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 […]


The Florence Area Chamber of Commerce has selected the winner of a $250 cash prize in its 2017 photo contest. The organization was looking for the best photos of the fun, frolic, and iconic buildings and scenery, from Oregon’s Coastal Playground—an area up to 30 miles in any direction of Florence. More than 120 photos were entered. Steffen Hefley of Covington, Washington, entered the winning photo of her son running along the beach, happily dragging a long bunch of seaweed behind him. Hefley’s mother lives in Florence and created the “Dancing With Sea Lions” statue on exhibit at Sea Lion Caves. Hefley’s photo will be featured in the Chamber’s Visitors’ Resource Guide and other printed marketing pieces, on the Chamber’s website, and in social media. A panel of Chamber members selected the winner. “Steffen’s photo really captured a fun “playground” moment and expresses how great of a destination Florence is […]


Florence recently hosted the seventh-annual Wine & Chowder Trail Weekend. The ballots have been counted and a crab chowder offered by Novelli’s Crab and Seafood, located on the docks in Old Town Florence, was the winner of the Chowder Trail voting by several hundred participants. Other competitors included Beachcomber Pub, Bridgewater Restaurant, Firehouse Restaurant, International C-Food Market, Lovejoys Teahouse, Maple Street Grille, and Surfside Restaurant at Driftwood Shores which was hosted at Beach House Gifts. Amber Novelli says her secret ingredients include a proprietary Italian seasoning blend and a select white wine. This was the first year she entered the contest. She and husband Kyle Novelli have been commercial fishers together for seven years, though Kyle is a lifelong fisherman. The Novellis currently serve Florence and Newport, though plan to move soon to live and work full time in Florence. They sell only what they catch, direct to customers at […]


We all know how cool Florence is as a place to live and to vacation, but now Flights.com lists us as one of the “8 Coolest Cities You Must Experience for Yourself.” Flights.com touts itself as “the hip younger brother of Expedia,” the online travel agency that last year named Florence it’s most beautiful town in America. Jennifer Cuellar, writer for Flights.com, posts on her national blog “There are experiences we hold onto long after we travel. When it comes it our happiness levels, we can buy stuff, but studies show that experiences make us happier. And there’s no better way to experience life than to travel to new places. So the question is: Where should you travel next?” In her story Cuellar highlights the places that leave travelers surprised, intrigued, and marked by unexpected thrills. Her list included such famous—and out-of-the-way places—as Durham, North Carolina; Steamboat Springs, Colorado; Beach […]


The Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, the Siuslaw News, and community arts organizations have created the Florence Passport to the Arts, a pocket-sized guide to direct visitors and community members to the many galleries and public art exhibits in the Florence area. Those who obtain the Florence Passport to the Arts and complete its tour by collecting 10 stickers from participating locations will be eligible for valuable prizes. “Florence is so blessed to have so many talented artists. Whether it’s photography, painting, textiles, wood, metal, glass, music, stage, or whatever, our artisanal community is overflowing with talent. The Florence Art Passport is your guide to discover and explore the arts all around town,” says Bettina Hannigan, executive director of the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce. “.” “Florence is an art lover’s destination,” adds Jenna Bartlett, publisher of the Siuslaw News. “The galleries of Florence present art that is unique to […]


The Florence Area Chamber of Commerce is looking for the best photos of the fun, frolic, and iconic buildings and scenery, from Oregon’s Coastal Playground. “We call this place Oregon’s Coastal Playground for a reason,” says Bettina Hannigan, the Chamber’s executive director, “so we’re looking for outstanding amateur or professional photos that convey our coastal playground theme.” Hannigan says the winner will collect a $250 cash prize, have their submitted photo featured in the Chamber’s resource guide and other printed marketing pieces, on their website, and in social media. A panel of Chamber members will decide the winner. “Tourism is our leading industry, the backbone of our economy and quality of life. It accounts for 1300 jobs and 127 million dollars flowing through our community,” says Hannigan. “The best photos will express how great a destination Florence is for vacationing. “So download your best photos from you smartphone or camera […]


Ahhh, autumn on the Central Oregon Coast. Sunny weather, cooler temps, and a comforting bowl of clam chowder. Add a glass of your favorite varietal, sit back, and take in the scenic change of seasons in the air. If that sounds good to you, the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce has you covered with this year’s Wine & Chowder Trail experience. Enjoy a weekend of hearty chowders and tasty nibbles from local shops and restaurants, and samples of Oregon wines, October 7 and 8 in Historic Old Town Florence. In addition, the Chamber is bringing back the Great Glass Float Giveaway and live music at Gazebo Park in the heart of Old Town. Saturday, October 7, features the annual wine walk from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Pick up your wine passport and commemorative glass for $5 and tasting tickets for $1 each at Waterfront Wine Store, 1300 Bay Street. Sample wines […]


The Florence Area Chamber of Commerce’s Visitor Center, 290 Highway 101, features a different local art exhibit each month. Their September display of local artistry features a variety of pieces from members of the Florence Regional Arts Alliance (FRAA). The artists exhibiting at the Chamber in September represent more than 100 members and sponsors, all who share in FRAA’s mission of supporting all the arts, and making Florence an arts destination. FRAA is a non-profit art center and gallery at 120 Maple Street in Florence. “FRAA’s display features some amazing local work and we’re honored to have it this month,” says Chamber executive director Bettina Hannigan. “The Chamber’s visitor center should be on everyone’s list of shops and galleries if they’re interested in viewing great local art, and we change it monthly.” The September-only exhibit includes Florence and coastal-themed pieces such as watercolor paintings by Kim D. Miller and Marsha […]


The Portland Trail Blazers and Moda Health have announced that the Fifth Annual Rip City Relay will include a stop in Florence. On September 12, Florence will be the second stop on the weeklong journey around the state for a team of Trail Blazers and Moda ambassadors to engage with Trail Blazers fans, help build healthier communities, and showcase the Trail Blazers as “Oregon’s Team.” An entire day of events is scheduled in Florence. As part of the Trail Blazers’ and Moda’s partnership to showcase healthy and active living, events will focus on providing activities for kids, including school assemblies and basketball clinics. The visit will conclude with a ceremonial flag raising with city officials, followed by the Rip City Fair, a free community gathering featuring activities for all ages from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. at the Port of Siuslaw property in Old Town Florence. “The Rip City Relay will […]


In what may be a record-setting fire season in Oregon, residents in many parts of the state are getting smoked out. Desperate for fresh air, they’re willing to drive and stay a few days to escape the dangerous air quality and gritty particulate that gets into their eyes and lungs. Bettina Hannigan, executive director at the Florence Area Chamber of Commerce, and longtime volunteers in the Chamber’s Visitors’ Center, have noticed more people filtering into Florence, and out of the valleys. They’ve also see an increase in inquiries about Florence’s air quality. “We call them ‘smoke refugees,’” says Hannigan. “They’re drifting into the Florence area’s hotels and campgrounds to escape hazardous air all over the state.” “And there’s no fresher air than what comes in off the Pacific Ocean,” she notes. “We’re getting calls and visits from people rerouting their vacations. They’re contacting us from all up and down the […]