The Rose Garden Center had a fairytale-like feel Thursday morning as Tyler’s oldest and largest annual celebration returned.

The 88th Texas Rose Festival kicked off with a ribbon-cutting and morning prayer service, just two of what will be a string of events through Sunday celebrating Tyler’s rose-growing heritage and status as Rose Capital of the United States. The theme of this year’s festival is “Secrets of the Garden.”

The Rose Garden Center was home to a colorful display of more than 7,000 rose blooms popping in pinks, reds, purples, yellows and other colors. The display inside the center will remain throughout the festival events and is free to the public.

The festival was canceled last year due to COVID-19.

Texas Rose Festival President Bruce Faulkner joined Queen Anna Grace Hallmark and her court members for the ceremony to announce the opening of the events for the festival.

During the ceremony, Debra Hammons sang “What a Wonderful World” while Gary Blevins played piano. Joseph E. Strickland, bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, opened the ceremony with a prayer.

Tyler Mayor Don Warren gave a proclamation declaring Oct. 14 as the official opening day of the 2021 Texas Rose Festival and talked about how important the festival is to the city.

Liz Ballard, executive director of the Texas Rose Festival Association, also emphasized the impact the festival has on the community.

“The Texas Rose Festival’s mission is to promote tourism and commerce for Tyler, encourage volunteerism and celebrate the history of the rose industry,” Ballard said. “The Festival brings in over $2.9 million into our local economy through tourism, hotels, shopping, dining and more. It was greatly missed last year and we can’t wait to be back in action this year.”

For more information and complete list of events, go to


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Multimedia Journalist

Multimedia journalist Jessica Payne covers several counties in East Texas. In 2011, she left her hometown Houston for East Texas. In 2016, she left the 9-5 office routine to pursue a passion for sharing inspiring stories and engaging with the community.