The scene was like one out of a fairy tale. The queen sat, scepter in hand, with a sparkling 12-inch-tall crown on her head and a dress and train that rivaled even the most beautiful of princesses.
“That's the princess,” 2-year-old Addison Sewell said as she waited in her mother's arms to take a picture with 2011 Texas Rose Festival Queen Morgan Elizabeth Rippy.
Addison was among many visitors, children and adults alike, who stopped by the Tyler Rose Garden Saturday for the Queen's Tea, which marked one of several weekend activities in the city's 78th Texas Rose Festival. The event provided an opportunity for people to meet and take photos of the queen, the Tyler court and the out-of-town duchesses in their coronation costumes.
White and sparkly lavender tulle made up the skirt and white flowers accented the top.
“Addison loves loves loves loves princesses, castles and flowers,” Ms. Sewell said. “She is like in amazement by everything over here.”
For the first time in many years, the tea was held in the wooded area of the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden underneath the trees. Mr. and Mrs. James Reed Rippy played host to the event in honor of Queen Morgan and her court.
Mrs. Rippy said the weather was beautiful and they were so pleased to have the event underneath the trees in the Camellia Garden.
The theme of the event was “A Midsummer Night's Dream,” taken from the festival theme, “The Grand Illusion,” and executed by Tea Designer Raymond Krueger of Jerry's Flowers.
Refreshments provided by Joseph's Catering were served adjacent to the Camellia Garden where the queen and her court sat under the trees.
Duchess of the Texas Rose Festival Virginia Winston Anderson and the six Butterfly attendants sat underneath giant butterfly awnings.
Queen Morgan sat beneath a rose-entwined wrought iron pavilion adorned with a crystal chandelier in the center of the ladies-in-waiting. Her “fairy” train bearers as well as the scepter bearer dressed as a gnome sat nearby.
This was the first year for Mrs. Fonville and her husband, Tom, of Flint, to come to the event.
Rita Pearlman, of Houston, came with her friend Ruth Bauer, of Kerrville. Ms. Pearlman said the decision to put the queen and ladies-in-waiting under the shade of trees was wonderful.
“I think (the queen's) done an excellent, outstanding, perfect job,” she said.
Ms. Bauer said the event had been fantastic.
“They're so gorgeous,” she said, adding that everyone had been extremely hospitable.
Dallas couple Delores and Ed Mickel and Athens couple Judy and Bob Garrett came out to their first Rose Festival.
“We're just absolutely thrilled with everything,” Mrs. Mickel said adding that she has wanted to come to the festival for years. “It's just gorgeous.”
Mickel said they were very impressed with the bands that played in the parade.
Next to the queen, six Butterfly Attendants sat in a row each on their own upholstered blue and white mushroom stools. The girls, dressed in their own colorful gowns and ballet slippers, posed for photos.
“Does she want to take a picture with me?” attendant Katherine Elizabeth Neal, 5, said to Tyler resident Melissa Jackson.
Ms. Jackson's daughter, Jacqueline, 2 1/2, had a Rose Festival booklet she was giving to each of the attendants to sign.
“She thinks they're all princesses, and she wants their autograph,” Ms. Jackson said.
Inside the Tyler Rose Garden Center and on the balcony, the out-of-town duchesses of the court stood greeting guests and letting visitors admire their dresses.
Mary Rose Crisp Kesser, Duchess of the Bayou City, represented “Scheherezade,” from “Arabian Nights.”
“I kind of feel a little bit like a Disney princess with all the little girls coming up to take a picture with me,” she said, adding that it's great for them to appreciate the Texas Rose Festival and all that it means.
Texas Rose Festival President Tom Ramey III said Saturday's events, all of which were free, were a gift to the city with the parade, the Rose Show and the tea.
Ramey said organizers had been worried as they prepared for the event because the rose bushes were not in bloom, but Saturday, the fragrant smell of rose blossoms filled the air near the colorful blooms.
About 39,000 rose bushes fill the Tyler Rose Garden making it the largest public rose garden in the world, Ramey said.
Earlier this year, the Texas Rose Festival Association made an agreement with the city of Tyler to donate all proceeds from the Texas Rose Festival to the city.
The purpose is to provide for the development of the Tyler Rose Garden so that it can become the finest facility of its kind in the world, Ramey said.
That will take time and there is no plan yet for exactly what that will look like, Ramey said, but it is necessary.
“Tyler needs a place that defines it …” he said adding that every great city has a destination for which it is known. “Tyler is a great city, but it needs a place.”
Queen Morgan said the festival activities were wonderful.
“It's been so exciting,” she said. “It's definitely been like nothing I've ever experienced before.”
Miss Anderson, Duchess of the Texas Rose Festival, said she enjoyed the event.
“It's been fun to just see everyone, the whole public come out and support the Rose Festival,” she said. “It went by so fast and I had so much fun.”
She said the event provided a great opportunity for the community to come out and see the queen and her court and the dresses.
“All the little kids admire (us), they want autographs,” she said. “They just look up to us so much, it's crazy.”
The Queen's family said they would like to thank Craig Reiland and the staff at the Tyler Rose Garden for their help with this event. They also want to thank Riley Harris Construction for their attention to the construction details.