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The Daffodil Festival Through the Years

Welcome to the Camden Daffodil Festival and Home and Garden Tours - an event that has become one of the most popular tourist attractions in the state of Arkansas!

Festival chairman Clara Freeland said the event began in 1993 with "a few folding chairs out of the back end of a pickup truck at Dennis and Roxane Daniel's gardens on Maul Road, where members of the community could drive through the gardens to see the beauty of what the Daniels had planted".

Freeland reminisced: "The festival was first created as a fundraiser for the restoration of the Missouri Pacific Depot, which now houses the Camden Area Chamber of Commerce. Now, the majority of the profits from the festival are donated to the Ouachita County Historical Society to maintain the McCollum-Chidester House Museum, Oakland Cemetery and to other non-profit organizations in the community.

"I remember the year we organized as an official festival and all the preparation work that was involved in getting started. We met at Roxane Daniel's home in her kitchen around that big wooden table and started brainstorming. Rox, Wanda Ledbetter and Thera Lou Adams called together volunteers from all walks of life. It was wonderful and exhilarating. Some of those same volunteers are still working with us today - working hard to make each year's event even more exciting than the previous."

Unfortunately, the Daffodil Festival Committee has lost a number of the founding members over the years and we miss them dearly. In November 2012 we lost our founder, Roxane Daniel, after bravely battling cancer for a number of years. In previous years we have lost Adair Davidson, Nelle Jane and John Dawson, Charles Riggs, Dennis Daniel, Bob Dempsey, Ralph Hale, Bobbie Moore, Doris Gibson, Ruth Tate, and Devonne Freeland – all instrumental in the success of this festival.

For over 20 years, organizers of the Daffodil Festival have made many changes along the way. The first three festivals were held out at the Daniel's Gardens, and then organizers realized they had outgrown the space. So they made the decision to move the festival to downtown Camden. This proved to be an excellent move, as it benefited the merchants and brought more people into their stores. Today, our merchants say that the two days of the festival are the most profitable days they have all year.

The event has grown over the years and has become a major attraction in Arkansas, Louisiana, and many other states, and has been recognized by members of the Arkansas Parks and Tourism Association and the Arkansas Festival Association. The Camden Daffodil Festival has won an ALFIE Award for the event's color brochure, and was runner-up for a Henry Award for Best Festival at the Governor's Conference in 2010.

This year organizers are hoping for beautiful, spring-like weather to welcome our visitors who come from Arkansas and the entire United States. In years past the festival has been held, even when the weather was less than perfect and it was still successful.

The Championship Steak Cook-Off event at the Camden Daffodil Festival and has grown in popularity each and every year, serving more than 1,000 delicious steaks each year.

Today, the festival plays host to thousands of out-of-town guests who come from every state in the country. What a great event for the community!

Ya’ll come and bring your friends – we’ve planned a great weekend of activities for you!

In Memorium

Roxane Daniel
December 26, 1938 - November 13, 2012

The southern region and the entire American Daffodil Society lost a great lady and a valuable member with the death of Roxane Daniel. We will miss her enjoyment of flowers and of people.

Many of us have enjoyed the Camden Daffodil Festival, one of the great springtime celebrations in this area. Twenty one years ago when funds were needed to restore the 1913 Missouri Pacific Railroad depot in Camden, Roxane proposed the idea which developed into a festival attracting thousands to the area.

Roxane and Dennis Daniel expanded their 17 acres of sloping gardens into a daffodil paradise. "I'm a painter and live on a hillside, and always thought how wonderful it would be to look out and see a Renoir and a mass of color."

festival flow’r

daffodil damosel
debutante in dixie dirt
buttercup-yellow flirt
     twirling in her ruffled skirt,
she trips on lemon ditch banks, down
     fence rows, and waltzes
     under hollow logs;
city-grown in pampered beds and
     country-wild in bright abandon,
her perfume steals the spring-time air,
a dainty trumpet to herald the jonquille fair,
     dancing at a golden cotillion where
     it’s sweet-time in the southland:

daff-o-dilly.

By: Debra Riggs

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