In 1938 the first daffodil tour was proposed jointly by the Gloucester Rotary Club and the Gazette-Journal. The Gloucester board of Supervisors appropriated $50 for expenses of the “First Annual Narcissus Tour” which was held March 18-April 9, 1938. The county organized a clean-up week prior to the tour date and 3,000 people took the tour, coming from as far away as New York, Cleveland, Detroit, Connecticut, Boston, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Maryland.
By 1939, interest in daffodils was reaching an all-time high and a festival was added to the tour with a queen and court. At a festival ball Delta Osborne was presented as the first daffodil queen. The 1940 Narcissus Tour Committee took the theme “Life in Holland”. A newsreel entitled “The Daffodil Story” was made in cooperation with the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce using 30 girls dressed in Dutch costumes, standing in the local daffodil fields. Harriet Miller was chosen as queen that year. The National Geographic magazine also sent photographers for photos of the local daffodil fields for an article they were preparing.
By 1941 the advent of war was commanding people’s attention and there was less interest in the daffodil festivities. However, Mary Tyler Chadwick served as queen with a court made up of representatives from nine counties. The festival was mentioned in a “Better Homes and Gardens” article.
In 1942 the tour and all festivities were discontinued due to war conditions. No more annual events were held until 1958 when the local Lions Club sponsored a pageant which continued until 1965.
In 1987 a volunteer citizens committee with the cooperation of the Gloucester Department of Parks and Recreation organized a spring Daffodil Festival. They continue to sponsor the annual event which includes bus tours to Brent and Becky’s Bulbs (formerly The Daffodil Mart). The festivities also include a parade, fine arts poster, queen, arts and crafts show, historical displays, performances and entertainment. The annual Daffodil Festival honors an important era of Gloucester’s history and its proceeds go toward the beautification of the county through plantings and other projects. With full community participation, through schools, civic organizations, clubs and individuals, the Daffodil Festival has become Gloucester’s Hometown Festival.
Since 1938 the Garden Club of Gloucester has held an annual Daffodil Show in which growers compete for awards. This ADS sponsored show has artistic as well as horticultural divisions and continues to attract much attention each spring.
Although this once important industry has all but disappeared from Gloucester County there still remain, in the flowers that continue to bloom each spring, the annual events held, the child selling bunches of daffodils along a country road, subtle reminders of this important aspect of our county’s heritage.