year’s grand marshal is the Heceta Head Lighthouse. The lighthouse is celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2019.
This year’s Florence Rhododendron Festival officially beings with the coronation of Queen Rhododendra and the King of the Coast on Wednesday night, May 15, at the Florence Events Center. Members of the court have been selling festival pins for $3 to raise money for scholarships. The pins are also good for $1 off a bowl of chowder throughout May at participating restaurants around town. The list currently includes… Bay Street Grille, Clawson’s Wheelhouse, The Hukilau, The Firehouse, ICM Restaurant and Traveler’s Cove.
The Davis Shows’ Carnival, now it its 50th year in Florence, opens at 3 p.m. Wednesday May 15. Discounted all day unlimited carnival passes are on sale now for $21. Buyers save $7 by buying passes at the Chamber’s office, 290 Highway 101, until 3:00 p.m. on May 15.
The street fair, beginning at the corner of Bay and Laurel Streets in Old Town, is expected to feature more than 30 vendors and exhibitors. The street fair will be Friday 2-10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 .m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Saturday’s schedule is packed with fun for everyone. The 40th annual 5K Rhody Run & Walk starts Saturday at 9:00 a.m. at the Florence Events Center, 715 Quince St. Participants can pre-register at EclecticEdgeRacing.com.
The annual kid’s Junior Parade, coordinated by the volunteer firefighters of the Siuslaw Fire District is Saturday at noon. There will be games with lots of prizes sponsored by the Florence Kiwanis Club at the end of the parade route at 27th and Oak Streets.
The American Rhododendron Society’s Siuslaw chapter will again host the annual rhododendron and azalea show and plant sale at the Florence Events Center on Saturday and Sunday. The exhibition is open for anyone to display their flowers. Those wishing to enter their prized cultured or local wild rhodies must register Saturday, May 18, from 7-9 a.m. Judging will start promptly at 9:00. The show will open from 1-5 p.m. after completion of the judging, and reopen at 10 a.m. Sunday. The plant sale starts at 10 both mornings. There is more information on the plants and the event at siuslawars.org.
Also at the Florence Events Center will be the annual Florence Regional Arts Alliance arts festival. It takes place from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday.
The annual Coast Radio KCST/KCFM classic car cruise is Saturday from 5-7:30 p.m. Staging takes place at the Rhody Cruisers’ Classic Car Show’s annual show-n-shine at 21st St. and Highway 101 in the Grocery Outlet and City Lights Cinema parking lot.
The Do-Wah Riders, the nationally-touring high energy country band with a cajun twist perform at 4:00 p.m. Saturday at the park behind Ixtapa Restaurant at 10th and Highway 101. They’ll also perform at the KCST cruise and the parade. The multi-award-winning “ultimate Elvis,” Justin Shandor, performs Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the FEC.
The Chamber is looking for banner carriers aged 9 to 17 for Sunday’s parade. Each young registered volunteer will receive a free pass to the Davis Shows carnival (a $28 value). Parents/guardians must submit permission/ applications by May 10. The Chamber is also seeking volunteers for a number of other fun opportunities throughout the festival. To volunteer, contact the Chamber at info@FlorenceChamber.com or call 541-997-3128.
The Rhody Express, Florence’s public transit bus, will offer free rides within city limits Friday from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m.
The Florence Area Chamber of Commerce’s executive director, Bettina Hannigan, says this year’s festival theme, “Coastal Canvas” highlights the Florence area’s arts community and opens the door showing off the area’s natural beauty alongside the beauty crafted by local artists. “We live in an open canvas and we can use what is around us to build upon to thrive as a community. We have outstanding visual arts, culinary arts, theater/performing arts, and more here in the Siuslaw Region. It’s all part of why we are known as Oregon’s Coastal Playground.”
For more information on the 2019 Rhododendron Festival, contact the Chamber at events@FlorenceChamber.com or 541-997-3128.