At 60, A Delray Affair To Remember
Every community has its “Signature Event”, that one special event synonymous with the identity of the community.
In Delray Beach, the “Delray Affair” is that event and returns to Atlantic Avenue this weekend, April 8-10, bringing with it over 400 artists and crafters, and a few fun surprises this year. “The Delray Beach Chamber is excited to present the 60th annual Delray Affair,” says Stephanie Immelman, President & CEO of The Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce. “This event was started in 1962 to extend Season for our local businesses It’s one of the first initiatives
that helped to make Delray Beach what it has become – a trendy, vibrant beach town that
retains its hometown culture and celebrates the arts.”
During the Great Depression, Delray Beach was hit exceptionally hard. Being resilient and needing something celebratory to bring the community together, Delray citizens and community leaders got together after WWII to create the “Gladiolus Festival” in 1947 to celebrate and promote the towns Gladiolus farming industry.
“Delray Affair” grew out of the fertile soil of the town’s popular “Gladiolus Festival”, which
began in 1947 to promote the town’s Gladiolus farming industry. The festival was considered a
“Modern Day Fair” and included special exhibits, farm animals, a Regatta on Lake Ida and of
course, Gladiolas galore. The end of each festival was highlighted by The Gladiolus Festival
Parade, the biggest event in town, with lavish, flower covered floats and the crowning
of Gladioli Queens.
Gladiolus farming in Delray began in 1939. By the early 1950s, Delray producers were
shipping over two million gladiola bundles out each year and had become the leading grower of
Gladiolus flowers in the US, with more than 13 Gladiolus growers contributing to a more than a
$1 million-a-year industry. But big changes were happening in the Delray’s farming industry. Vegetables and fruits
overtook the brilliantly colored flowers as its primary crops, and the “Gladiolus Festival” transitioned into more of produce themed event. By 1962, community leaders organized a committee to expand the Gladiolus Festival to include
arts and crafts and created the “Delray Affair”. Interestingly, the committee that birthed the new “Delray Affair” made sure it was a late season event to extend the tourist season, thus
creating additional revenue for the city of Delray Beach. Fast forward to 2022. The “Delray Affair” is just as economically impactful to the community as it was when it began.
“Over the three-day period that Delray Affair occurs, thousands of people will be introduced,
or for that matter re-introduced, to our unique downtown,” says Chamber of Commerce Board
Member and Delray Affair Liaison Scott Porten. “As visitors stroll down our streets they are
constantly reminded of all the reasons to come back and enjoy our restaurants and shops. So,
the real economic impact does not necessarily occur during the event, but rather over the
remaining 362 days of the year before our next one.”
For Dates, Times and all the special event info: http://delrayaffair.com/