The joys of Texas wildflower season in the spring are well known, but fewer are familiar with the colorful array of carefully cultivated blooms celebrated each fall in East Texas.
Fragrant rows of rose bushes greet visitors virtually year-round in Tyler, where the Texas Rose Festival has been a local institution since 1933. The area is home to about 10 rose growers and nurseries, including one of the nation’s largest, that send them all over the country. Fall has traditionally been a time to celebrate the harvest of bushes, although the local industry is now more involved in processing blooms and plants for sale.
This year’s rose festival is October 15-18, featuring a rose show, pageantry and acres of gorgeous blooms to enjoy. Saturday is the main day of activity, with the parade kicking off festivities at 9 a.m. Another favorite is the Queen’s Tea from 1-3 p.m., which is free and open to the public, giving visitors the opportunity to see the Rose Queen and her court in lavish gowns. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Royalty of the Under Water Realm.” Event organizers introduced a kickoff concert last year, which was such a big hit that it will be back for 2015 on Saturday in Bergfeld Park.
Even if you miss the main event, there’s still ample time to stop and smell the roses through October. “This time in Tyler is so popular that a few years ago we expanded the festivities into a Rose Season,” says Holli Conley, assistant vice president of marketing for the Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau. “This way, if visitors aren’t able to make it to town for the Texas Rose Festival, they can still visit, enjoy touring the rose garden and a multitude of other events.” Activities include historic home tours, art and historical exhibits, wine tastings, a horse show, birding excursions and educational workshops.
A full list of Rose Season and Texas Rose Festival events can be found at www.visittyler.com/calendar.