Celebrate Spring's Arrival..... “Daffy Style”!
From early April to mid-May, over three million daffodils of every color, shape and size bloom throughout the island. The bountiful blossoms--in shades of yellow, orange white and pale pink--grace roadsides, gardens, window boxes and shop windows. The Chamber-sponsored Daffodil Festival (April 25-27, 2014), in its 40th year, is a full-scale jubilee of winter’s thaw featuring an Antique Car Parade, Tailgate Picnic, and NEW Children's Beach Family Picnic, as well as a Daffy Hat, Dog and Children's Parade. It's a joyous occasion for both islanders and visitors alike. Come wear your daffy hat, watch the car parade, have a picnic and welcome spring!
The Antique Car Parade is the Festival’s signature event, showcasing over 100 daffodil-bedecked vintage cars (pre-registration required for participation). After winding through town, the cars make their way across the island to the charming village of 'Sconset where partipants join residents and visitors for the Tailgate Picnic. What better way to herald the arrival of spring than an al fresco lunch on the lush lawns of this picturesque village. Picnic fare ranges from elaborate gourmet cuisine served on fine china to box lunches and burgers.
If you have children, or are not inclined to leave the downtown area, the Children's Beach Family Picnic- new last year- is a wonderful alternative. Bring a blanket and picnic lunch to Children's Beach. We will have a free concert, featuring music from the ShepCats and one-man band The Whirlygigs. Free rides will be available on the Nantucket Hotel's antique fire truck. Enjoy children's activities like balloon animals, storytelling, and more. Some of our island non-profit businesses will also set up tables with information and activities.
Other festival highlights include the Nantucket Garden Club’s Annual Daffodil Show, and a Daffodil 5K Race. Or pick up your Scavenger Hunt Brochures, get a team together, and take part in the family-friendly scavenger hunt, three lucky teams will be eligible to win 40th Annual Daffodil Merchandise.
The Official Daffodil Program will be available at the Chamber Office, Zero Main Street by April 22. Stop in and see our limited edition Daffy merchandise. We've got new tote bags, hats, and pins to commemorate the occasion. You can also go to our Calendar of Events to see what members plan to offer.
History of the Daffodil Festival
Daffodil Festival weekend dates back to 1974 when the late Jean MacAusland (former summer resident and publisher of Gourmet Magazine) persuaded the Nantucket Garden Club to invite the American Daffodil Society to sponsor a daffodil show on island. The first official Daffodil Show, in conjunction with the American Daffodil Society, was held in 1975. A special sale of daffodil paintings by Sybil Goldsmith and fellow artists helped to defray both the costs of the show and the planting of bulbs in public places. Mrs. MacAusland herself donated thousands of bulbs, and the Nantucket public was asked to assist with the planting. Their goal was to plant over one million daffodil bulbs. Unfortunately, many of these bulbs planted alongside Milestone Road didn’t survive, as they were planted too close to the road and were unable to withstand the town’s annual roadside mowing. In successive plantings, the Garden Club set the bulbs out in random bunches farther from the road, a“drift planting” which protected the bulbs and gave their blooms a more natural setting. Planting methods have developed over the years, but the annual November planting has become an entrenched community event.
In 1978, Mrs. MacAusland, along with late islander H. Flint Ranney, planned a classic car parade and tailgate picnic in ‘Sconset which, with the Daffodil Show, would create a weekend-long event. Thus, the first “Annual Nantucket Garden Club Vintage Motor Car Outing” was launched. Nineteen antique vehicles were registered in the first parade, including Mrs. MacAusland’s own 1966 Van Dan Plas Rolls Royce and Ranney’s 1927 American LaFrance ladder truck.
The 1980’s witnessed the Festival’s increasing popularity and thousands of people flocked to the island for its “annual rite of spring”. The Chamber of Commerce assumed the responsibility of organizing the parade and picnic in 1980 and extended the weekend festivities by including a shop window display contest. Additional activities have been added to the Festival calendar over the years, with something for everyone. The 2013 Parade featured over 100 vehicles competing for Most Authentic, Best Decorated, Best in Show and Peoples’ Choice awards.
See our Community Calendar for the latest information on this year’s Festival and check out our Daffodil video, also available on the Nantucket App for Smartphones: https://vimeo.com/38106241