Family Tradition: The Texas Rose Festival Royalty Includes Generations of Dedicated Volunteers Local News

Not only does the Texas Rose Festival span 88 years honoring Tyler’s rose industry, it has also become a generational family tradition, especially for the 2020 and 2021 Princess Elizabeth Reid Walker Rose Festival.

Elizabeth Reid Walker, also known as “Ellie,” has ties to the Texas Rose Festival from both her mother and father’s side.

Her grandmothers, Martha Walker and Diane Wall, spent years volunteering for the festival, and her maternal grandfather, Andy Wall, was the president of the Texas Rose Festival in 1989.

In addition to serving as an attendant at a former festival court, Ellie Walker’s parents and other family members also attended festivals.

“I think (my family members) were excited. They’ve done so many things and had different jobs. They are delighted that I can experience it, ”she said. “I helped for a while; I was a dresser when I was little. So it’s kind of like relapsing into it now that I’m older, it’s like a bigger deal.

A 2019 All Saints Episcopal School graduate, majoring in studio art at the University of Texas at Austin and part of a philanthropy-focused sorority. She enjoys giving back to the community, for example by volunteering at the East Texas Food Bank.

“With the Rose Festival, I did a lot during COVID at the food bank. I helped pack things up and it was really fun, ”she said. “The pageantry is fun. It’s fun to celebrate it, but it’s also an element of giving back that makes it all happen.

On Friday night, the Walker and Wall families and several others celebrated their princess as well as the Texas Rose Festival, Queen Anna Grace Hallmark, Duchess of Rose Growers Emily Ann Milton and festival volunteers at the kickoff. of the festival at the Willow Brook Country Club. to Tyler.

The event honored volunteers and sponsors as it kicked off the festival countdown scheduled for October 14-17. The festival in 2020 has been postponed due to COVID-19 so members of the tribunal can continue their reign.

Ellie Walker’s paternal grandmother, Martha Walker, has been a part of the Rose Festival for at least 40 years, serving as Coronation Chair and other leadership positions.

“She’s been our princess in our family her whole life, but I think she’s a wonderful representative for Tyler. I’m so happy for her and proud of her too, ”said Martha Walker. “We have always been active in the Rose Festival. We love the Rose Festival.

Martha Walker said the Rose Festival gave Tyler a national presence.

“People associate us with roses and beauty, and I love that,” she said. “I think from a business point of view, I think it’s extremely important. We have a lot of people who come from all over and see our city at its best and have a great time and remember fond memories of Tyler.

An opportunity to become a member of the Rose Festival tribunal is a chance to meet many friends and make memories, said Martha Walker.

“You can live a happy, normal life without ever doing this. But if you do, you’ll end up better appreciating your community and the people it takes to set up something like this, ”Walker said. “It gives you a special presence and a polish that will probably come later in life, but it happens early and so you have this gift that is yours forever.”

Ellie Walker’s maternal grandmother Diane Wall said seeing her granddaughter be the princess was magical. She and her husband have worked with the Texas Rose Festival since 1965.

“We moved here and we took to the road running. My husband Andy was president in ’89, and it’s just a joy for her, ”said Diane Wall. “It’s a dream come true. I love that it is a citywide love for Tyler and all the volunteers come together and really support him.

She recalled writing scripts for tribunal members and holding various leadership positions. Her daughter and Ellie’s mother, Andrea Walker, were a maid of honor.

“I am so grateful that our kids are participating in the Rose Festival because Andy and I did. We just got involved in everything in every way, ”said Diane Wall. “(Ellie’s) is a fun, well-groomed girl and we’re so proud of her like all grandmothers.”

Andy Wall said he was grateful to be back after serving as festival president 32 years ago.

“It’s really great that our granddaughter is in there and that the Walkers were close friends Dr Walker and Martha anyway,” he said. “It was such a blessing for their son to marry our daughter. “

From his presidential term, Andy Wall recalled that he and other leaders decided to move the Queen from the front of the parade to the back.

“It went a lot better,” he said. “We had a great day for the parade, and it’s something we want to go because the community is really participating in it.”

Bruce Faulkner, president of the 88th Texas Rose Festival, said on Friday that the goal of the kickoff in July was to honor the attendees and volunteers who work tirelessly behind the scenes.

“We are here to promote the local rose industry, celebrate community, volunteerism, instill community pride and attract visitors and traders to our amazing community,” said Faulkner. “I’m proud to say this marks the 88th anniversary of the Texas Rose Festival.”

Hallmark called being Queen for two years “a true blessing and honor” and she enjoyed promoting the rich history of the Texas Rose Festival.

“While many aspects of the festival, such as themes and costumes have evolved over the past decade, one thing has remained the same – the keen sense of service and support of its many volunteers and sponsors in the County of Tyler and Smith, ”Hallmark said. . “It is especially evident how strong our community is as we navigate the COVID pandemic. I’m proud that we can come together and celebrate together again.

Melton said she was honored to represent her family’s legacy in the rose industry as the Duchess of Rose Growers for 2020 and 2021.

“The Rose Festival and the Town of Tyler have focused on the same tradition for many years: celebrating the beauty of the rose, promoting the local rose industry and its history, and attracting tourism to the Town of Tyler” , said Milton.

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