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A run/walk and plant sale take place of traditional festival during pandemic

As with many events over the past year, the annual Camellia Festival in Newberg will take on a different form due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The traditional festival was cancelled earlier this year, but a run/walk event along with other activities will take its place.PMG FILE PHOTO - In addition to a 5K run/walk, this year's Camellia Festival will also include a bloom show staged by the Oregon Camellia Society.

On April 10, the city's flower will be honored with a 5K/10K run/walk, bloom show and plant sale, according to a release by the Chehalem Cultural Center.

"In non-COVID times, the Camellia Festival is an annual all-day festival in April celebrating the city of Newberg's official flower, the camellia, and it's Asian origins and we look forward to bringing back the full day of activities in 2022," the release said. "Due to the current state and local Covid-19 guidelines and for the safety of our guests, staff and volunteers, this year the 5k and 10k run/walk coordinated by the Chehalem Park and Recreation District (CPRD) will offer staggered start times for small groups of runners beginning at 9 a.m.

"A plant sale will be open to the public alongside the Oregon Camellia Society's annual bloom show and other virtual and self-guided activities such as chalk art, a self-guided Newberg history tour, selfie contests and more."

The run/walk portion of the event is always part of the tradition, but it will take center stage this year as safety remains a top priority. Runners have staggered start times to reduce crowd size and proceeds will benefit CPRD youth sports programs, "providing scholarships that allow children to participate in community programs," the release said.

The history of the Camellia flower in Newberg is a rich one, with a strong connection to Asian culture.

"In early April 1949, Newberg adopted the Camellia as its official flower. More than 400 plants were sold in that year and the city staged its first competitive Camellia show," the release said. "The show's sponsors, the Newberg Men's Garden Club, included Russell W. Gainer, a prominent local grocer whose grocery store now houses (aptly enough) the Showcase of Flowers on Villa Road. He went on to serve as president of the American Camellia Society and since 1949 the camellia has functioned as a symbol for the city of Newberg and is included on the city flag.

"The idea of staging a spring camellia festival with a judged flower show was expected to become an annual event, but it didn't actually take place again until 2009. Under the sponsorship of the Chehalem Park and Recreation District, the Newberg Camellia Festival has grown ever since, celebrating both camellias and the Asian culture."

For more information on this year's festivities, visit www.chehalemculturalcenter.org/camellia.


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