After a two-year COVID hiatus, the Wistaria Festival is being held in Sierra Madre on March 27, 2022, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
By Jean Sudbury
The Sierra Madre Chamber of Commerce announced that the Wistaria Festival is back! 2019 marked the Festival’s 125th anniversary. Then there were two COVID years. This year there will be a free downtown arts and crafts fair with over 110 vendors selling hand-crafted items and food, as well as the Sierra Madre Auto Show, children’s activities and music. All Sierra Madre restaurants and stores will be open.
As it has been for 125 years (not counting the two COVID years when the Festival was cancelled), but the star of the Festival, the tour of the Guinness Book of World Records Wistaria Vine, will be replaced with a tour of Historic Sierra Madre due to both homes being in escrow. Shuttle tickets may be pre-purchased at sierramadrechamber.com or on the day of the Festival from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm.
What to expect at the 2022 festival this year (corner of Baldwin Ave. and W. Sierra Madre Blvd, spanning three blocks):
- Shuttle tour of Historic Sierra Madre.
- Send a greeting with the official Wistaria Postmark.
- Visit local shops and more than 100 crafters.
- Fine Dining at local restaurants.
- Sierra Madre Auto Show and the Packard Auto Show.
- Musical performances throughout the day.
- Food trucks and much more.
Brief history of the Wistaria Vine
The Wistaria Vine is one of the seven horticultural wonders of the world according to the 2013 Guinness Book of Records. The “wisteria” vine was named after botanist Caspar Wistar; the seeds were transported out of China by Marco Polo in the 13th century.
The original plant, a “Chinese Lavender” wisteria vine in a gallon container, was purchased for 75 cents in 1894. It was planted near the front porch of a house on the corner of Carter Avenue. By the 1920s, the plant had engulfed and destroyed the original house so another house was built and the vine continued to grow. Today the Vine lives on a trellis between two houses which are on the original lot and built to accommodate the Vine.
Viewing of the Wistaria Vine became so popular that various organizations hosted the viewing, including the Sierra Madre Chapter of the American Red Cross (the first Annual Wistaria Festival), the Sierra Madre Woman’s Club, the Volunteer Firemen, the Masonic Lodge, the Eastern Star and the Board of Trade. When the Sierra Madre Woman’s Club hosted the Festival in 1931, an admission fee was collected for the first time; 35,000 people went through the turnstile during the three-week festival.
During the 1960s, the owner of the house wanted the fee waived, and the Wistaria Festival remains free to the public. Parking is limited, but a shuttle service runs from downtown Sierra Madre to the Vine for a fee.
[This article has been updated to updated the bus tour of the historical homes. March 14, 10:38 am.]
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