TYLER (KYTX) -- The 78th Texas Rose Festival, "The Grand Illusion," got under way Thursday morning when Rose Queen Morgan Elizabeth Rippy and TRF President Tom Ramey cut the ceremonial ribbon at the Tyler Rose Garden.
Surrounded by that flower, the Tyler Rose Queen and her court snipped the ribbon the festival. It starts a whirlwind weekend for Queen Morgan Elizabeth Rippy and Duchess of the Texas Rose Festival, Winn Anderson.
"I'm really excited about everything," Rippy said. "I can't believe it's all coming together. It's a really exciting time."
"It's fun," Anderson said. "It's going to be a great weekend. I'm really excited and I think everyone else is too."
It also means a packed schedule. After the ribbon cutting, the queen and duchess were whisked away to the Rose Pallet Art show, where they picked their favorite painting.
"It's such an honor to be able to do this," Rippy said.
For the queen and her court the festival is a fast paced event, but for visitors like Mary and Albert William from San Antonio, it's a time to stop and smell the roses.
"They're just incredibly beautiful," Mary William said. "The smell is so good and it's so interesting to see all the varieties."
It's trite but true. They say it's why they are here.
"We always travel through and never stop, but this time we made a special point to come here spend the night and spend the day looking at all the roses," Mr. William said.
For 78 years the visitors have enjoyed the rose festival. This year 100,000 people are expected to come to Tyler to celebrate the heritage and the flower that makes Tyler truly unique.
This year's lineup is different from last year, with the Queen's Tea to be held on Saturday. Other Rose Festival activities include:
ROSE SHOW: Rose Show hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Rose Garden Center. The Rose Show has partnered with David Austin Roses Inc. and will feature an English Medieval castle as a large backdrop to showcase the floral display. There is no admission charge.
GARDEN CLUBS: In the foyer of the Rose Garden Center, the Tyler Area Council of Garden Clubs will display "Tablescapes," designed by members from area clubs, following the festival's theme of "The Grand Illusion."
PALETTE OF ROSES ART SHOW: The show will be open to the public during exhibition hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Mayfair Building, East Texas State Fairgrounds. There is no admission charge.
LADIES' BRUNCH: The 2011 Ladies' Luncheon will feature Jenna Bush Hager as the guest speaker. Luncheon is set at 11:30 a.m. Friday at Crosswalk Conference Center at Green Acres Baptist Church. Tickets are $50.
MEN'S LUNCHEON: The luncheon is scheduled at 11:30 a.m. at the Rose Garden Center. Speaker is Kenneth Winston "Ken" Starr, president of Baylor University. Tickets are $50.
CORONATION MATINEE: The matinee performance of Queen Morgan Rippy's coronation is scheduled at 3 p.m. at the Cowan Center. Tickets are required.
CORONATION: The coronation of the rose queen is scheduled at 7:30 p.m. at the Cowan Center. Tickets are required; call the Cowan Center Box Office, 903-566-7424.
QUEEN'S TEA: "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is scheduled from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Tyler Rose Garden, 420 Rose Park Drive. The tea, which is free and open to the public, provides the opportunity for festival visitors to meet Queen Morgan and members of the royal court in their costumes in a festive outdoor setting.
For more ticket information, call the Cowan Center box office at 903-566-7424 or visit www.texasrosefestival.com. The R. Don Cowan Center for Fine & Performing Arts is located on The University of Texas at Tyler campus, 3900 University Blvd., Tyler.