Rose Festival sets out to reclaim Broken Arrow’s beautiful history
TNE Editor

Rose Festival sets out to reclaim Broken Arrow’s beautiful history

Published 4/27/17

Kelsey Baucom

TNE Writer

A few years ago the Main Street area in downtown Broken Arrow adopted the title of the Rose District as an ode to the city’s rich heritage. Today, leaders in the community are embarking on huge projects to revitalize downtown and make it more of an arts and entertainment district for both residents and tourists to enjoy. The annual Rose Festival brings the community together to celebrate this history and continue to make Broken Arrow beautiful.

The Rose Festival is organized by the Rose Committee branch of the nonprofit organization Keep Broken Arrow Beautiful. The committee’s main goal is to emphasize Broken Arrow’s history as the “City of Roses” and to revive it for this generation.

“We used to be the City of Roses,” said Beverly Forester, committee chairperson. “Back in the 1920s there was a sign on the corner of Main and 71st Street that claimed Broken Arrow as ‘The City of Roses and Sparkling Spring Water,’ and we’ve been fighting to bring back this history for six years now.”

To carry on traditions that took place almost 100 years ago, residents are encouraged to bring their own roses and rose bouquets to show off the beauty of the community and, if they wish, to participate in the rose show.

“We invite everybody in the community to bring roses,” said Forester. “It doesn’t have to be fancy. They don’t need to know the names or the type of rose. We even have vases that they can put them in during the competition. There’s cash prizes and ribbons for that.”

In addition to the rose show, there will be live music, food trucks, local artists showcasing their work, children’s activities, the farmers’ market and a contest for people who submit an art piece inspired by roses.

“The application for the art contest is online or on our Facebook,” said Forester. “The deadline to enter is Saturday at 5 p.m. It would be wonderful to have more entries. It needs to be rose-themed, of course.”

All the details about the art contest are online at Forester and Shane Hickey, fellow Rose Committee chairperson, thought that college students might be especially interested in this art contest, as well as opportunities to volunteer or get involved in any of the organization’s projects – the Rose Festival is just one of the many.

“You can adopt a mile to clean, if there are any college students who want to get involved,” said Hickey. “You only have to do that three or four times a year. And of course, Monday, after the festival, we’ll start working on the float for the parade. If anybody is interested in helping out they can give me a call. We’ll be decorating Monday through Friday.”

Georgeana Rainwater, another co-organizer of the event, said they will have a little gift for festival-goers, and that the festivities will continue, rain or shine.

“We’ll have rose bracelets for the first 200 people to come to the festival,” said Rainwater. “It’s going to be beautiful. We’re hoping for good weather, but even if it rains, we’ll carry on.”

All of the proceeds from the Rose Festival will go toward funding a new project in Broken Arrow: a commemorative rose garden for Central Park.

“It’s going to be huge,” said Hickey. “It’s going to have a facility where you can have weddings, family gatherings, that kind of stuff and, of course, plenty of beautiful roses.”

Forester agreed that the project is a very exciting one and encouraged people to see the vision for themselves online in a virtual reality video.

“It’s a great opportunity for everybody in the city to get involved,” said Hickey. “It would be wonderful to have a rose garden in every home.”

As the Rose Festival celebrates its fourth year, it welcomes community members to come out, bring their roses and celebrate Broken Arrow’s rich heritage together.

“This isn’t something we just pulled out of the blue,” said Forester. “This is Broken Arrow’s history.”

The Rose Festival is from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, May 6 in the farmers’ market pavilion on Main Street. Admission is free to all.

To volunteer help decorating the float for the parade, call Hickey at 918-520-7455.

To volunteer help at the welcome table, call Rainwater at 918-636-5809 or 918-455-2987.

To learn more and to view a list of volunteer opportunities, visit

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