, 2022-09-01 18:14:11,
CAPITOLA — In memory of the Capitola Begonia Festival, which was held for 65 years and officially ended in 2017, the Capitola Arts and Cultural Commission has organized a tribute to the festival Saturday and Sunday at the Capitola Historical Museum that will feature nostalgic memorabilia and music in Esplanade Park on Sunday.
However, organizers such as Laurie Hill, former president of the Capitola Begonia Festival want it to be clear that this is not the actual Capitola Begonia Festival. It’s just a tribute.
“This is not the Begonia Festival,” said Hill. “It’s just a fun gathering to celebrate the memory of the festival at the museum and in Esplanade Park with big band sound, some hula dancers and the Capitola Ukulele Group.”
The Tribute to the Capitola Begonia Festival memorabilia will be featured in the Capitola Historical Museum from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The musical portion of the tribute will be held in Esplanade Park from 3 to 6 p.m.
The Capitola Begonia Festival began in the 1950s, and coincided with the Capitola Water Fantasy Carnival, which was founded by Captiola’s first female councilmember, Peggy Slatter Matthews. The festival and carnival featured begonia-lined boat parades, swimming competitions and water ballet. After the water carnival ended in 1954, the Begonia Festival continued on as a Labor Day weekend staple in Capitola until the begonias ran dry in 2016.
“We would have continued doing it, if there had been begonias,” said Hill. “I was approached in November of 2016 by the people at Golden State Bulb, our source for begonias for decades. They called me and said they were retiring and there wouldn’t be any begonias in 2017. I hung up and cried.”
Hill and other festival organizers convinced the begonia farmers to provide flowers for the festival for one final year in 2017, which was the 65th anniversary of the festival.
“We went out with a bang,” said Hill. “It was a fabulous turnout and we had visitors from all over the world.”
Hill admits that she is very sentimental, and having become aware of the Capitola Begonia Museum’s memorabilia from festivals of the past, worked with the Capitola Historical Museum to create a tribute to the historic event.
“Being a volunteer and doing these kinds of beloved festivals just niches you in the community in a way that I simply can’t describe,” said Hill. “I continue now with the Capitola Beach Festival because of all the same…
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