1003864436 SOHS_31388_Roseburg.jpg
Photo courtesy of the Southern Oregon Historical Society, image No. 31388The Roseburg Auto Camp circa 1920, a real photo postcard by Chester Stevenson. Auto courts were the hotels of choice for travelers of the day.

As It Was: Roseburg Strawberry Festival inspired Portland Rose Festival

The Roseburg City Commercial Club staged its first Strawberry Festival in May of 1909 to showcase Roseburg’s business interests. The three-day event had food booths and a thatch-roofed stage on unpaved Jackson Street. Capitola Willis was the first Strawberry queen.

The festival parades featured elaborate floats covered in flowers and banners. Handsome buggies drawn by matched teams competed in the morning parade. Newfangled automobiles decorated as battleships and carrying stages for dancers competed for prizes in the afternoon.

School closed on Friday to let some 800 students march in the children’s parade dressed in their finest clothes. Some rode tricycles and pony carts, while others pulled decorated wagons or marched with their school classes. The festival chose a junior queen and court for the first time in 1911.

An estimated 10,000 people attended the last festival in 1919, presided over by Queen Maxine McLaughlin. The same year a delegation from Portland came to observe and consult with Roseburg authorities to begin its own festival — eventually to be called the Rose Festival.

Source: Goeres-Gardner, Diane L. and the Douglas County Museum. Images of America: Roseburg, Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2010. Print.

— As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.

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