The Riverside Board of Supervisors proclaim this July Lemon Lily month
By Jenna Hunt
The endangered lemon lily native to Idyllwild now has its own month thanks to the efforts of Idyllwild citizens who are promoting the Lemon Lily Festival.
The Lemon Lily Festival scheduled for July 16, 17, and 18 in the heart of Idyllwild was honored and proclaimed as the “Festival of the Idyllwild Lemon Lily,” and the lemon lily received it’s own month in July, 2010 at the Riverside County Board of Supervisors meeting Tuesday morning.
“It’s an absolutely gorgeous flower with a beautiful scent,” said Third District Supervisor Jeff Stone during the proclamation. “There are very few of these lemon lily’s left. The Festival will be the start to bring the lemon lily back to prominence.”
Stone had previously given $2,000 towards the buying and planting of lemon lily plants throughout the creeks in Idyllwild, organizers said.
A group of seven Lemon Lily Festival volunteers sang the official Lemon Lily Song titled “Lemon Lily … I Love You,” to the Supervisors and a packed crowd of about 75 people. The song was written by Idyllwild resident Marilyn O’Connor.
“It’s really inspiring to have recognition by the county for our event,” said Doug Yagaloff, of the Idyllwild Business Roundtable.
Yagaloff and the group of volunteers presented lemon lily plants to the board of supervisors as a symbolic gesture, but they were for show and not to keep.
“They are so rare they have to go back to Idyllwild,” Yagaloff said of the plants.
Stone, a long supporter of Idyllwild, said he desires to keep the community flourishing.
“Idyllwild is one of the most special places in the third district,” Stone said.
The Lemon Lily planners said they hope that this year’s proclamation is the beginning of annual support for the three-day educational festival and the prolific growth and appreciation of wild lemon lilies in the mountains.
“It’s created a very special relationship between us and our supervisors,” said Brent Miller, with the Idyllwild Business Roundtable.
The Lemon Lily Festival has created a strong tie in the community with about 70 percent of businesses supporting the endeavor and other organizations like Rotary, American Legion and area churches signing up to provide assistance, said Yagaloff.
The inaugural event will have a Lemon Lily Walk with children’s scavenger hunt, crafts for children, a lemon lily planting and blessing. There will also be live music with a country hoedown with “Dennis Riley and the Mountain Pioneers,” and music by “Change Required.” There will be a pancake breakfast and a BBQ dinner in additions to the many restaurants offering specials for the event.
The educational seminars aimed as fostering education and appreciation for the lemon lily will be held throughout the festival, Yagaloff said. He said they will also have native plants for sale during the festival.
“The lemon lilies are disappearing and we are at a critical juncture,” Yagaloff said. “We want to spread the word about the Lemon Lily Festival.”
The Lemon Lily Festival was first conceived when local flora expert David Stith and U.S. Forest Services worker Kate Kramer teamed up and decided to help promote the Lemon Lily in its dwindling numbers, Stith said. Stith came to the Idyllwild Business Roundtable with Kramer’s idea and it launched, he said.
“The Roundtable group completely fell in love with the idea and that’s how it started,” Yagaloff said. “It’s an opportunity for every group in town to be involved.”
Stith said he is in awe at the progress the Lemon Lily Festival.“It’s unbelievable,” Stith said.
In a survey of Willow and Tahquitz Creeks, Stith said he found 2,662 lemon lily plants growing in the wild, but the numbers need to be double this or greater, he said. “My goal is to replant the lilies in the creek,” he said. “It’s wonderful that everybody is coming together for a similar goal.”
For more information, www.lemonlilyfestival.com.