If you ever wondered how those fancy floats in the Texas Rose Festival parade are constructed, or who grows some of Tyler's roses the search for answers is over.
Two new learning opportunities are among a dizzying array of activities offered this week and next as Tyler touts its standing as the best place in the country to enjoy the rose season, officials said.
“It's going to be a crazy, awesome weekend,” Kim Morris with the Tyler Convention and Visitors Bureau said. “There's just so much to do — these three weeks are really the biggest tourist time for us all year.”
The 78th Texas Rose Festival starts Thursday and runs through Sunday, highlighting the beauty of Tyler's 2011 Rose Season that runs through Oct. 23.
A portion of the festival proceeds will be used for future upgrades to the Tyler Rose Garden, Texas Rose Festival Association President Tom Ramey III, said.
There's more festival fun to come, starting Thursday with tours of parade floats under construction, a first for the festival, organizers said.
Self-guided tours are available from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday at the East Texas Fairgrounds.
“That's going to be a really, really neat opportunity to get a sneak peek at the floats,” Ms. Morris said. “As a spectator, you come to the parade and cheer and watch, but there's a lot of work that goes into it.”
The actual parade rolls around 9 a.m. Saturday, featuring a new look and marching bands from around the state, Rose Festival Parade president Chris Jones said.
Organizers said with so many activities in Tyler to choose from, initial projections call for possibly record-breaking attendance.
“We average about 82,000 to 86,000 visitors during the Rose Festival, which runs Thursday through Sunday,” Ms. Morris said.
But those figures do not include an accounting for the entire, three-week season, she said, noting a more encompassing tally, including economic impact, will not emerge until well after the event.
“We get so many people coming to Tyler to see the roses,” Ms. Morris said. “A lot of horticulturists and gardeners come to town to learn about growing them.”
A detailed listing of rose season and festival activities can be found at ww.TylerRoseSeason.com.
Another first for the festival is a series of landscaping workshops planned for Friday at the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden Center, 420 Rose Park Drive.
Workshops kick off at 10 a.m. with “All About Roses” seminar on rose care basics presented by Craig Reiland, Horticulturist and Tyler Rose Garden Supervisor.
At 1 p.m., Mark Chamblee of Chamblee Rose Nursery presents “Why EarthKindŽ — How to Create Your Own Earth-Friendly Garden of Roses,” outlining the benefits of “green” growing practices.
At 3 p.m., Tyler arborist Luke Porter and Mayor Barbara Bass plan to offer “The Mayor's Tree Initiative Tree Planting,” featuring the best methods for planting trees.
Explore Tyler's rose gardens with a series of tours offered at these locations: Chamblee's Rose Nursery, Tyler Municipal Rose Garden, Sister Cities Garden and Goodman LeGrand Museum & Gardens.
Brochures are available on-line at www.TylerRoseSeason.com and in front of Tyler City Hall, 212 N. Bonner Ave.
Downtown Tyler's inaugural “Show Us Your Shorts” comedy film festival at Liberty Hall kicks off today and runs through Saturday with special break-out education sessions.
“This event was planned intentionally to complement the Rose Festival dates and offer additional activities for residents and visitors alike to enjoy,” Tyler Main Street director Beverly Abell said.
“We hope the film festival will only add to the wonderful schedule of events available during Rose Season.”
Visitors can take a little touch of Tyler back to their hometown with shopping opportunities offered Saturday at the Rose Festival Arts and Crafts Fair and fall plant sale.
The free event, featuring more than 60 vendors, is planned from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at Bergfeld Park, located at Fourth Street and Broadway Avenue.
Additional events are planned for next week, including the Historic Aviation Memorial Museum's 1940s-50s-era “Hangar Dance” the night of Oct. 22 at the Jet Center of Tyler, 209 Airport Drive.
“We still have tickets,” Carolyn Verver, board president, said. “We'll have dinner and dancing. For those who don't dance, they can listen to the Tyler Big Band and Shake Rattle and Roll. The hangar has its own atmosphere … it's really oriented to an era.”
For specific details about the dance and all rose season events, visit www.TylerRoseSeason.com or call 903-592-1661, ext. 229.