The Florence Area Chamber of Commerce has announced the theme for its 111th annual Rhododendron Festival.

“This year’s ‘Rhody Rendezvous’ theme intends to evoke a feeling of coming to Florence and meeting up with friends and family for a great time here in Oregon’s Coastal Playground,” says executive director Bettina Hannigan.

“It’s our 111th year, making us about a year older than the Portland Rose Festival but a little younger than Pasadena, California’s Tournament of Roses,” adds Hannigan. “After that many years we’re pretty sure that several generations of Oregonians and other visitors have rendezvoused around our rhodies many times.”

The festival takes place the third weekend of May each year, making it May 17-20, 2018.

Traditionally the Davis Shows Carnival opens on Wednesday afternoon at the Port of Siuslaw parking lot, the Rhododendron Court coronation takes place Thursday evening at the Florence Events Center, and the town begins filling on Friday. There is a junior parade on Saturday afternoon and the grand floral parade on Sunday. The event also includes a vendor’s fair in Historic Old Town, a spectacular rhododendron show along with live music, art, and other festivities at the Florence Events Center, and Three Rivers Casino Resort will host their annual motorcycle show and other fun only they can offer.

The Chamber is currently accepting applications for the Rhododendron Court and Junior Court, comprised respectively of young men and women who are currently seniors in high school, and girls in grades 1 through 5. Each year during the Thursday night kick-off event at the Florence Events Center, officials crown Queen Rhododendra and The King of the Coast as the event’s official ambassadors.

The Chamber’s board of directors is narrowing a list of grand marshals for the annual parade and plans to make its announcement in December. The board has contracted directly with Susan D. Johnson Design and Creative Wave Marketing Solutions of Florence to collaborate on a design for the event’s logo. Johnson’s designs have won the last six logo competitions, twice in collaboration with Creative Wave. The logo is used on ads, posters, lapel pins, t-shirts, regional marketing materials, and more.

The Rhody Court will sell coated metal pins featuring the logo. Proceeds go toward scholarships for Queen Rhododendra, the King of the Coast, and members of the Rhody Court. Pins are also good for discounts on clam chowder at many area restaurants.
“This year there will be a special emphasis on displaying rhodies on all parade entries, especially on the floats—even if entrants have to use artificial rhodies or make them from tissue or fabric,” says Hannigan. “We really want them to rock the rhodies for our grand floral parade as was the tradition in past decades.”

For more information about the festival, Rhododendron Court applications, parade entry forms, vendor fair applications, or event schedules, check the FlorenceChamber.com, or contact event coordinator Terry Abeyta at 541-997-3128 or events@florencechamber.com.