Lemon Lily Festival one week earlier

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Emmerson Renner enjoys herself on the wooden horses at the Lemon Lily Festival in 2015. Photo by John Drake

In hopes of having blooming Lemon Lilies on display during this year’s festival, organizers moved it a weekend earlier than it has traditionally been held. It will be held Saturday and Sunday, June 24 and 25, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

This local beleaguered flower, poached to near extinction in the early 20th century, once was so ubiquitous and healthy that the plants were thought to number more than 30,000. When they bloomed, the lilies’ perfume would waft throughout the entire valley. Plants could grow to 6 feet high with multiple large, fragrant, yellow flowers.

The Lemon Lily Festival, inaugurated in 2010 by Dave Stith, Doug Yagaloff, Shelley Kibbey and a host of committee members, had as its mantra “Education, celebration and restoration of the Lemon Lily.”

The Friends of the Idyllwild Nature Center nonprofit has taken the lead in both hosting the festival and in Lemon Lily propagation efforts. Lemon Lilies are now celebrated every summer in a continuing effort to familiarize residents and visitors with the flower’s Hill history and propagation efforts to restore it to its former glory.

The festival entertains children and adults with activities that were common during the flower’s heyday in the late 19th and early 20th century: Pioneer Town featuring gold panning with the Hemet Rock and Gem Club; leather working with Tandy Leather; a flint-knapping demo and more “old time” activities; Nikki’s Painted Ponies and Alpacas; a children’s story book walk featuring “The Lemon Lily Fairy” by local author Sherri Domenigoni; talks by initial festival organizer Stith entitled “Insights on the Restoration of the Lemon Lily” and “New Species for the Flora of the San Jacinto Mountains”; and a talk by Master Gardener Linda Powell.

On both Saturday and Sunday, musical entertainment features The Stone Creek Jumpers and Three for Joy. Snacks also are available on both festival days.

Check the festival website for times of specific events and performance schedules at (http://lemonlilyfestival.com/2017-entertainment-schedule/).

There is free shuttle service on both days from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. from the Town Monument to the Nature Center.

Several local artists have donated pieces of art to be used in a raffle to help defray both the costs of producing the festival and continuing propagation and restoration efforts. Raffle tickets are available at the Nature Center every day during June business hours preceding the event.

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