Thomasville Rose Show and Festival Celebrates

95 years April 21-23
by Sarah Turner
May 17, 2016

A Southwest Georgia tradition since the 1920s, the Thomasville Rose Show and Festival celebrates 95 years, April 21-23, and encompasses the Rose Show, which presents contemporary and heirloom roses against a backdrop budding with thousands of the blooms; the Rose Parade, known for its rose carpet and flowery floats; the Street Dance, this year featuring the Swingin' Medallions; "Orchids on Parade"; Children's Rose Bud Parade; plus live music, arts and crafts, car show, Southern-style festival foods, children's fun and games and more. Get ready to join the excitement blooming in the city known for the sweet smell of roses, Georgia's "Rose City," Thomasville, nestled in the Red Hills Region, and located 45 miles west of Valdosta and 35 miles northeast of Tallahassee, Florida.

With roses blooming April through July, no wonder Thomasville is known as the "City of Roses." There are 1,500-plus rose bushes in Thomasville's Rose Garden in Cherokee Lake Park alone and bouquets trim the Victorian cottages and storefronts of the downtown historic district. Taking center stage during the free Festival on Friday are the competitively-grown petals of the Rose Show. Past award-winning varietals include Hot Princess, Red Queen, Show Girl and Elizabeth Taylor. The Heirloom rose category honors the elders, showing varieties that have been in existence since 1867.

For the 68th Annual Rose Parade, taking place at 7 p.m. on April 22, floats studded with no less than two dozen live roses take to the streets. This year's theme "95 Years of Roses!" brings out the creativity in everyone. Following the parade, everyone takes to the streets for unabashed boogying during the Annual Street Dance featuring live music. Before the parade and dance party, stop by the Flower's Building where The Annual Orchids on Parade showcases the delicate perennials grown by the Thomasville Orchid Society. On Saturday, Art in the Park bursts to life with lots of arts and crafts and children's activities - food, too. Great food will be dished up throughout the Festival, along with plenty of live music.

Visit for event schedule and details.

What's new?

Head Downtown to view The Police Inspection, an impressive display of the Department taking place at 2:30pm, April 22, on Broad Street, including a community meet-and-greet with the officers. Art in the Park, held on Saturday in Paradise Park, will feature a full-sized Ferris wheel (free admission) and a variety of food trucks featuring festival favorites from wings to tacos to funnel cakes. Family-friendly activities like face painting, giant bubble stations and stilt walkers provide free entertainment while a fine arts and crafts show further delights the senses.

Flowers galore

In addition to the Rose Show, catch blooms at the Festival's orchid show, Orchids on Parade, the Garden Club's Standard Flower Show and the Civic Garden Club Flower Show.

Pumped up parade

This year Thomasville hosts the Army Maneuver Center of Excellence Band, adding Macy's Thanksgiving-style character balloons to the line-up, beefing up the floats and adding more entertainers throughout the parade.

Get involved

The City of Thomasville is hosting an art contest with local artists to declare a "commemorative piece" for the 95th Festival. Artists are asked to reflect on the positive and pivotal 1920s, capture the enchantment of the era as it relates to Thomasville and harness the excitement that the Rose Show & Festival has brought to the South for nearly a century. Applications and artwork are due by March 22, 2016. All entries will be displayed at the Visitors Center from April 2 - May 2.

Rolling out the rose carpet

Other activities: The 38th Annual Children's Rose Bud Parade; Rose City Golf Classic; 75th Annual Civic Garden Club Flower Show; Bark in the Park; 39th Annual Rose City 10K Run and 37th Annual 1 Mile Fun Run; and 14th Annual City of Roses Car & Truck Show.

The Thomasville Rose Show and Festival was voted a Top 20 Event in the Southeast by the Southeast Tourism Society and is one of the American Bus Association's Top 100 Events in North America.

If you go

From traditional chain hotels to Sugar Mill RV Park nestled on 52-acres of sprawling plantation to charming Southern bed and breakfasts, Thomasville offers a variety of accommodations for resting comfortably between explorations. TIP: Before you leave, head to Thomasville's oldest and most natural landmark, The Big Oak, which grew from a tiny acorn beginning around 1685 and is one of the original members (#49) of the Live Oak Society, enrolled in 1936. Now over 325 years old, the Big Oak has a limb span of over 165 feet and a trunk circumference of over 26 feet! Say, "cheese" for a one-of-a-kind souvenir. Stand in front of the tree behind the white sign and dial 229-236-0053 on your cell phone. Look at the camera on the telephone pole across the street and follow the instructions you hear on your cell phone and strike a pose. Find your picture online at

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