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1910 Rose Festival Postcard
1910 Rose Festival Postcard Courtesy Oregon Historical Society

Portland Rose Festival

This 25-day rose festival bursts into bloom each June, celebrating the City of Roses with parades and entertainment for all ages and interests.

Oregon's premier civic celebration has been a Northwest tradition since 1907, but its roots reach back to 1837, when the first rose bush was imported. These beautiful flowers flourished in the Portland climate. In 1889, the Rose Society held its first rose show in a tent. In 1904, the society began holding a "fiesta" with its annual exhibit. In 1904, it added a parade, which included decorated surreys and four automobiles.

In 1907, the floral parade was accompanied by a two-day festival to celebrate the rose, and the "Portland Rose Carnival and Fiesta" was born. Never before had an American community dedicated an annual festival to the beauty of a rose. Following in 1907, ten businessmen formally organized the Portland Rose Festival into a nonprofit civic enterprise to plan and refinance the next event. One thousand shares of capital stock were sold for $10 per share.

Since 1931, the festival's queen has been a high school senior chosen from a court of members representing each high school. Festival royalty consists of the queen and 13 court members. The festival association awards each royal member with a college scholarship. By 2000, $400,000 had been distributed through the scholarship program. Parades remain the star attraction of the Portland Rose Festival. The grand parade is the second largest all-floral parade in the country, drawing an audience of half a million people along the parade route and reaching 20 million more viewers by national television broadcast. Other events include the state's largest airshow, cart races, dragon boat races, milk cart boat races, and a festival of bands.

Documentation includes a text report, promotional literature, historic photographs, a video, and a tape and book, For you a Rose Grows in Portland, documenting the festival's history.

Originally submitted by: Gordon Smith, Senator.

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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