TYLER, Texas — Finally, after 2 years, the Texas Rose Festival is back.
It was put on hold at the height of the pandemic, but the same 2020 Texas Rose Queen and her royal court will be honored this year as we celebrate what brings us all together, the Tyler Rose.
"I remember as a little girl like that was just so like mind-blowing to me, like how in-depth the dresses were so pretty," explains Anna Grace Hallmark.
This week we can all see the world through rose-colored glasses again with this year's queen of the 88th annual Texas Rose Festival — Anna Grace Hallmark.
"I see these pictures on the walls and like, that always gets me like, I'll be on the wall one day. It's crazy to see how the dresses have just changed over time," Anna Grace said.
The Rose Festival brings back many special memories for a lot of East Texans including Anna Grace and her family.
Not only has she volunteered...
"I've been a dresser for the attendants for two years and then as a little girl we served at the tea," Anna Grace said.
The Rose Festival is a family tradition. You can see her mom's dress on display right now inside the Tyler Rose Museum, alongside her aunt, cousins and close friends.
So much history and Anna Grace feels honored to be a part of it.
Anna Grace explained what makes the honor so special, "To serve as an ambassador for the city and just promote Tyler and bring more people in to see what a great city we have and all we have to offer."
Originally she was set to serve as Rose Queen in 2020, alongside Princess Elizabeth Reid Walker, the Duchess of the Rose Growers Emily Ann Milton, the Ladies in Waiting, Duchesses and attendants to the queen.
One of those attendants — "Yes, my little brother. He's my scepter bearer, so that's been really fun for us to get to share together in a special opportunity."
"I think honestly, everybody is so excited," said Liz Ballard, Executive Director of the Texas Rose Festival.
Liz Ballard is the Executive Director of the Texas Rose Festival. She says they're as committed as ever to their mission of promoting tourism, volunteerism and instilling community pride.
"To have the opportunity to get back out have fellowship, just the camaraderie the celebration of our city have tourists start coming back," explained Ballard. Just being out and about is just going to feel so wonderful. The enthusiasm — you can feel it!
Everything's in bloom once again after a thorny year in 2020. The only other time the Rose Festival was suspended was during World War II.
"The only time since 1933, prior to this that we did not have a festival, was from 1941 through '46 and then we resumed in '47," said Ballard.
There are so many "Secrets of the Garden" to explore with the return of Rose Festival Week from the coronation to the parade and the Queen's Tea.
"We know that people are coming in from all around the country. In fact, we had one lady saying it's just a bucket list thing. She's coming in from Atlanta, Georgia," Ballard said. Along with thousands of others, who once again, are taking time to smell the Tyler roses.
"I hope it just brings everyone together and that we get to celebrate the festival together because we've had a rough two years and I think it'll be good for our community," said Anna Grace.
The Rose Festival.... It's Totally East Texas!