Button, button—who’s got a button?
By the third weekend of May, Rhododendron Festival organizers hope everyone in Florence will have, and be wearing, one of this year’s Rhododendron Festival buttons. And this year, there is a delicious, old-fashioned benefit that comes with pin ownership. Get your pin here.
This year’s pin follows the festival’s theme, “Always Ready to Rhody”—a motto borrowed from the Coast Guard’s “Semper Paratus,” or Always Ready. In honor of the Coast Guard’s centennial anniversary in Florence, USCG Station Siuslaw River was chosen to be this year’s honorary parade grand marshals. The festival button features the Always Ready motto, an anchor, a patriotic red, white, and blue color scheme, and the traditional rhododendron bloom.
The Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, organizer of the May 19-21 event, is bringing back two of the festival’s past traditions—metal campaign-style buttons and clam chowder.
For many years of their history, the Rhody Festival buttons were round, enameled, tin pins. In more recent times, the pins were a smaller metal die-cut shape or a cloisonné-style, and thus more expensive. In an effort to make the buttons more affordable, the committee is offering the “old-fashioned” coated metal pin for $3 this year. Proceeds go toward scholarships for Queen Rhododendra, the King of the Coast, and members of the Rhody Court.
So what’s the chowder connection? As an incentive to purchase buttons, local restaurants are offering $1 off a bowl of clam chowder to each person wearing a 2017 Rhody button through the month of May. Participating restaurants will have a sign posted at their entrance and a participant’s list will be posted at FlorenceChamber.com. The idea for the clam chowder discount harkens back to the days when clam chowder booths were located along the Rhododendron Festival’s parade route. Save a buck at these restaurant the entire month of May! ICM, Siuslaw Riverside, Le Bouchon, Bridgewater, Bay Street Grille, Beachcomber, Firehouse, HomeGrown, Bay View Bistro and the multi-award winning Driftwood Shores Surfside.
The new Rhody buttons can be purchased from any of the Rhododendron Court members, from their button boxes found at businesses in Florence, and at the Chamber of Commerce Visitor’s Center, 290 Highway 101.