Visitors to the Texas Rose Festival this week may feel they stepped into an Orient adventure. The celebration of Tyler’s rose-growing heritage will definitely have an Asian flair.
The theme, “Indochine: Year of the Dragon” will be carried out in everything from exotic costumes featured in the Rose Queen’s Coronation to the pagodas in the Tyler Rose Garden during the Queen’s Tea.
Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to descend on the Rose City for festivities that begin Thursday morning and continue through Oct. 21.
Presiding over events will be Rose Queen Haley McGrede Anderson, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Rowe Anderson. Miss Anderson is a sophomore communications and marketing major at the University of Alabama and a graduate of All Saints Episcopal School in Tyler.
Joy Lynn Ramey, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Henry King Ramey, serves as Duchess of the Rose Festival. She is a sophomore fashion merchandising major at Baylor University and a graduate of Grace Community School in Tyler.
The queen’s court is also made up of ladies-in-waiting, young women from Tyler families; out-of-town duchesses, women with families close to Tyler; escorts; and her young attendants.
The court will be presented during the Queen’s Coronation, a theatrically inspired production of music, narration and costumes that concludes with Texas Rose Festival Association President Tim Alexander symbolically crowning Miss Anderson as queen of the festival. She will emerge in full regalia and a shimmering jeweled train.
Performances are set for 2 and 7 p.m. Friday at the Cowan Center on the campus of The University of Texas at Tyler.
The Coronation chairmen said they were inspired by the theme. The audience will be treated to a story that captures the sights, sounds and cultures of Asia, Japan and India.
“We feel like we have hit either themes or iconography or histories and people from each of those regions to give a full picture of Asia and the Orient,” said Kelley Brownlow, who is chairman along with Ginger Young. “We thought that Indochine was going to be dynamic and fun interesting concept to take on.”
At one time, about half of commercially grown rose bushes in the United States were harvested from fields around Tyler that stretched as far as the eye could see. The area remains a major processing and distribution center of roses.
The first Rose Festival was held in Tyler in 1933. According to Frank Bronaugh’s history of the Texas Rose Festival, the celebration came together thanks to an outpouring of civic support spurred on by Mrs. M.R. Wilcox, an outspoken member of a garden club who had been charmed by the floral beauty of the Tulip Festival in Holland, Mich., and civic leader Tom Ramey who had witnessed an impressive display of Tyler Roses at the World’s Fair in Chicago.
The festival embraces both the beauty of the rose and Tyler’s rosy roots.
“Tyler is known as the Rose Capital of the World,” Alexander noted during a news conference earlier this year. “I think that the Rose Festival has played a large part in contributing to that identity. … The Rose Festival is all about celebrating the history and the heritage of Tyler.”
Following the ceremony, guests will get their first look at the Rose Show, a display of roses in an Asian-themed vignette. The Rose Show will be on view from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
The Rose Garden Center also will be the site of the Tyler Area Council of Garden Clubs’ Standard Flower Show on view from noon to 5 p.m. on Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
On Friday, the Festival Men’s Luncheon will take place at 11:15 a.m. at Villa de Felicita, on Texas Highway 110 north of Tyler. Ray Hunt, a Dallas businessman and petroleum industry leader, will be the speaker. The luncheon is sold out.
Laura Bush, the former first lady of the United States, will speak at the Ladies’ Luncheon set for 11:30 a.m. Friday in CrossWalk Conference Center at Green Acres Baptist Church. Tickets can be reserved by calling the box office of the Cowan Center, 903-566-7424.
The Rose Festival Parade steps off at 9 a.m. on Saturday. The route begins at Glenwood and Front streets, continues west on Front to the East Texas State Fairgrounds and ends inside Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.
A pre-parade show will take place in the football stadium.
The Queen’s Tea is set from 1 to 3 p.m. on Saturday in the Tyler Rose Garden. The queen and her court will be positioned under Asian-themed pagodas in the garden’s central court.
Other events are the arts and crafts and plant sale set from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21, in Bergfeld Park; the Palette of Roses Art Show Thursday through Saturday in the Mayfair Building on the East Texas State Fairgrounds; and an open house from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday at Goodman-LeGrand Museum.