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More Released About Central Oregon Coast's Florence Rhododendron Fest in May

Published 03/17/23 at 5:13 AM
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

More Released About Central Oregon Coast's Florence Rhododendron Fest in May

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(Florence, Oregon) – Just a couple of months ago, the central Oregon coast fave, Florence Rhododendron Festival, announced its theme for the upcoming May 18 - 21 incarnation for 2023 (although unofficially it gets started on the 13th). Now, it's announcing more details, including its logo and the grand marshal for its annual floral parade, among other tidbits. (Photo Oregon Coast Beach Connection)

This year's logo was created by Shaun Brown of the Florence Surf Shop (inside The Laughing Crab Gallery and Tasting Room, 1341 Bay Street, Florence). The vibrant piece depicts a classic, mid-20th century black pickup truck with a flame-embellished paint job, surrounded by multicolored rhododendrons, and the Heceta Head lighthouse. This is Brown’s second win in the last five years.

This year's theme has many shades of a classic car show vibe: “Rip Roarin’ Rhodies.” Now, the Florence Chamber of Commerce has picked local Mike Bones for the lofty spot of grand marshal, presiding over the Grand Floral Parade that takes over Highway 101 at noon on Sunday.

Courtesy Florence Chamber of Commerce

“Mike Bones personifies this year’s ‘Rip Roarin’ Rhodies’ theme", said Bettina Hannigan, Florence Chamber president and CEO. "He is tremendously gregarious with an infectious spirit, a lot of fun, and is known to many in these parts for his longtime interest and expertise with our famous flowers. He’s also a lot like our logo for this year--bright, colorful, beautiful, and he really pops.”

Throughout the event there will be a vendor’s fair in Old Town, a spectacular rhododendron show at the Florence Events Center, and live music, art, and other festivities and activities all over town.

Bones and his wife Kathy were named Florence First Citizens in 2005 for their community service. They founded Bones Nursery in 1978, specializing in rhododendrons and azaleas. They've definitely had a hand in the central Oregon coast's annual pageantry and rollicking good times.

“With all his accolades and achievements, it’s his dedication to our festival that truly elevated Mike to grand marshal status this year,” said Hannigan. “During Covid, when the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce was unable to host the Rhododendron Festival, Mike walked the parade route both years, pulling a wagon full of rhododendrons while waving to those passing by. He single-handedly kept the event alive through all that adversity.”

Hannigan said this event is the kickoff to the summer tourist season at what is known as Oregon’s Coastal Playground. The festival, its carnival (with all its regulars who are return fans every year), Rhododendron Court, parades, classic car cruise, vendor fair, and flower show all serve as a kind of green light to the season.

“It’ll be another rip-roarin’ time as we celebrate our local natural beauty and famous flowers,” Hannigan said. “We invite everyone to come enjoy the pageantry of the second-longest running floral festival in Oregon.”

This is the 116th year of the fest, by far the longest-running on the Oregon coast. Only the Portland Rose Festival clocks in with a larger number of years. It sees thousands of visitors from around the state and across the country.

While the festival gets its full start on the 18th - always the third weekend in May – it actually opens the Saturday prior, May 13. This features the coronation of Queen Rhododendra, the King of the Coast, and their royal court at the Florence Events Center; and with the Davis Shows Carnival at the Port of Siuslaw property in Historic Old Town.

Oregon Coast Beach Connection

“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,” adds Hannigan. “It’s a family tradition, an Oregon institution that has drawn generations of attendees.”

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, contact event coordinator/director for tourism development Mitzi Hathaway at or 541-997-3128. See

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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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