The Rose Festival is an international event, and we were shown the red carpet treatment by the mayor of Казанлък (and the Peace Corps volunteers who hosted us). It was a pretty cool experience.
After meeting with the mayor, we went off to stop and smell the roses ...
and to sample rose rakia and rose jam (neither of which appealed to my taste buds) ...
and to see how rose oil is made.
The next morning, we headed off to the rose fields. These workers (who only pick before and at dawn while the roses still have dew on them) had finished by the time we arrived.
Here is some of what they picked before we arrived.
The fields were also full of women in traditional Bulgarian dress who were more than happy to pose for photos.
After the rose fields, we headed to the parade. The mayor and Rose Queen led the way.
After some brief words from the mayor, some explosives with colored smoke were set off. Check out the reaction from these young girls.
With that, the Rose Queen took her seat on the throne. The mayor hooked us up with VIP seats directly across from her and her court.
Peek-a-boo. I see you.
Then we just sat back and enjoyed the parade, which included a little bit of everything.