May 4, 2022 — Great pageantry, civic pride, fabulous flowers and festival fun will mark the 115th annual Florence Rhododendron Festival May 18 to 22. Rhody Days is Oregon’s second-longest running floral festival.
According to Florence Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Bettina Hannigan, with the two-year absence, a lot of people are excited to get out and have a party.
This year’s festival gets underway Thursday, May 19, at noon with the Davis Shows Carnival at the Port of Siuslaw Boardwalk and the 6:30 p.m. coronation of Queen Rhododendra and the King of the Coast at the Florence Events Center.
The long weekend also features the annual Rhododendron Society Rhody Show, daily carnival games and rides, the 5K and 10K Rhody Run/Walk; the Rods N Rhodies Classic Car Show and Shine; the Maple Street vendor fair in Old Town, a quilt show, junior parade, Pinewood Derby and Sunday’s grand floral parade at noon on Sunday, May 22. Complete festival information can be found on Events tab of the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce’s website, FlorenceChamber.com.
The Chamber, with its two-and-a-half-paid staff and a massive team of volunteers, puts on the big event each year.
The highlight will be the grand floral parade at noon on May 22. It begins at 27th Street and Highway 101 and travels about three miles to and through Historic Old Town Florence. This year’s grand marshals are the Siuslaw Vikings state champion football team and girl’s and boy’s state champion cross country teams.
Members of the Royal Rhododendron court have been selling official festival pins for $3 to raise money for scholarships. Pins are available at a number of merchants around town and at the chamber’s visitor center.
For more than 60 years, Davis Shows Northwest has provided the Rhododendron Festival with safe, fun family carnival rides, games and food. The carnival opens Thursday, May 19, at noon. Discounted all-day unlimited carnival passes are on sale now for $30. Buyers save $5 by buying passes at the chamber’s office, 290 Highway 101, until 3 p.m. on May 15. Passes will be $35 at the entry to the carnival on May 15.
The annual Maple Street Vendor Fair, beginning at the corner of Bay and Maple Streets in Old Town, is expected to feature more than 30 vendors and exhibitors. The vendor fair will be Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday’s schedule is packed with fun for everyone. The 32nd annual 5K and 10K Rhody Run & Walk starts Saturday at 9 a.m. at the Florence Events Center, 715 Quince St. Participants can pre-register at EclecticEdgeRacing.com or on site beginning at 7:30 a.m.
The annual Pinewood Derby registration opens at 9 a.m. at Siuslaw Middle School and races begin at 11 a.m. The middle school is also the site for the 28th annual Rods N Rhodies classic car show & shine from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
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 21, from 7 to 9 a.m. Judging will start promptly at 9. The show will open from 10 to 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 Florence Regional Arts Alliance’s 10th annual arts festival. It takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Classic rock band “Ruckus” performs Friday and Saturday nights from 8 p.m. to midnight at Blue Bills inside the Three Rivers Casino Resort.
Hannigan says this year’s festival theme, “Back In Bloom” highlights the return after a partial two-year hiatus. “This town is ready to celebrate. Rhody Fest is the semi-official start to our tourism season.”
For more information on Rhododendron Festival events, visit FlorenceChamber.com.