The Texas Rose Festival in Tyler, Texas
The Texas Rose Festival is a 3-day event held annually in Tyler, Texas. The festival, that began in 1933, celebrates the role of the rose-growing community in the local economy. The event takes place in the third week of October every year. Furthermore, this event is an opportunity for young adult females, typically sophomores in college, to come and be presented to the community as a way of introducing them into a new fashionable society. In this way, the Texas Rose Festival has become an extremely popular and somewhat exclusive debutante activity in East Texas.
Backstory and Context
The second main event held during the festival is the Coronation of the Queen. This event is arguably the biggest reason why the Texas Rose Festival is still in existence today. During the Coronation of the Queen, young sophomore women in college are presented wearing lavish dresses and costumes to thousands of people at a large convention center. While the Texas Rose Festival may have been started in remembrance of Tyler's early rose production, its continued success is mainly due to the debutante side of the Festival. This part of the Rose Festival is very exclusive. The Queen must be from Tyler and is typically from a family with a wealthy background and past involvement with the Festival. Once a Queen has been selected, the other women are separated into two different groups, the "Ladies in waiting" and the out of town Duchesses and escorts. The ladies in waiting consist of a small group of women from Tyler whose families have had involvement with the festival for a long time. In other words, you must be from Tyler to have the opportunity to become a lady in waiting. The Duchesses and other escorts are either sponsored by a family from Tyler that is in the Festival or invited by a family that lives in Tyler and has affiliation with the Festival. Since the Coronation showcase is generally meant for the women, the escorts have a much easier job and less of a problem getting into the Festival. On the night of the coronation, the Duchesses are presented first, followed by the Ladies in waiting, who are followed by the Queen. The men, or escorts, walk them across a large stage for the audience to admire and then wait as each lady does a bow to the audience. This is by far the biggest event during the Festival. Tourists from all over the nation flock to Tyler in October to see the beautiful dresses and admire the even more beautiful pageantry. Countless hours go into the planning and preparation of this coronation. The last main event is the Rose Festival Parade. Early Sunday morning the town wakes up and attends a huge parade consisting of floats, bands, and local sponsors. In addition to that, the Queen and her entire court are all on their own floats, dressed in their beautiful dresses for those who didn't get to see the Coronation the night before. Each float is decorated in accordance with that year's Festival theme and has a member of the Coronation riding it. This is an absolutely beautiful sight to see. There are also several other smaller events that take place during these three days. The most notable of these is the Queens Tea. During the Queens Tea, the Queen and Ladies in waiting are all displayed throughout the rose garden. The Tea's purpose is to allow the visitors and audience a chance to come and talk to the members of the Festival while simultaneously taking a few pictures. This event usually caters to the younger children who don't quite realize they aren't actually meeting a real Queen. However, it is also a chance for past members of the Festival to come and reminisce on their past experiences through conversation with the current festival members.
Though the actual debutante is somewhat exclusive, the Texas Rose Festival and its events as a whole are open to anyone who pays for a ticket. Thousands of tourists come to the Texas Rose Festival for the beauty that this event continuously portrays, and each year is different and more exciting than the last.