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LILAC FEST SO CLOSE, YOU CAN SMELL IT : THE FACTS.

Byline: Karen Thacker Special to the Daily News

Fifty years ago, Morris Market displayed lilacs in its windows as part of the first Lilac Festival.

The tradition spread, with residents and businesses setting up lilac arrangements for show, every year around Easter.

Soon after Palmdale incorporated in 1962, the lilac became the city's official flower. The city joined with local clubs in supporting the festival, which has been in the Palmdale Cultural Center for 17 years.

The show has gone far from the arrangements created 50 years ago by Gilbert Morris and Mr. and Mrs. James Harris, to a two-day Lilac, Flower and Art Festival with numerous divisions and cash prizes for competition.

Entrants, about 50 in the lilac and flower contest, range from children to gray-haired experts.

``Some people can arrange bouquets and some people can't,'' said 15-year festival veteran and general chairperson Dorothy Lewellin. ``If you can't, you put them (lilacs) in a pot and see what comes out.''

The festival is Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Cultural Center, 704 E. Palmdale Blvd. Those wishing to display their flowers must deliver them to the upstairs auditorium Friday between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. There is no entry fee.

Classes include specimens (one or two stalks), miniatures, bouquets and arrangements. Rules are very specific for each category and need to be followed carefully to avoid disqualification, Lewellin cautioned.

Rules and entry forms listing divisions, categories and classes, along with awards, are available at the Cultural Center, the Palmdale Chamber of Commerce office or by calling Lewellin at (805) 947-9442.

Most lilacs have finished their season in Palmdale, she said, so most plants for the show are coming from Leona Valley. Typically, ``they (lilacs) do very well here because of the cold nights,'' she said.

On Friday, lilacs will be for sale at the Cultural Center and can be purchased and turned into displays for entered in the competition.

Art will also be on display and those interested can call Russ Lass at (805) 267-2251.

Opening ceremonies Saturday will begin at 10 a.m. on the Cultural Center patio with state Sen. W.J. ``Pete'' Knight, R-Palmdale, presiding. The Palmdale High School band will play at 9:30 a.m.

The Palmdale Lions Club will sell cut and potted lilacs, and the Antelope Valley Iris and Daylily Society also will sell plants. African violets will be available for purchase during the two-day event.

Proceeds from all sales go to the high school band.

This year's festival is dedicated to the late Domenic Massari, a civic leader and former mayor who was instrumental in starting the lilac show. He died last fall.

Festival sponsors are the city of Palmdale, the Palmdale Lilac, Art and African Violet Committee and the Palmdale Lions Club.

WHAT: Palmdale Lilac Festival

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

WHERE: Palmdale Cultural Center, 704 E. Palmdale Blvd.

Antelope Valley Arts Association Show for paintings in all media, mixed media, pastels and drawings. Lilacs, African violets and daylilies for sale. Admission is free.

CAPTION(S):

Photo

Photo: (Color in AV edition only) Flower grower Al Unzueta inspects lilacs on his property in Leona Valley in preparation for this weekend's annual Palmdale Lilac Festival.
COPYRIGHT 1997 Daily News
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Copyright 1997, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 31, 1997
Words:549
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