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All hail the queen: Scotch Broom Festival crowns new royalty
Downtown Winslow saw the return of the much-loved Scotch Broom Festival Friday, May 30, amidst much laughter and the craning necks of uninformed passersby.
The tiddlywinks game? They may have overlooked that.
The classic hot rod pulling up in front of Town & Country? That only drew a handful of second looks.
But the ensuing parade of islanders waving handfuls of Scotch broom marching down Winslow Way? That was hard for anyone to ignore.
This year’s hastily crowned queen was Mickey Molnaire, the wife of Ron Konzak — one of the quirky event’s original co-creators. As such, she has been a perennial attendee of the festival, but was most definitely not expecting to wear the crown Friday afternoon.
“It’s my moment in the sun,” she laughed.
Though a crucial aspect of the festival, luckily for Molnaire the queen has few compulsory duties that accompany the position.
“I just have to continue to wave,” she explained.
The Bainbridge Island Scotch Broom Festival is a quirky island tradition dating back to 1965 when Kiwanis member John Rudolph began the event as a joke.
“He had been contacted by somebody who was doing a guide book for the state of Washington,” Molnaire explained. “They were looking into all the different festivals in the state, and so he made it up as a joke. My husband was working with him at the time, and some months later somebody showed up looking for the event. So they decided they better do something [and] they threw together this parade.”
The last-minute selection of the Scotch Broom Queen is a critical aspect of the tradition, said Molnaire. She remembered that once the organizers even selected a male musician from the crowd, who was wearing a long blonde wig, as the event queen.
The event was over almost as soon as it began, as per tradition. The entire parade lasted approximately 15 minutes.
The festival is traditionally an underground impromptu event with minimal planning and no formal notification. Yet somehow, those islanders in the know continually seem to find themselves downtown in front of Town & Country with bunches of Scotch broom at the same time.