ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Gardens, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Tyler Rose Festival


So, what do you have planned for the weekend?  Here’s something you might not have considered:  The Tyler Rose Festival.

My Love for Tyler Roses

If you’re a Dallasite, you might remember the days when Tyler roses were sold on street corners.  Teenagers standing next to metal washtubs offered roses wrapped in butcher paper or newspaper and bound with a rubber bands.  I don’t remember the exact price, but it couldn’t have been much, because during rose season I rarely showed up at my Mom’s without a bunch of yellow roses and didn’t have much in the way of discretionary income.  Sure you can stop by almost any grocery store today and pick up some roses fairly inexpensively, but that takes planning.  The serendipitous joy of spotting a Tyler Rose stand and buying the fragrant offerings has disappeared.

My affection for Tyler Roses began at an early age.  One of my uncles was night watchman at the Dallas Country Club.  Whenever I spent the night with Aunt Hiley, Uncle Herman would come home in the morning with an armload of Tyler roses.  One bunch would be for his wife, one for my mom and another just for me.  The Tyler Rose people delivered roses to the DCC just about the time my uncle finished his shift.  One time I was even allowed to go to work with Uncle Herman and the floral delivery is one of my favorite memories from that night.

About the Festival

When I thumbed through my October edition of Texas Highways the other day,  looking for fall activities to enjoy, an article about the Tyler Rose Festival on page 67 captured my eye.  One glance at the riot of color in their featured picture and I remembered  I’d been to the Tyler Rose Festival. I can’t be sure how long ago that was, but everyone was sporting shoulder pads.

The Tyler Rose Festival began way back in the 1930’s.  The rest of the world was suffering from The Depression, but oil was booming in East Texas.  A Tyler garden club decided to have a festival highlighting local rose growers.  They also hoped to prove Texas was not bereft of culture.  The result was a glamorous event carefully cultivated with plenty of fertilizer.

The roses are glorious.  According to the Rose Festival’s site, “Approximately one-fifth of all commercial rose bushes produced in the United States are grown in Smith County, while over one-half of the nation’s rose bushes are packaged and shipped from this area.”  So it stands to reason that Tyler “is home to the nation’s largest Municipal Rose Garden. From late April until frost, the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden blooms with nearly 40,000 rose bushes exhibiting approximately 500 varieties of roses. Over 100,000 people from around the world visit the Rose Garden annually.”

But there’s more!  One of the most coveted titles in Texas is “Rose Queen.”  The Rose Queen and her court reign over the festival with a pomp and circumstance worthy of a royal wedding.  The Rose Queen is crowned on Friday evening and she’s the star attraction of Saturday’s Rose Parade and Queen’s Tea.  Tickets to the parade are $3, but we’re all invited to the Tea.

Though I can’t remember what year I visited the Rose Festival, it had to be before 1992, because KTRE tells me that’s when the Rose Museum opened.  Exhibits include everything from equipment used in the cultivation of roses to Rose Queen coronation gowns dating back to 1935.  Faithful readers of my blog will quickly recognize the reason for my excitement concerning my visit to Tyler this year.

There’s a lot to do in Dallas in October.  You might be attending the State Fair, enjoying Autumn at the Arboretum or seeing The Promise in Glen Rose.  But if you haven’t yet made plans, don’t stay home.  October is Texas at its best.

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