Eureka At Its Bloomin' Best
Catherine Fanucchi, Eureka, California
Eureka's cool, foggy climate brings out the blooming best in rhododendrons. And rhododendrons bring out the blooming best in Eureka with a two week celebration of the rhododendron which begins the last weekend in April.
The tribute to this magnificent plant started 21 years ago when a Eureka businessman, George Holt, learned of another community that celebrated Dogwood Days. He thought Eureka would be the perfect place to have a Rhododendron Festival, and with the Eureka Chamber of Commerce's blessing, the first festival was begun.
One of the highlights of the festival is the Rhododendron Parade which traditionally is the last Saturday in April. Rain or shine, people from all around the area turn out to see marching bands, floats decorated with rhododendrons, antique automobiles, wacky kinetic sculptures and everything else that makes a community parade complete. Last year there were 120 separate entries and we expect excellent participation again for the upcoming parade.
Eureka Rhododendron Festival Parade
Photo supplied by Catherine Fanucchi
In addition to the parade, there are events of interest to everyone. For the athlete, there is the Annual Rhododendron Run in which runners compete in a Two Miler or a 10K run.
For those of you who would rather walk than run, there are self-guided tours in Eureka and the surrounding towns, and state and national parks on Highway 101 near Eureka. The self-guided tours give you a chance to really enjoy both hybrid and wild rhododendrons in bloom.
Golfers can take a swing at the hole-in-one contest at the Eureka Municipal Golf Course. And square dancers can swing their partners to the direction of a nationally-known caller at the Rhododendron Festival Square Dance.
The list of things to do goes on - an Antique Show, a Doll Show, a Miniature Show, cruises on Humboldt Bay. It's a full two weekends of celebration you won't want to miss.
Perhaps the most important event to chapter members is the ARS Eureka Chapter's Annual Rhododendron Show. Our chapter is small but enthusiastic and we put on quite a large display of rhododendron trusses and plants. Since our climate is so mild, rarely dropping below freezing, we can grow many rhododendrons in our gardens, including Maddeniis and large-leafed species.
This year our show will be at the Eureka Mall on May 6 and 7, the weekend following the National Convention in Victoria. So on your way home from the convention, plan to stop in to see some of the sights and the prolific displays of rhododendrons. Eureka is a charming place to visit with many well-preserved Victorian homes that proudly display rhododendron plants, some as tall as the homes themselves.
Join us in celebrating the 22nd Annual Rhododendron Festival - our time and yours to enjoy the beauty of a magnificent plant, the North coast's bloomin' best. For more information on Eureka or a Rhododendron Festival "Calendar of Events", contact the Eureka California Chamber of Commerce.