For many people from in Gloucester, the Daffodil Festival is more than an event — it’s a tradition.
“The hometown flavor makes (the Daffodil Festival) very special,” said Ann Andrews, chairwoman of the scholarship committee. “A lot of folks will put it on their calendar and make sure they are going to come back to Gloucester so they can see friends and relatives that they haven’t seen for a year or so.”
This weekend, Gloucester will mark the end of winter with its 33rd annual Daffodil Festival.
“(The festival is) just a way of celebrating spring in our area,” said Mary Boerner, who’s been on the festival’s committee for 27 years.
“I think it’s probably the second biggest thing we have in Gloucester.”
Over the decades, Boerner said the festival has grown from one day to two days long and attracts visitors from around the area. Borner said she expects up to 25,000 people to attend this year.
One of the festival’s main events is the Daffodil Show held at Botetourt Elementary School. Andrews said the festival will hold regionals this year and will hold the nationals next year.
“It has really evolved into a show a lot of daffodils growers and arrangers ... really look forward to,” Andrews said.
The contest’s three categories are horticulture blooms, artistic arrangements and photography.
“(For horticulture) there are all types of classes of daffodils and they have all kinds of rules … the form and the condition, the texture, the color, the stem — they’re all judged on different things and they all have a number of points,” Boerner said.
“It’s just a wonderful display of the species of daffodils.”
With artistic arrangement and photography, contestants are judged more on their creativity and use of that year’s theme rather than simply the condition of the bloom.
However, there's much more to do than look at flowers at the festival.
“There’s something there for everyone, whether it’s the arts and crafts, the entertainment, the parade, (pony) rides and face painting for the kids to enjoy,” Boerner said.
A popular addition to the festival, according to Andrews, is the gaming bus, where teenagers can take turns playing video games.
Despite all the events, Boerner said her favorite thing about the festival is creating something others can enjoy.
”It’s rewarding to see all the folks be able to come and enjoy themselves, and I guess people have been cooped up all winter and it’s kind of like the first burst of spring,” Boerner said.
“It’s nice to see (people from) other areas come and enjoy our community and just kick off the spring.”
Want to go?
The festival runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. April 6 and noon to 5 p.m. April 7 on Main Street in Gloucester. Free; shuttle parking $2. For more information, visit daffodilfestivalva.org.
Heymann can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828 or on Twitter at @HeymannAmelia.