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Return of the Roses

T-R FILE PHOTO State Center’s annual Rose Festival returns this year after being cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Event chair Buffi Honeck said the event’s return has residents of State Center buzzing.

State Center’s Rose Festival returns this week in Marshall County.

Held annually since 1958, the 63rd Rose Festival celebrates the history of State Center and its central landmark the Rose Garden, which makes the town the “The Rose Capital of Iowa.”

While this year is the 63rd festival, the 62nd Rose Festival technically never happened, said the event’s chair Buffi Honeck.

“Because we still crowned the Rose Queen last year, it was like, ‘Well we can’t have the 62nd festival and the 63rd queen,” Honeck said.

She said State Center’s Rose Festival is unlike other small town festivals. Since moving to State Center 11 years ago, she saw the popularity of the event first-hand.

“Growing up, my small town festival wasn’t that big of a deal,” Honeck said. “But coming here, people plan on it, they come back for it, there’s an alumni and community presence around it, it’s a big deal to people of State Center.”

Honeck said since the announcement the festival would be returning this year, she’s been able to feel the excitement in the air. The theme of this year’s festival is “Return of the Roses,” commemorating the return of the event after last year’s cancellation.

The top two most popular events she said are the annual crowning of the Rose Queen and the grand parade through Main Street.

Some attractions from past festivals typically held indoors, such as the cakewalk, will not be at this year’s festival. While planning for the event, Honeck said they avoided indoor events due to uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic.

The festival kicks off 7 p.m., Thursday night with the Rose Queen Pageant at West Marshall High School Auditorium. The pageant is followed by the coronation of the Rose Queen at 7 p.m. Friday night at the Rose Garden.

The Kansas City Barbecue Society will host a competition available for sampling Friday night beginning at 5:30 p.m., just before the “Rockin’ the Rose Garden” concert begins at 8 p.m. featuring local band Grand Marshall who will play until midnight. At dusk the band will take a break from playing for the grand fireworks show.

Saturday begins with the grand parade. The parade attracts a large crowd to witness more than 100 floats featuring anything from local businesses and fire departments to marching bands and specialty cars.

Also on Saturday is the car show returning for the ninth year. Each year, the event sees growth in the amount of exhibitors showcasing their classic cars. More than six blocks on and around Main Street will be available for showcasing cars from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m..

On Saturday for kids, there’s the “Lil Kid’s Rosezone” at the Gutekunst Public Library from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. featuring face painting, animal exhibitors and more. For bigger kids, the “Extreme Fun Zone” at West Marshall Elementary School will feature thrill rides and bumper cars.

Capping off Saturday night is a family fun night at the Rose Garden from 5:30 p.m. until dark. The family fun night includes a lip synching contest, calling contests, a one-act play from the West Marshall High School drama department and will be concluded with a free movie in the garden at dusk.

For adults, Saturday night will be concluded with a street dance outside of Road Hog’s Bar from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m..

The festival’s last day on Sunday will bring the festival to a close with a church service in the Rose Garden at 10:30 a.m. with waterball fights at the fire department from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m..

For more information and a full schedule of events, visit www.statecenterrosefestival.org.

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Contact Trevor Babcock at 641-753-6611 or babcock@timesrepublican.com.

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