Lemon Lily Festival volunteers Ted Cummings and Peggy Parker discuss the various activities taking place during the festival. Photo: Cid Castillo

The 2nd-annual Lemon Lily Festival (LLF) drew a larger audience and organizers learned some lessons they will use to improve the festival for next year.

Key organizer Doug Yagaloff reported that based on site surveys, shuttle transport and merchant queries, he believes the festival drew about 5,000 attendees, most of whom were from out of town (last year’s estimate was 3,500 people). “So many people knew about the festival from last year,” said Yagaloff. “The Huell Howser video helped a lot. Core [center of town] merchants were elated.”

“There were so many new people in town,” said Idyllwild Gift Shop owner Judy Begin. “They were happy and they were spending money.”

Yagaloff discussed events that will need to be reworked for next year. Last year, Town Hall’s Pioneer Town was a one-day event and organizers advertised specific elements, such as the hoedown. This year, organizers spread Town Hall events over two days and they were not separately advertised. “We concentrated on marketing the whole event, [based on] attending a lot of affinity events like the Date Festival in Indio, the Temecula Balloon Festival and the Lavender Festival, and not emphasizing specific festival elements,” said Yagaloff. “We may need to adjust our marketing. Also, we may have diluted the effectiveness of Pioneer Town by spreading it over two days.” For example, the petting zoo at Town Hall was, not successful and did not produce much return on investment, according to organizers. The Taste of Idyllwild, was also successful, but food ran out too soon. That will be revised for next year, said Yagaloff.

Although attendees raved about the shuttles, organizers plan adjustments for next year — better marking of shuttle stops; better dispatching so that shuttles do not bunch up; making certain that shuttle stops eliminated during the day are checked later to see if there are still riders, for example at Strawberry Plaza; and eliminating long shuttle waits. Yagaloff noted that attendees liked the shuttles, their drivers and getting to see more of Idyllwild. “We sent a full shuttle to Humber Park because some people had never been there and wanted to see it,” he said. Lemon Lily Festival organizers are very pleased with the growing attendance from off the Hill and the warmth and enthusiasm with which Idyllwild residents have embraced the lemon lily cause, said Yagaloff. “It did not take long for this town to adopt something about itself [the lemon lily],” he said with a smile. “It’s become part of our culture.

“It will take a bit longer to understand the challenges of propagation,” said Yagaloff, referring to source of seeds.

Dave Stith, festival organizer and local botanist, stated, “Species adapt to their habitats through natural selection. Those with genes that favor survival in a particular habitat flourish and those that do not die off. … To err on the side of caution, it is recommended that only seeds collected in the immediate vicinity [of a habitat such as Idyllwild] be used for restoration purposes. It is also one of the reasons [economics and availability are the other two] we want to use homegrown lilies for restoration since some nurseries do not know the original seed source of their plants.”