It's that time of year when Rose Fest is upon us. My question was, Why is it called Rose Fest, and how did it start? I met with some Gentlemen at the Senior Activity Center and asked them what they knew about the Festival, and received a lot of information.
Apparently in 1924, Kenyon's first paved street brought the town out of the "Mud Age" as it was referred to at the time. Mayor C.J. Talle thought it would be a good idea to have some green space between the streets on the west side of town, so the last 4 blocks had a boulevard installed between the streets by the Gunderson House. In 1962, a 65 year old rose enthusiast named LLoyd Jystad thought it was time to beautify the green space with 10 rose "trees", so he went to the city council, then headed up by Dr. W.A. Bohan, the town veterinarian, and got their approval if he would pay for and maintain the trees. So, Lloyd purchased the rose trees for about $10 apiece, and planted, watered, pruned and fertilized them.
Harold Syverson, a free lance writer asked the question, "If 10 trees look so nice, why not plant 100?" He was asked where he would get the money to purchase so many roses, and he replied, "I will raise the money myself." Upon hearing that, the council approved the idea, but the village clerk, Alfred Huseth, reminded the council that the Highway Dept. had jurisdiction over the boulevard. This meant another meeting to get approval. Syverson then met with the district's engineer, Charles Burrill, who approved the project "as long as people driving by aren't causing accidents because they are getting out of their cars to go look at the rose trees. If there are no problems after planting 100 rose trees, then you can plant as many as you want the next year." And so the Boulevard of Roses has become nationally known! It was officially dedicated in June of 1968, with a Queen of Roses, and much publicity surrounding it.
So now Kenyon celebrates their town on the 3rd weekend of August every year with a 3 day Festival. The funding for the festival comes from many sources. Can recycling is taken in all year to help with the costs. The snowmobile club donates funds from their gambling venue to the tune of $3,000.00. Many citizens donate, as well as local businessses. There is a Kenyon Rose Fest committee that oversees the entertainment and activities each year. A lot of work goes into every aspect. Frank Peterson, a Kenyon native, is a big part of getting many Shriner's Club members here to do their tricks on bikes. Bobby Peterson and Lee Sjolander are in charge of the annual car show. Anyone can have their car on display, and instead of judging the cars, $100 bills are given out every hour to the contestants, who must be present to get the money.
There will be 2 dances at the VFW, one on Friday night, and one on Saturday night. Lost Highway will perform Friday, and The Dads on Saturday. There will be food trucks and vendors, and a city wide garage sale Friday and Saturday, too. The emcee this year is Kirby Vandewalker. There will be a Grand Marshall, and a Citizen of the Year honored as well. The parade is at 1 pm on Sunday.
As you can tell, a lot goes into these town festivals, so come on out and show your support, and have a lot of fun August 18, 19, and 20th!