The Rhododendron Festival
The vibrant Rhododendron flowers begin their bloom in May, and by June the Florence area is a bounty of colors. The sight is a cause for celebration and The Rhododendron Festival! It has long been the major annual event for Florence. It began as an idea in 1906 of Mayor Dr. George Edward, for an event to promote a then isolated Florence. It was a plan to bring folks from afar for a festive town celebration! And come they did – arriving for the event by horse drawn stagecoach, then by train, then automobile. And thus, the legacy began. The Rhododendron Festival has since become among Oregon’s oldest celebrations.
In 1908 decorated boats paraded on the Siuslaw River with the coronation of a Queen Rhododendra taking place on a barge. Today, Queen Rhododendra and King of the Coast are selected with a pageant and coronation held at the Florence Event Center. Princesses and Jr. Princesses are included to complete the Rhododendron Festival Court.
With all the activities and celebrations, the Rhododendron Festival attendance has grown each year, with over 35,000 in recent years. The festival is held every third weekend in May, with various event activities taking place throughout the week.