Once upon a time, there was a small historic town with a railroad running through it. This small town was known for nothing. For many years, its citizens had dreamed of being known for something wonderful and beautiful.
Then one magical day, an inspiration came to a couple of citizens. Why not create a signature event that would stimulate participation from local citizens, City and County Government, Civic Groups, and Businesses. An event that would beautify the community, preserve history, historic places and heirloom plants, and generate tourism.
So the question was what something could accomplish this goal for this small town? What thing or what flower could be the inspiration for this event? A decision was made to develop a festival with a flower inspiration. Then the question was, what flower? Thus the Hydrangea Festival concept began to surface. The Hydrangea is an inexpensive plant that is easily grown by most, is very beautiful and grows quickly. There are both sun and shade varieties and of course, it is an heirloom plant.
The Hydrangea Festival concept was developed and presented to Douglas County Government and the Government of the City of Historic Douglasville and to a group of active citizen leaders. A decision was made to move forward.
The Festival name, Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival, is named in honor and memory of Penny McHenry, founder of the American Hydrangea Society. Penny has been featured on TV shows and too many magazines to mention. Her love for hydrangeas grew as a result of a friend sending her a hydrangea when she lost her daughter. She propagated that hydrangea and the rest is history. Penny passed away in June of 2006. Southern Living Magazine paid tribute to Penny in the July, 2006 issue. The Penny Mac and Mini Penny hydrangeas were named for Penny. We have been given permission by Pennys family to pay tribute to her by naming the festival in her memory. Her family has also graciously given us a few of Pennys treasures for the Douglas County Museum of History and Art located in the Old Courthouse in historic downtown Douglasville, Georgia.
The first Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival took place on June 6 and 7, 2008 with the theme being Pennies from Heaven and featured the Penny Mc Hydrangea. There was a Hydrangea Ball, A Standard Flower Show, Day Garden Tours, Moonlight and Magnolias*, an evening progressive dinner garden tour, Art Show and Sale, Antique Show and Sale Plant Sale and much more.
Now heading into the sixth year, the dream continues... More and more hydrangeas are planted each year to beautify the community.more awareness is created in preservation of heirloom plants, history, historic places and guests have visited from 65 Georgia cities, 12 states and 5 foreign countries. The 6th Annual Penny McHenry Hydrangea Festival is scheduled for June 1 and June 2, 2013 and will feature the Blushing Bride hydrangea as the lead specimen for the Flower Show.