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Full and Complete Rundown of Oregon Coast's Florence Rhododendron Fest

Published 04/25/22 at 5:22 PM PST
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Full and Completel Rundown of Oregon Coast's Florence Rhododendron Fest

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(Florence, Oregon) – Grand pageantry, a flurry of flowers, and a deep sense of civic pride: all of this ties together with festival fun on the central Oregon coast next month with the 115th annual Florence Rhododendron Festival on May 18 to 22. “Rhody Fest” as it's known, is the second-longest running floral festival in the state. (Above: dawn at Florence, courtesy Florence Chamber of Commerce)

Florence Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Bettina Hannigan said with the two-year absence a lot of people are excited to get out and have a party. Organizers just released the full and complete roster of events and features for this year's Oregon coast attraction.

The big shindig 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.

This long-standing and wondrous weekend also boasts 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. More on these can be found in the Events Tab of the chamber's website, FlorenceChamber.com.

The chamber has only two and a half paid staff, but there's an army of volunteers who also help put on the massive event. Always a highlight for this part of the Oregon coast, the grand floral parade begins at noon on May 22. It starts out at 27th St. 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 3A 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.

Davis Shows Northwest is as much part of the Oregon coast traditions as the flowers: the company has provided the Rhododendron Festival with safe, fun family carnival rides, games, and food for over 60 years now. The famed carnival opens up on 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 3:00 p.m. on May 15. Passes will be $35 at the entry to the carnival on May 15.

The Annual Maple Street Vendor Fair begins at the corner of Bay and Maple Streets in atmospheric Old Town, where they're expecting some 30 vendors and exhibitors. This particularly engaging collection of handmade items happens 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 9:00 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 9:00 a.m. at Siuslaw Middle School and races begin at 11:00 a.m. The middle school is also the site for the 28th annual Rods N Rhodies classic car show & shine from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 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 7:00 to 9:00 a.m. Judging will start promptly at 9:00. The show will open from 10:00 to 5:00 p.m. after completion of the judging and reopen at 10 a.m. Sunday. The plant sale starts at 10:00 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’s 10th annual arts festival. It takes place from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Saturday and 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Sunday.

Classic rock band “Ruckus” performs Friday and Saturday nights from 8:00 p.m. to midnight at Blue Bills inside the Three Rivers Casino Resort.

The Chamber is looking for banner carriers aged 9 to 17 for Sunday’s parade. Each registered volunteer will receive a free pass to the Davis Shows carnival (a $30 value). Parents/guardians must submit 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.

Hannigan said 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. Tourism employs about 1900 of the 4600 workers in Florence and pumps around $119 million into the local economy. With all this fun, and everything else there is to do in and around Florence, it’s no wonder why we are known as Oregon’s Coastal Playground.”

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