Memorial Day weekend
In 1939, the state of Oregon opted to dedicate a new state park at the outskirts of the then-tiny community of Brookings. The site was chosen because of its prodigious and beautiful native western azaleas (Rhododendron occidentale).
Brookings Azalea Festival – Top USA Festivals Photo Gallery
WL Crissey and Elmer Bankus, well-known local citizens and members of the Brookings Chamber of Commerce, felt the dedication ceremony for Azalea State Park should be a showy extravagant The Azalea Parade is one of many events included in the Brookings Azalea Festival. affair, and conceived the Azalea Festival. The inaugural event, with state parks superintendent Samuel H. Boardman in attendance and the azaleas in full bloom, was a regal success, with a variety of events, including a parade, Azalea Queen coronation, and a nightcap banquet featuring barbequed hog. That evening amid the fanfare, according to state parks historian WA Langille, the locals decided the event should continue annually. World War II, however, intervened, and after the even larger festivals of 1940 and 1941, the event was suspended as the nation had more pressing matters weighing on its collective conscious. After the war, the festival began anew and continued to expand in scope and attendance.
Today, this sprawling, multiday festival draws some 15,000 attendees annually and features a wide variety of activities and events held throughout Brookings-Harbor. Hundreds of participants make the Azalea Parade on Saturday a key part of the celebration, with spectators lining the route, and an expansive street fair features many dozens of vendors. The event continues the tradition of crowning an Azalea Queen from a court of princesses, and the park itself is headquarters for several key events, including the presentation of the queen as well as the festival grand marshall and the Pioneer Citizens. Associated events during the five-day-long community-wide celebration include a classic car show, quilt show, carnival, my blog sale, veterans events, and the prodigious Azalea Festival Art Show, which draws some 150 exhibitors.
At the two-day art show (free admission), local and regional artists, from novices to professionals, display and sell their works, and skilled artists conduct workshops throughout the show. Out-of-town judges select winning entries in the art competition, and special awards are chosen by the Azalea Festival Queen, Grand Marshall of the Parade, and the Pioneer Citizens. All show visitors may vote for the People’s Choice award. Meanwhile, down in the adjoined town of Harbor, local Chetco Brewing Company sponsors Rock the Chetco, a lively, festive, weekend-long party featuring craft beers, great food, games, brewing competition, artisan market, and outstanding live music.
More than two dozen different events, activities, and associated celebrations make up the Brookings Azalea Festival, with the schedule posted on the fest website well in advance. Because Azalea Fest is held over Memorial Day weekend and attracts lots of visitors, be sure to reserve lodging well in advance.