Rose of Tralee: A Rose By Any Other Name

by any other name
Photo owned by Robert Couse-Baker (cc)

Tonight the Rose of Tralee Festival comes to a head with the first night of the competition to find 2009’s loveliest girl. The Rose of Tralee Festival is one of the most important jewels in Kerry’s tourist crown. Tourism number crunchers expect over €6 million will be pumped into the local economy during the Festival.

The scope of the competition has so utterly changed over the years. Contestants travel from much farther afield. And while there are reels still rolled out as talents, there are certainly less tin whistle solos. The way the Festival is marketed seems curiously traditional. Lovely girls, check.  Circus, check. Parade, check.  Oirish Country and Western acts playing in the open air, check. Richie Cavanagh, er – check. Yes, a hodge-podge of plastic Paddy amusements that don’t really have anything to do with the contestants.

How about a couple of creative ways to connect to the Roses or the idea of a rose signifying one’s beloved to the Festival?

Rose of Roses
The biggest asset that the Rose of Tralee has are the girls that have taken part over the years. They are traces of the history of the contest. Last night, RTE showed some footage of the past Roses posing in a photoshoot. Of course, it was all very safe.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to make dresses of red rose heads or flapper dresses made of red rose petals? Dress past Roses in them. Don’t be afraid of older beauty and be representative maybe a few Roses ranging in age from 25 to 55. Perhaps get them a few of them together, asking each one to pose as a curve in a cubist rose.

Write Your Beloved Box
Roses are the currency of caring. Wouldn’t it rock if the festival left boxes with the head of a fresh red rose in them around selected towns and cities for people to find? The kick would be that those that find the boxes would be encouraged to write, draw or express on the box things they want to say to a person they love or care about – boyfriend to girlfriend, child to grandmother.. etc. You get the idea. Say you didn’t find a rosebox, it doesn’t matter, you could still enter and make your own. The more creative and fun the better.

The Festival could spice this up by, perhaps, asking people to photograph or video and share their personalised boxes on the Festival site. The Festival jury could judge the winners a month before the Festival. Prizes could be bunches of roses, boxes of Irish Rose chocolates, spa weekends in the Kerry wilderness or a VIP trip to the Festival.

Rose Snaps
Beauty is totally subjective. It could be the laugh-lines cracking under brown eyes, the elegant curve of the collarbone or a graceful step. Mostly though, it’s a glimpse of a feature or part of one’s self that we can’t but love. Those irreverent flashes.

Wouldn’t it great if the contest could somehow reflect this? So the girls are probably holed up in the Brandon Hotel this week. How about each of the contestants or their escorts are given cameras to take photos of things they love – people, places or sacred moments.

Or perhaps the Festival could set aside a hotel room to act as snaproom. The snaproom would have cameras on a flexible arms. Almost like stems. Different modified cameras could be set up. Old cameras, Polaroids, cameras with coloured glass mods like filters. You get the idea. The girls could move and position these camera to take pictures of themselves, others or things they find precious. Again, these photos would be shared on the Festival site.

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