Wow. It really was nothing short of wild…
Who knows, maybe it was the sunshine on Friday and Saturday. Maybe it was the pent-up frustrations of a winter that brought some of the wettest weather to Oregon in recent memory.
Or, maybe it was just time to have a party.
A huge turnout of visitors and residents combined to over-flow nearly all of the venues and activities in Florence for the 105th annual Rhododendron Festival. Even Sunday morning drizzle couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm for the Grand Floral Parade.
Things started Friday night when Marisha Reavis was crowned Queen Rhododendra 105. She’s not the only Rhododendron Queen in the family, her grandmother Jolece Hartzell Reavis won the crown in 1957. Samantha Rodriguez was first runner up this year, and also Miss Congeniality.
A near record turnout for the Rhody Run Saturday morning, coupled with almost a thousand entries in the Rhododendron Society flower show at the FEC set the tone for the day and 225 classic cars and trucks were on display at the Grocery Outlet Center for the Rhody Show and Shine sponsored by the Beachcombers Car Club. Later that afternoon the Old Town area was crammed with thousands of visitors to the carnival, the Maple Street Vendor Fair and the annual ‘people watching’ along Bay Street.
Sunday’s drizzle didn’t seem to dampen any enthusiasm for the Grand Floral Parade. Just over 80 entries made their way along the parade route that was lined with several thousand people. The Grand Marshall’s Award was given to the float produced by the Florence Elks Lodge, while the Mayor’s Trophy went to the Queen’s Float that was built by Siuslaw Bank. Meanwhile, the Queen’s award went to the entry from Fred Meyer.
Oregon City High School’s Marching Band, directed by Siuslaw Alum Dana Henson won 1st place in the marching bands, followed by Phoenix High School and the Oregon City Middle School band.
TR Hunter Real Estate’s Cavemen won 1st place in the commercial float division and the Florence Dance Guild was first in the non-commercial segment. The U.S. Coast Guard was the favorite Service Entry and the Rhody Cruisers took top honors in the vehicle division.
And, the top equestrian entry went to the dancing horses from Ixtapa Mexican Restaurant.
The judges at the Rhododendron Society Flower Show had their hands full Saturday morning as they went through almost a thousand different trusses to pick out their favorites. When the doors opened to the public at one in the afternoon Saturday, the Best in Show went to an entry from Larry and Sandi Jensen… they also won the Sweepstakes based on the highest number of points scored. Don and Jeannie Shields won the other two top categories, entering the best native rhododendron or “Macrophyllum”; at the same time they took home the “best hybrid or species” category.
Cars are always a large part of the Rhody Festival and this year they lived up to expectations as about 225 entries were on display during the show and shine Saturday. The 20th annual show was dedicated to the original founder, Jim Bales, of the Beachcombers Car Club. The Best of Show – Car went to a 54-Chrysler New Yorker Wagon owned by Jay Norton. The Best of Show – Truck, went to an entry owned by Mark Sprando. And the Best of Show overall went to Tim Gerdes and Kelly Given. Later Saturday evening about 140 of those vehicles cruised to the oldies in the 20th KCST Classic Car Cruise. The Best in Cruise category was given to a 1935 Auburn Roadster owned by John and Maggie Machi (mock-ee) of Florence.
Something new was added to the Old Town area this weekend. In addition to the hundreds of motorcycles that lined both sides of Bay Street and wrapped around the corner up onto Maple past the carnival, there was an art project going on as well. It was called a “yarn bombing”. Several of the street trees, utility poles and street signs in the Old Town area were wrapped with knitting and crocheting. Not much is known about the ‘yarn-bombing’, only that it was the work of Florence based artist Trudonna. Word is that Yachats is next on the list of communities to receive a similar treatment.