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Portland Rose Festival designated an Oregon Heritage Tradition

March 1, 2019

The Portland Rose Festival, a long-standing Portland event, marks its upcoming 112th year with an Oregon Heritage Tradition designation by the Oregon Heritage Commission.


Other Oregon Heritage Traditions include the Oregon State Fair, Medford’s Pear Blossom Festival, the Pendleton Round-Up, and the Woodburn Fiesta Mexicana.


“The designation recognizes those traditions that have helped define the character of the state,” said Todd Kepple, the commission’s chair. “The Portland Rose Festival helps us celebrate Oregon’s urban heritage.”


The Portland Rose Festival can trace its roots back to a speech given by Portland Mayor Harry Lane at the 1905 Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition, which included a call for a festival of roses. Two years later, in 1907, the first Portland Rose Festival was held with the intention of putting Portland on the map and branding it as the ‘summer capital of the world.’ It included the novelty of an electric parade with illuminated floats that allowed Portland to showcase its innovation as one of the first cities in the world to have an electrically propelled trolley system. A year later, in 1908, a nonprofit formed to lead the festival planning and turn it into an annual event.


Over the years the Festival’s events have changed and expanded with the times, but the parades associated with the Portland Rose Festival have remained at the center of the event. "The Festival's venerable centerpiece, the Grand floral Parade, is more than fancy floats and high-stepping bands; it's lineup is layered with theatrical and cultural story-telling that reflects how a community can honor diversity and celebrate unity at the same time," said Teri Bowles-Atherton, Rose Festival Foundation President. "The Rose Festival offers a familiar place for multi-generations to make memories while celebrating side-by-side."


The Portland Rose Festival wouldn’t be possible without countless volunteer hours from the over 3,600 volunteers who organize and run events, including board members who give thousands of hours of their time in leadership and planning.The event adds to the heritage tourism impact in Oregon and is estimated to generate $65 million in economic impact for the Portland-Metro region.


The Portland Rose Festival will be held May 24- June 9, with additional activities extending in to July and August. More information can be found at: http://www.rosefestival.org/


An Oregon Heritage Tradition must have been in continuous operation for more than 50 years, demonstrate a public profile and reputation that distinguishes it from more routine events, and add to the livability and identity of the state. A list of Tradition designations is available at http://www.oregon.gov/oprd/HCD/OHC/pages/oht.aspx.

The Oregon Heritage Commission coordinates efforts to solve statewide heritage issues through grants, education, and advocacy, and also promotes heritage tourism efforts.