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Florence, Oregon's Rhody Fest Gears Up for May's Big Start on Central Coast

Published 4/20/24 at 7:45 p.m.
y Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

(Florence, Oregon) – A major family event institution in Oregon is getting ready to drop loads of fun on visitors and locals alike, as the 117th edition of the Florence Rhododendron Festival begins preparations for its run of May 16 to 19. The central Oregon coast tradition is going by the theme “High Tides and Good Vibes” this year, now the second oldest flower-centric celebration in the state, right behind Portland's Rose Festival.

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It's what Florence Area Chamber of Commerce president / CEO Bettina Hannigan calls a lot of “fun and pageantry,” and it's releasing full details of all its events and aspects (see the Florence website).

Rhody Fest – as it's often called – is just one year younger than the Portland shindig, but actually winds up the third oldest such festival on the West Coast when compared to the Tournament of Roses in Pasadena, California.

“Thousands come from around the world to celebrate with us every year on the third full weekend in May,” said Hannigan. “It’ll be another year of ‘good vibes’ as we celebrate our local natural beauty and floral superstars.”

The great big bash actually informally opens up the weekend just before the official date, with May 11 hosting the coronation of Queen Rhododendra, the King of the Coast, and their royal court at the Florence Events Center.

Florence's Rhody Fest hits official full throttle with the always-anticipated Thursday opening of the Davis Shows Carnival at the Port of Siuslaw property in Old Town.

See one of Florence's unique, rarely-talked about scenic treasures: Cox Rock on Central Oregon Coast.

Saturdays always feature the annual 5K Rhody Run and Walk, the junior parade and kids’ activities, the annual and the Coast Radio Classic Car Cruise through Old Town. This year it's the 30th Annual Rhody Classic Car Show ‘n’ Shine, presented by the Florence Lion’s Club. This time around will include all years, makes, and models of American, British, VW, and Porshe vehicles from 9:00 to 3:00 at Siuslaw Middle School. Then on Sunday, find a spot in Historic Old Town for the grand floral parade down Highway 101 beginning at noon.

Throughout the event there will be a vendor's fair in Old Town (Maple Street), a spectacular rhododendron show and the Florence Regional Arts Alliance arts festival at the Florence Events Center; and live music and other festivities and activities all over town. Three Rivers Casino Resort will run a shuttle to Old Town every 15 to 20 minutes on May 17 and 18. Check for details and a downloadable brochure with full information, dates, times, and locations.

“Generations of families have enjoyed the annual Florence Rhododendron Festival by attending, enjoying the Davis Shows carnival, exhibiting their rhododendrons, showing off their classic cars and motorcycles, being in the parades, and shopping and dining in Old Town and all around town,” said Hannigan.

Hannigan reports that the festival, with all its attractions, serves as the unofficial kickoff to the summer tourism season - a season that adds $320 million to the local economy and employs about 2700 of the roughly 5000 workers in Florence.

For more information on the annual Florence Rhododendron Festival, including applications for exhibitor space, parade entries, or to volunteer on the Chamber’s Rhody Fest committee, visit or contact event coordinator/director for tourism development Mitzi Hathaway at or 541-997-3128. MORE PHOTOS BELOW

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Andre' GW Hagestedt is editor, owner and primary photographer / videographer of Oregon Coast Beach Connection, an online publication that sees over 1 million pageviews per month. He is also author of several books about the coast.

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