Since 1991, the Friends of the Texas Rose Festival has held the “Everything’s Coming Up Roses!” luncheon. Following a pause in 2020, a large gathering celebrated volunteers, families and participants Wednesday at the Hollytree Country Club.

Jennifer Moore Gaston, the featured speaker, turned down an opportunity to be part of the Texas Rose Festival when she was in college. She said someone brought her roses and she changed her mind as she became Duchess of the Rose Growers in 1983. She also worked in rose fields. Gaston, the editor-in-chief at Tyler Today Magazine, was the Texas Rose Festival Executive Director from 1995 to 2007.

“Smile and be happy, this is the time to shine and have fun. Be kind to each other,” Gaston said. “It’s about moments between mothers and daughters and fathers and sons and something we hold dear to us here.”

After talking about the history of the rose festival, Gaston said, “The friends you make and the confidence you gain, is something that is not talked about, but you really blossom as a young lady. The Rose Festival will become a conversation starter and Tyler will be a conversation starter for years to follow. Have fun, represent your best self for you, for your family and for the Texas Rose Festival.”

Texas Rose Festival Queen Anna Grace Hallmark, Princess Elizabeth Reid Walker, Duchess of the Rose Growers Emily Ann Milton, ladies-in-waiting and their mothers were in attendance.

The theme of the Texas Rose Festival is “Secrets of the Garden,” and the tables at Hollytree were decorated with fresh-cut roses. The parade is Oct. 16 on Front Street and Glenwood in Tyler, going to Christus Trinity Mother Frances Rose Stadium.

Carolyn Brooks said Friends of the Texas Rose Festival was organized to promote the enjoyment of roses and the rose industry. A group of 22 friends in 1991 hosted a luncheon honoring the duchess of the rose growers, the queen and the Tyler court. This continued in 1992 with a luncheon and a rose variety display during the festival in October. In 1993, the group was organized as Friends of the Rose. Each year, the Friends of the Rose organization comes together to celebrate festival and its court. Friends of the Rose has many members, including former duchesses of the rose growers, rose queens, families of rose growers and members who simply enjoy the beauty of roses.

Angie Brooks, Duchess of the Rose Growers in 1994, welcomed guests to the luncheon. Janie Stewart offered the prayer, and piano music was provided by Karen Norman.

Lori Brooks Carver, Duchess of the Rose Growers in 1991, and mother of the 2021 Duchess of the Rose Growers, Emily Milton, recognized the previous festival court members and festival volunteers in attendance. Alice Milton, her daughter, presented gifts to the ladies of the court.

The Friends of the Rose Members are Angie Brooks, Kay Breedlove, Margaret Burkhart, Shannon Tate Burton, Judy Carnes, Teresa Carroll, Lori Brooks Carver, Leslie Breedlove Daly, Pamela Daniels, Cindy Gaddis, Jennifer Tate Guajardo, Jill Brooks Howard, Sylvia Moore Jones, Kim Martin, Diana Taylor McMillan, Elizabeth Smith Ortega, Marie Smith, Alexis Smith, Amy Dunwoody Solberg, Leah Walters Weikel, Callie Worthen, Kay Bates, Carolyn Brooks, Addison Burton, Kathy Byrd, Leanne Carnes, Taylor Carroll, Marie Cartwright, Jan Nix Cook, Betsy Marsh Ellis, Judy Geddie, Rose Giles, Carol Godwin, Allison Hand, Karen Hand, Helen Holland, Modena Jernigan, Alice Milton, Emily Ann Milton, Gayle Payne, Samm Singleton, Janie Stewart, Bobbie Tate and Thonda Worthen.

Friends of the Rose is sponsored by Roses USA, Tate Family, Jernigan Lone Star Realty, Hand Nurseries, Oliveto Italian Bistro, Lowe Tractor of Tyler, Ran-Pro Farms, Mazzio’s Pizza and Brooks Farm.

 
 

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John is a two-time national columnist of the year and AP award-winner in Texas and New York for breaking news, videos and sports. He earned the Thomas J. Bulson Investigative Journalism award and has appeared on CNBC's American Greed, FOX and CNN.