Roses & Royalty; 88th annual Rose Festival returns to Tyler

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Photo of a huge robe with roses and embellishments for the Tyler Rose Festival
Photo of a huge robe with roses and embellishments for the Tyler Rose Festival
Photo by Maaleesha Jordan
The Queen’s Tea invites both members of the court as well as the
general public to participate in a coronation-attire event. The
general public has an opportunity to meet and take pictures with
the court among the 14 acres of roses in the Tyler Rose Garden.

After last year’s cancellation, Tyler will celebrate the 88th annual Rose Festival Oct. 14-17. The 7th Annual Roses in the Park will be Oct. 9 at the Bergfeld Amphitheater.


The Rose Festival is an important stamp in Tyler’s history, bringing together the community and many tourists to celebrate this tradition.


Visit Tyler’s President Shari Lee said, “It really is the pinnacle event that the city puts together and has for so many years.”
Every year the Rose Festival accumulates many tourists, which accounts for a large economic impact to the city.


“We could go anywhere from 20-30, possibly even 40,000 people on average who attend the Rose Festival. We anticipate there is a $2(million)-3 million economic impact that the festival brings to the city,” Lee said.


So what makes roses in Tyler so special? The answer is found in the ground.


“It dates back to the very beginning,” Lee said. “There was an industry that produced some of the nation’s largest amounts of peaches. Unfortunately, there was a peach blight that wiped out all of the peach trees. The farmers were trying to look for the crop they could grow and they found the soil in Tyler is perfect for roses.”


The significance of the festival doesn’t only lie in the roses, but also in other aspects such as the royal court’s attire.
“The Queen’s dress is elaborate and beautiful and it takes over a year and a half to make. All the ladies-in-waiting and the Duchess’ dresses are made in their own special way for that particular girl,” Lee said.


The Rose Festival Board of Directors chooses the royal court, and the festival president makes the final decision.


They consider the ladies’ volunteer work, previous involvement in the festival, and familial connection when making their decisions.
This year’s court will include: the queen, Anna Grace Hallmark, princess Elizabeth Reid Walker, and duchess Emily Ann Milton.
Some students have had the opportunity to be a part of this event by walking in the parade within particular organizations.


TJC freshman Sarai Gonzalez said, “I participated with the Brigadettes. My favorite part of the parade was seeing everyone from Tyler come together as well as seeing the faces of people light up as you walk by! It was a very memorable experience.”
Due to COVID, safety guidelines will be set in place as a health precaution for visitors and participants.


“The Rose Garden Center is under COVID guidelines like social distancing and the opportunity to wear a mask, which is highly recommended,” Lee said.


The founding of the Rose Festival happened decades ago when roses from Tyler caught non-localists’ attention.


“There were people that traveled to New York’s World Fair and they saw that roses were on display,” Lee said. “They asked, ‘Where are these roses from?’ and they were told Tyler, Texas. This particular person was from Tyler and they were just thrilled. They said, ‘That’s my hometown. People may be interested in roses after all and maybe come to see our city.’”