The Festival is named in memory of Penny McHenry, founder of the American Hydrangea Society. Penny received a hydrangea from a friend when she lost one of her daughters. She fell in love with the beautiful plant and began propagating hydrangeas and the rest is history. She became world famous as “The Hydrangea Lady”. Penny has been featured in too many articles and publications to mention, however, Steve Bender, Senior Garden Writer for Southern Living paid tribute to Penny in an article in the July 2006 issue after Penny’s passing during 2006. Both the “Penny Mac” and “Mini Penny” hydrangea varieties are named in her honor. Penny’s family has given the Festival permission to name the Festival in honor and memory of Penny. An exhibit honoring Penny is on display at the Douglas County Museum of History and Art.
The Festival was created under the umbrella of Douglas County Museum of History and Art to beautify the community, preserve history, historic places and heirloom plants, and to generate tourism . The Festival has a number of events and exhibits, many of which are free, and is executed mostly by volunteers. The Steering Committee consists of several different committees with varying responsibilities to create an event for all to enjoy. In addition to events listed under the Event Tab, a great deal of work goes into creating a visually festive welcome to visitors. Mail boxes, lamp posts, doors, etc., are decorated with hydrangea colored ribbons, flowers and wreaths. Free shuttles are provided for in- town events. Free parking is provided at Douglas County High School, the Courthouse located on Hospital Drive, and the downtown parking garage. Food and drinks are available for purchase in an outdoor café located on the grounds of the Courthouse as well as several restaurants in the downtown area.
Its purpose is to beautify our community; preserve our history, historic places and heirloom plants; and display our community to the world.