Daffodils first arrived in Gloucester County in 1651 when the county formed from part of York County. Settlers brought bulbs with them as a reminder of springtime in England. They soon discovered the soil and weather in Gloucester were ideal for growing daffodils and by the beginning of the 20th century, daffodils grew untamed throughout the area. An industry grew from this and in the 1930s and 40s, Gloucester was the Daffodil Capital of America.
Although the flower itself is not quite as widespread as it once was, Gloucester has celebrated the blooms every spring since 1987 with the Annual Daffodil Festival. This year the festival is Saturday and Sunday, March 24-25. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Highlights of the festival include:
- The daffodil parade at 10 a.m. Saturday along Main Street.
- Arts and Craft Fair both days along Main Street.
- Entertainment on the main stage in the Food Court in the parking lot behind County Building #2 and the stage on Main Street.
- A food court with favorite festival foods including seafood and barbecue.
- The crowning of the annual Miss Daffodil at 11:30 a.m. Saturday on the main stage.
- New this year will be the crowning of Little Miss Daffodil for girls ages 6 through 8 on Sunday.
- The Amazing Mutt Show by the Gloucester/Matthews Humane Society at 1 p.m., Saturday on the entertainment stage on Main Street.
The festival also has tours of Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, children’s activities and a free photo booth for commemorative photos.
Another big draw is the daffodil show, sanctioned by the American Daffodil Society at the Botetourt Elementary School on Main Street. Flower judging will take place Saturday morning and then the show will open to the public from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.
“Twenty thousand people come through here in a day and a half,” said Debbie Wesolowski, coordinator of the festival for the past four years. “That’s a lot of coordination behind the scenes.”
The festival committee uses money raised through the event for the beautification of the county and for scholarships for Gloucester High School graduates.